People always ask me if I watch cooking shows, and whether I would I ever want to go on a show. The answers are, respectively, “sometimes” and “never.” There are a ton of interesting cooking shows out there. I’m not opposed to them. But the honest truth is that I can’t always relate to them.
My kids love these shows, including Chopped. My kids would also love to see me battle it out on TV for a title or cash prize. I think that they love the challenge, they love to judge, and they probably are way more competitive than I am. And when they watch one of these shows, they frequently will challenge me about whether I can make something that the on-screen contestants are cooking up. This is what happened with this Beef Wellington recipe. I blame Gordon Ramsey.
Beef Wellington was a recipe challenge on MasterChef Jr. several months ago. Beef Wellington is a signature dish for Ramsey, that guy just loves it, and is not shy about sharing that. Ramsey challenged a bunch of kids to make his own recipe for this dish, and my boys were in awe. Primarily by the deliciousness of the recipe. Who would not love a filet coated in herbed mushrooms, and wrapped in delicate flaky pastry crust? But they also loved the thought that kids so young could possibly do this successfully. I agreed.
We all eagerly watched as these 8-12 year-old-kids cooked their butts off. The results were surprisingly good. In fairness to anyone who tries this recipe, it is not easy by any means. The kids on MasterChef Jr. were prepped a bit in advance, the only way to make the entire process capable of being filmed. This recipe is not impossible: there are shortcuts (such as not making your own puff pastry) but it takes some time, some skill and some luck.
So after watching the show, my boys challenged me to make a Beef Wellington. This is a dish I had probably only made a few times before, a very long time ago. Not sure what my actual options were, I accepted the challenge. And so here you have it: my Beef Wellington. Although this is not by any means perfect, thankfully it worked out well enough. And for now, despite me not competing on a national cooking show, my boys believe in me!
Here is a link to a Gordon Ramsey video on how to make his version of Beef Wellington. Take a look, it’s impressive.
Mushroom duxelles or simply duxelles as it’s typically called is an important component of Beef Wellington. Duxelles is finely minced mixture of regular button mushrooms, onions or shallots, and herbs such as thyme, parsley and black pepper, sautéed in butter and reduced to a paste. I vividly remember learning how to make this in culinary school. I was surprised how something that seemed so simple was harder than I thought, primarily because most people don’t actually know how to cook mushrooms. You need the water in the mushroom to evaporate, which shrinks them and intensifies their flavor. This is critical. Doing this often requires a few things: good heat control and infrequent stirring.
Depending on what you are making with the mushrooms you either use a quick high-heat method or a slow-low heat technique. Making a solid duxelles in this recipe is key: you don’t want moisture, as it will make your dough mushy. You can also choose to wrap your filet in bacon/pancetta. Some recipes call for it, I tend not to use it myself. This recipe is not for everyone, it’s tricky, but it can be a wonderfully impressive dish served at the holidays. So if you’re still looking for something special to make this Christmas, give this some serious thought, I don’t know many that would pass up some Beef Wellington.
- For the Duxelles:
- 11/2 pound white button mushrooms
- 2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2-3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- For the Beef:
- One 3-pound center cut beef tenderloin (filet mignon
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- All purpose flour, for rolling out puff pastry
- 1 pound puff pastry, thawed if using frozen
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Step 1 For the Duxelles: Place the mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and thyme to a food processor, such as a Cusinart fitted with a blade attachment and pulse until finely chopped. Be careful not over-mix or it will be mushy. Set aside.
- Step 2 Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the butter and olive oil. When hot, but not smoking, add the mushroom shallot mixture and sauté for about 2 minutes until some of the liquid has evaporated. Reduce the heat to low add the white wine and continue to cook stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has evaporated and the mixture looks more like a thick paste, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.
- Step 3 For the Beef: Tie the tenderloin in 4 places so it holds its shape while cooking.
- Step 4 Drizzle the tenderloin with olive oil, then season generously with salt and pepper.
- Step 5 Place a large sauce pan over medium heat. When hot, add the tied tenderloin and sear on all sides (including the ends) for about 2 to 3 minutes. Set on a cutting board to cool slightly.
- Step 6 Place a long piece of plastic wrap about a foot and a half in length on top of a cutting board. Set aside.
- Step 7 Using a rubber spatula cover the plastic wrap evenly with a thin layer of duxelles. Season the layer of duxelles with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.
- Step 8 When the beef has cooled slightly, cut off the twine. Using a pasty brush, lightly coat all over with Dijon mustard. Place the beef on top of the plastic wrap at the start of the duxelles. Lifting the plastic wrap up, gently begin to roll the tenderloin in the duxelles covered plastic wrap to completely cover and encase the tenderloin. Roll it up tightly in plastic wrap and twist the ends to seal it completely and hold it in a nice log shape. Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to ensure it maintains its shape.
- Step 9 Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Step 10 On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to about a 1/4-inch thickness. Depending on the size of your sheets you may have to overlap 2 sheets and press them together. Remove beef from refrigerator and cut off plastic.
- Step 11 Set the beef in the center of the pastry and fold over the longer sides. Trim ends if necessary then brush the seam with some egg wash and fold over to completely seal the beef.
- Step 12 Season the pasty with salt. Place the pastry wrapped tenderloin seam side down on a baking sheet.
- Step 13 Using a pastry brush, generously coast the whole pastry with egg wash.
- Step 14 Using a paring knife make a couple of slits in the top of the pastry using the tip of a paring knife. This creates vents that will allow the steam to escape when cooking. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and beef registers 125 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Step 15 Remove from oven and rest before cutting into thick slices. Serve hot.