Beef Wellington

For the last six years or so, Paul and I have made a tradition of cooking Beef Wellington on Christmas Eve. We open our presents to each other while it’s in the oven, crack a bottle of fine wine with the meal and then watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and always, always cry at the end (even though we know every word of the movie!). Try this recipe out – it’s straightforward, but takes a while (maybe three hours, start to finish), though it’s great to cook with a bottle of wine and some Christmas Carols in the background.

This is adapted from an original recipe by Tyler Florence.

Ingredients for the duxelles:

  • 2 pints button mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic,  chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T EVOO
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Ingredients for the beef:

  • 2 lb beef tenderloin (filet mignon)
  • EVOO
  • Salt & pepper
  • 4-6 thin slices of prosciutto
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • Flour, for rolling out puff pastry
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry (we use Pepperidge Farm)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Ingredients for the green peppercorn sauce:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  • 1/2 C brandy
  • 2 C beef stock
  • 1 C cream
  • 2 T dijon mustard
  • 1/4 C green peppercorns in brine, drained

First, we make the Duxelles, which is the mushroom pate that is just inside the puff pastry. Add EVOO and butter to a pan and get melted. Add mushrooms and other ingredients above to pan and salute about 6-8 minutes… they’ll first weep out a lot of moisture and then will absorb it back up – when most of the liquid is reabsorbed, remove from heat and season to taste with salt & pepper. Set aside for now.

Next, we brown the beef. Get some EVOO hot in a heavy pan and season the meat with salt and pepper. Sear off all sides (man, does that smell good). Set aside.

Lay out a few sheets of cling wrap on your counter, and lay down a sheet of prosciutto slices, each slightly overlapped. You’ll want enough area to fully wrap the tenderloin. Now, spread an even layer of the mushroom mixture over the prosciutto, and sprinkle thyme leaves on top. Take the dijon mustard and slather over the browned tenderloin, and set it on the mushroom mixture. Now carefully roll the tenderloin in the mushroom and prosciutto sheet, using the cling wrap to hold it together. Wrap the edges together and put the loaf in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.

Now, toss down a handful of flour on your counter and flatten out the puff pastry. Roll it out to about 1/2 the store-bought thickness – enough to wrap around your whole loaf. Beat the egg in a small bowl.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Pull out the tenderloin and carefully peel back the cling wrap and set it on the puff pastry. Roll it up tightly in the pastry and seal the seam and the edges with the beaten egg. If you’ve got any extra hanging off at the end, just cut it off. Turn over and place on a rimmed backing sheet or pan (juices will leak out while baking!).

Brush the entire loaf with your beaten egg. Make a few diagonal slices in the top of the pastry (to vent the steam) and sprinkle kosher salt over the top. Place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes – until the center reads 120-125 degrees.

While baking, it’s time to make the peppercorn sauce. Add EVOO to a heavy skillet (it can be the same one you browned the beef in – no need to clean it out), set to medium heat and add the shallots, garlic and thyme and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Pull off the heat and add the brandy and flame it with a kitchen match or lighter. When the flame burns out, add stock and then reduce by half. Add cream and mustard and reduce by half again. Add peppercorns and taste, seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Keep sauce warm.

Pull the Wellington from the oven (when you hit temperature) and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice 1 1/2” thick slices (a bread knife works best), and cover with sauce. It tastes great with any kind of roasted, au gratin or twice-baked potato. Pour yourself a glass of that fancy wine you’ve been saving and get ready to enjoy a truly continental feast!

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