Classic Beef Wellington and Disputed Origins

Classic Beef Wellington and its Disputed Origins | 31Daily.com

 

A special day deserves a special meal. And it doesn’t have to take all day — it doesn’t even have to be hard.

Beef Wellington is an impressive and memorable dish that makes anyone you serve feel special. It’s deceptively easy and gorgeous on your table.

Beef Wellington has long been associated with the 1st Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley (1769-1852), an impressive General in the British army credited with the first Napoleonic war victory. While I’d like very much for this provenance to be true, it is likely:

“It rather looks as if BW, as we now know it, was first made famous by Julia Child, whose book ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ was immensely popular in the USA. She certainly presented a version of the well-known French filet de bœuf en croûte (‘fillet of beef in crust’), which she entitled ‘Filet of Beef Wellington’ on TV in her ‘The French Chef ‘ series broadcast on New Year’s Day 1965, after which BW seems to have become hugely popular in North American social circles and was repeated in a large number of magazines and cookbooks, including the very influential ‘White House Cookbook’. To Americans, unaccustomed to the idea of meat in pastry, strangers to the English idea of pies and to whom the Pasty is unknown, Beef Wellington must have seemed a quite exotic dish.”

Either way, anything credited to Julia Child is special, it’s a beautiful dish, worthy of the season… and easy on the chef.

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 pounds center-cut beef tenderloin
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups finely chopped mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon salt
freshly cracked pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 425°F. Place the beef into a roasting pan fitted with a rack. Season with salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste. Roast for 35 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the beef reads 145°F. Cover the pan and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Reheat the oven to 425°F. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork.

Heat the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper and cook until the mushrooms are tender and all the liquid is evaporated, stirring often.

Sprinkle the work surface with the flour. Unfold the pastry sheet on the work surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a rectangle 4 inches longer and 6 inches wider than the beef. Brush the pastry sheet with the egg mixture. Spoon the mushroom mixture onto the pastry sheet to within 1-inch of the edge. Place the beef in the center of the mushroom mixture. Fold the pastry over the beef and press to seal. Place seam-side down onto a baking sheet. Tuck the ends under to seal. Brush the pastry with the egg mixture.

To garnish the top of the Wellington, use an additional puff pastry sheet and cut shapes and ropes and apply to the top of the pastry encrusted beef with egg wash.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the beef reads 150 – 160°F (for medium-well to well done).

 

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Written by 

Stephanie Wilson is an author, blogger, publisher, and former television news writer and producer. She lives in the Puget Sound area with her husband and teenage son.