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Beef Wellington: A Culinary Classic


What’s not to love about Beef Wellington? A meal fit for royalty, this dish is decadent, classic, and a great meal to cook when you want to impress your friends and family.  

While the exact origins of Beef Wellington are unknown, putting meat inside pastry has always been a popular cooking technique throughout the world, especially in France where chefs were known for their extravagant cooking. The dish earned its name thanks to an Anglo-Irishman named Arthur Wellesley. Arthur was the Field Marshall who presided over the British army at the Battle of Waterloo. This battle led to the end of the Napoleonic Wars and resulted in the fall and exile of Napoleon Bonaparte. With this historic win, Wellesley was awarded the title Duke of Wellington, became Prime Minister, and ultimately was immortalized in the name of the classic dish we now call Beef Wellington.

In 1965, the Beef Wellington skyrocketed in popularity within the United States. The New York Times featured the “gold standard” recipe for the dish, which included luxurious items such as pate de foie gras, truffles, and cognac. The same year, the one and only Julia Child featured her version of the meal (filet de boeuf en croute) on her legendary show “The French Chef”. Child’s recipe includes a brioche-wrapped tenderloin rather than a traditional puff pastry outer shell.

With such a storied history, you would expect Beef Wellington to be a difficult dish to make. Although it requires time, the Beef Wellington recipe is more accessible than you may think. You should not feel required to make your own puff pastry- store bought versions are excellent and a terrific way to save time. While the recipe below does not include any foie gras like the famous 1965 New York Times recipe, I do recommend wrapping the tenderloin in prosciutto to keep the meat nice and moist. This recipe is excellent for New Years, birthdays, or anytime you need to “wow” your family and friends.

Please note that this recipe is a two-day process, but do not let that stop you from enjoying this exceptional meal!

Beef Wellington

Recipe serves 4 people

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds chateaubriand
  • 2 ounces pancetta, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, finely chopped (a mixture of different varieties is ideal, if possible)
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  •  Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 10 to 12 thin slices prosciutto
  • 1 large egg
  • 16 ounces puff pastry, thawed

METHOD

Step One

Place the chopped pancetta in a skillet. Cook over medium heat, until the pancetta starts to char a little, about 6 minutes.

Step Two

Once the pancetta is browned, add the butter, and let melt. Stir in the mushrooms and shallot. Cook on high for about 7 minutes until the liquid from the mushrooms is cooked off. Reduce heat to medium and slowly cook the mixture for 25 minutes. Continue to stir to make sure the mixture gets beautiful golden in color. Once the mixture looks beauty bronzed, add the garlic and thyme leaves, and cook for additional 2 minutes. Add the apple cider vinegar and stir to coat. Remove mixture and let cool completely.

Step Three

Using the same skillet heat olive oil over medium-high. Season your chateaubriand with salt and pepper and sear on all sides until browned (about 2 minutes per side). Move the meat to a plate and let cool. Brush all over with mustard.

Step Four

On a large, clean work surface, overlap sheets of plastic wrap that forms a 15”x15” square. Place enough slices of prosciutto on top to make sure it is able to fully wrap around your chateaubriand. Spread the mushroom mixture on top.

Step Five

Place your chateaubriand along the edge of the prosciutto and roll the beef tightly around the prosciutto. Wrap very tightly with the plastic wrap, twisting both ends. Chill in your refrigerator overnight.

Step Six

The following day, heat your oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay out your puff pastry on top of the sheet, letting it drape over the edges as needed. Unwrap your beef and place in the center of the puff pastry. Tightly wrap the pastry dough over the beef, making sure to pinch the sides. Place the beef seam-side down on the baking sheet. With a sharp knife, cut a few slits on top of the pastry.

Step Seven

Bake until a thermometer inserted in the center reads 115 degrees for rare, 25 to 35 minutes. (This timing will yield rare pieces at the thicker end and medium done pieces at the thinner end of the loin.) Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes, then slice and serve while warm.