Beef Wellington

I know, I know,  I said that this blog didn’t have “fancy” recipes, but consider this one of my exceptions. I was first introduced to Beef Wellington when I went to Fleming’s Steakhouse a few years ago. While browsing the menu, it jumped out at me:

Filet mignon? Check!
Mushrooms? Check!
Wrapped in flaky puff pastry? Check!

It didn’t take me long to figure out what I was ordering, and I was in love. I hadn’t thought about it recently but then it was featured as a challenge on The Next Food Network Star competition, and I started craving it again, this time resolving to make it at home. The classic preparation of this dish involves searing a beef tenderloin and topping it with mushroom duxelles, a slice of goose or duck liver, and wrapped in puff pastry. I made individual servings by wrapping single servings of filet mignon in  the puff pastry, and it was definitely one of the most gourmet meals I have made at home, and absolutely worth it! Served with garlic smashed potatoes and green beans, it was a fabulous meal. And to top it off, I can now cross Beef Wellington off of my “Top 100” list!

Although this recipe called for goose or duck liver, or pate, placed on top of the mushroom duxelles, I omitted it. It just didn’t really sound all that appetizing and I didn’t even know where I would buy such a thing. I don’t think it made a difference, because this was such a fantastic dish. I hadn’t heard of duxelles before the Food Network show, but according Wikipedia, a duxelles is “a finely chopped (minced) mixture of mushrooms or mushrooms stems, onions, shallots, and herbs sauteed in butter, and reduced to a paste (sometimes cream is used as well). It is a basic preparation used in stuffings and sauces (notably, beef wellington), or as a garnish. Duxelles could also be filled into a pocket of raw pastry and baked as a savory tart (similar to a hand-held pie).”

You’ll notice that the filet is much more well done than you would find a filet mignon; this was not intentional. The times in this recipe are intended to deliver a medium-rare meat; as I usually like my filets around medium, I seared them for an extra 1 minute per side and baked in the oven for the same amount of time as the recipe states. So take note of the size of your filets and monitor the doneness with a thermometer. I do have to say, even though I felt that these filets were a little more done than I would have preferred, the combination of the duxelles and puff pastry still produced a really moist and tasty cut of meat.

Individual Beef Wellington

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

4 (6-ounce) thickly cut filet mignons
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 (1-ounce) slices goose or duck liver, or pork country-style pate
One-half (17 1/4-ounce package) frozen puff pastry (1 sheet), thawed
Mushroom Duxelles, recipe follows
1 large egg beaten with 2 teaspoons water to make an egg wash

Mushroom Duxelles:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced shallots
½ teaspoon minced garlic
10 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean, stemmed, and finely chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
2½ tablespoons dry white wine

Directions:

1. To make the Mushroom Duxelles: Heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, salt, and white pepper, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until all the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms begin to caramelize, about 12 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring to deglaze the pan, until all the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and let cool before using.

2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

3. Season both sides of each filet with ¼ teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper.

4. Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the filets and sear for 1 minute on each side for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate to cool completely.

5. Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 14-inch square, and cut into 4 (7-inch) squares.

6. Spread one-quarter of the mushroom duxelles on top of each filet and top each with 1 slice of the pate, pressing to flatten. Place one filet, mushroom side down, in the center of a puff pastry square. Using a pastry brush or your finger, paint the inside edges of the pastry with egg wash. Fold the pastry over the filet as though wrapping a package and press the edges to seal. Place the packages seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the egg wash over the tops and sides of each package and bake until the pastry is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers 140 degrees F for medium-rare, about 20 minutes.

7. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

(Adapted from Emeril Lagasse)