Yesterday was my boyfriend’s birthday. Seeing as it was also the first day of the new school term (the perils of an early January birthday) we celebrated over the weekend, with a long hike and this.
Juicy, tender, beef, still pink in the middle, wafer thin, salty prosciutto ham, mushrooms infused with thyme and white wine. All wrapped up in a crisp, flaky parcel of puff pastry. We stuffed and stuffed ourselves, then lay on the sofa, held our very full bellies, and sunk into a wonderful meat coma. I should have taken some more careful pictures of the inside, but i’m afraid we were just too busy stuffing our faces for that.
When Andy first requested Beef Wellington as his birthday tea my heart sunk. I’ll admit it, I was terrified. You’ve only got to watch a few episodes of Come Dine With Me to see how easily a Beef Wellington can go horribly, horribly wrong. Soggy pastry, meat thats cooked until it resembles boot leather, meat that isn’t cooked at all, Wellingtons that crumble into a shocking mess at the merest suggestion of a knife…. Add to that the pressure to provide a birthday dish living up to expectations and that’s a lot of kitchen tension!
I’m am very happy, however, to announce that my Wellington won’t be adding to the horror stories! In fact i’m so proud of the fact that it didn’t come out of the oven raw/tough/overcooked/soggy that I think it is only fitting that it is my first blog recipe of 2014. Here’s to a year of being brave in the kitchen!
(Recipe adapted – and roughly halved – from Gordon Ramsey @ BBC Good Food)
A beef fillet (mine weighed just over 1/2 kg)
1 1/2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Freshly ground black pepper
175g chestnut mushrooms (or substitute with other mushrooms)
1 sprig fresh thyme
60ml dry white wine
8 slices prosciutto ham
375g pack frozen puff pastry
About a tablespoon flour, for dusting
1 egg yolk, beaten with about 1 teaspoon of water
Preheat your oven to 220c.
Place your fillet onto a baking tray. Rub it with half a tablespoon of olive oil and season with black pepper. Roast in the oven. You will need to cook it for about 15 minutes for rare, 20 minutes for medium rare.
Take it out of the oven, cool, then chill in the fridge.
Meanwhile you can make the mushroom mixture. Chop up the mushrooms as finely as you can. I pulsed mine in a food processor to make things easier. You are aiming for a texture resembling bread crumbs.
Heat the remaining oil and the butter in a pan. Add in the mushrooms and sprig of thyme and cook for about 10 minutes, string regularly, until the mushrooms have softened. Take care that they don’t catch on the bottom of the pan as you heat them.
Once softened, add the wine and cook for about another 10 minutes until all the liquid has disappeared and its’ all starting to smell delicious.
Take off the heat and leave to cool.
Once your mushrooms are cooled, it’s time to start putting your Wellington together.
On a flat surface, lay out two strips of overlapping cling film.
Lay your prosciutto out, slightly overlapping in a double line on the cling. You should now have a nice square of ham, about twice the size of your piece of meat.
Spread half the mushroom mixture across the top of the ham.
Place the beef in the middle and top with the remaining mushrooms.
Very carefully, pull the cling film up the sides of the beef, wrapping the prosciutto around the fillet.
Tightly wrap the cling film and twist up the ends to make a sausage. Chill in the fridge.
While it’s chilling, you can start rolling out your pastry.
Take 1 third of your pastry block. Roll it out into a rectangle. Once you put your beef onto the pastry you’re going to want about an inch and a half rim of pastry on each side.
Roll the rest of the pastry out into a rectangle just under half the size.
Place the smaller rectangle on a baking tray.
Very carefully, unravel the cling from your beef and prosciutto parcel. Place the meat into the middle of the pastry. Generously brush the pastry around the meat with your egg wash.
Using a rolling pin to help you, lift up the large pastry rectangle and lay it over the meat. Use your hands to smooth it down, taking time to ensure there is no air between the meat and the pastry.
Trim the pastry neatly at the bottom, then use a fork to pink the edges together.
Using a knife, mark diagonal lines in the top of your wellington, make sure you don’t go all the way through the pastry.
Brush with egg wash and chill in the fridge for at least another 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 200C.
Give your Wellington another generous brush with egg wash, then bake in the oven for about 25 minutes for medium rare.
Leave to stand for 10 minutes, then cut with a sharp knife into generous slices.