I love Beef Wellington. I mean REALLY love it. Mind you I like anything wrapped in pastry.
Beef Wellington doesn’t seem to have any connection to the Duke of Wellington. It’s suggested that it is simply a “re-patriotion” of the well established filet de bœuf en croûte. In fact the first written reference to Beef Wellington comes from The Los Angeles Times,who published a recipe for “fillet of beef, a la Wellington” in 1903. The Oxford English Dictionary pinpoints a 1939 guide to eating out in New York as the first reliable reference: Tenderloin of Beef Wellington. In actual fact Theodora Fitzgibbon, the first lady of Irish Cooking, thought the dish originated as Steig Wellington in Ireland, as the Iron Duke was born here.
In a restaurant if you order this dish, you can expect fillet of beef, lathered in a mushoom duxelle or fois gras coating, and wrapped tightly in puff pastry. This is normally served with a madeira sauce.
Mine isn’t quite the same. Although with lots of time, it is made from scratch in totality. But on this occasion, it was really kind of thrown together.
Nigel had got some flank beef, so I used this instead of fillet. Yes it was going to be a little tougher, so I marinaded it overnight in lots of red wine and crushed garlic. With a bay leaf thrown in for good measure.
The next day I “Roll” the flank, secure with kitchen twine, and brown well on a really hot buttered pan. This is then wrapped straight away in clingfilm, tightly. This helps with the shape, and to keep all the goodness in the beef. Obviously, if you are using fillet of beef (or venison etc) you don’t need to secure it with string, as it is already in the bsic shape you want. I would, however, still sear and wrap in cling film. This can now be left until you are ready to prepare the dish.
After this it was simply a matter of blitzing the mushrooms and cooking them in a hot pan with lots of olive oil until they were “Dry”.
Then, using shop bought puff pastry (I find the Lidl one excellent), I lay out the pastry, cover this with slices of proscuito (to keep in the moisture). Spread the duxelle over this. Then I unwrap the rested beef (snipping off the string, while trying as best as possible to keep it’s shape). And lay this on top. All this is wrapped up, and brushed with egg wash. I cook this for 45 mins in a hot oven, for a medium Beef Wellington. If it was just for family, I’d cook it for less. The most important thing is to leave it rest.
Best served with a rich dark gravy, this dish needs nothing else except maybe some steamed greens. Delicious.