Sunday, September 26, 2010

Challenge #2: The Classics - Ode to Arthur Wellesley The 1st Duke of Wellington

What an exciting day. I'm so thrilled to have moved into round 2 of this amazing food blogging challenge. I had a lot of trouble deciding what would be the perfect follow up post for todays challenge. THE SPECS: My own representation of a classic dish, not Italian and not French - keeping in mind I have to be cooking outside of my comfort zone. Hmmmmm what to do, what to do. After racking my brains out for two days, and driving my sister and friends all crazy. I decided that I was going to attempt an elegant British dish I have heard so much about, but have never tasted. Beef Wellington is totally blog worthy, and is definitely out of my comfort zone. I've never used prosciutto, or puff pastry, and i've certainly never wapped a filet of beef in this combination of delight, smothered in spicy mustardy goodness and then baked. Sounds sinful right? This popular dish is said to be named for Arthur Wellesley the first Duke of Wellington know as the Iron Duke. It's a timeless dish in Gordon Ramsey's repertoire - an ace in the hole when executed perfectly. I've also been watching a ton of Masterchef Australia and America, beef wellington is always a challenge for the contestants and the judges are always excited to see how they do. Today my beef wellington recipe is based on two different recipes one by Gordon Ramsey and the other by Tyler Florence. The main difference in these two dishes is the addition of shallots, and the type of mustard used. To keep things as authentic as possible I will be using English mustard which is bright yellow and hot. The wellington will be served with baby veg of golden beets, purple carrots golden pearl onions and roasted fingerling potatoes. I will also make a red wine pan gravy with a touch of cream. The dish is broken down into steps and begins with a mushroom duxelle. Right now there are two hours left on my clock to cook, and thats the only step I've completed. Still have to sear off my beef, wait for my puff pastry to de-frost, photograph and finish blogging... holy &^$^%#%$#@. Now it's really starting to feel like a competition. Hope I make it to the finish line...
Beef Wellington: 
For the Duxelles: 
2 cups white button mushrooms - rough chop
2 cups oyster mushrooms - rough chop
4 cloves garlic - rough chop
2 shallots - rough chop
thyme - about 10 sprigs 
2 tbs butter - for sutee
2tbs olive oil - for sutee
s & p - for sutee
PREP/COOK: In a food pro combine thyme shallots garlic and mushrooms blend until smoothish. Remove from food pro, and sautee for 8 - 10 mins in butter and olive oil. Leave to cool in a fine mesh sive  so that excess liquid drains out. 
For the beef: 
center cut beef tenderloin (filet mignon), trimmed 4 oz per serving
thin slices parma prosciutto
thyme - 3 sprigs leaves only
English mustard - 2 tbs
flour - sprinkle for rolling out puff
1 pound puff pastry - thawed room temp
eggs - 2 beaten lightly
olive oil - for searing beef
s & p 
PREP/COOK: Depending on the size of the beef - I'm only making 2 portions (each 4-6 oz per) tie the tenderloin in a few places so it holds its cylindrical shape while cooking. Season beef lightly with salt and pepper, and heat a few tbs of olive oil in a heavy pan. You just want to sear the beaf on the outside - for better flavor. Prep your wrapping station by setting out your prosciutto on a long sheet of plastic wrap (approx. foot and a half). Overlap the prosciutto so it forms a large rectangle big enough to wrap around the entire filet of beef. Then cover evenly with a thin layer of duxelles finish with more s&p. After beef is seared, remove from heat, cut off twine and smear lightly all over with English mustard. Allow to cool slightly, then roll up in the duxelles covered prosciutto using the plastic wrap to tie it up nice and tight being sure to tuck the ends of the prosciutto as you roll to completely cover the beef. 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 a lovely round log shape. Pre Heat Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly flour your surface to roll the puff pastry out (1/4-inch thickness). You may have to overlap 2 sheets and press them together depending on size of tenderloin. Remove beef from refrigerator and remove plastic. Set the beef in the center of the pastry and fold over the longer sides use egg wash to seal. Trim ends if necessary then brush with egg wash and fold over to completely seal the beef - you can save those ends to use as a decoration for the top for shmancy presentation. Place the beef seam side down on a baking sheet and brush the top of the pastry with egg for  beautiful shiny golden crust. Make a couple of slits in the top of the pastry using the tip of a paring knife - to allow steam to escape when cooking. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until pastry is golden brown and beef registers 125 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from oven and rest before cutting into thick slices. Serve with simple roasted fingerling potatoes baby veg and pan gravy - or enjoy the beauty that is the beef wellington as it stands alone. 
The verdict: Beef perfectly pink...puff pastry gorgeously golden... taste...damn good! Next time use less mushroom, and make sure duxelle doesn't go all the way to the end - leave a bit of prosciutto peaking off the edge. I think I wrapped the beef in the wrong direction, maybe should have placed it horizontal instead. It's okay to have minor setbacks in cooking. Learning is part of the game. 
Ps. I didn't realize I had until 3:00 pm PST, in all of my panicking my fiancee pointed out that I actually had a few more hours to have everything ready. I've never been happier to be on the east coast. 
All in all everything went pretty well. I think I deserve an A ! 
Chow for now - happy voting :)


  1. don;t forget the bernaise sauce, yum, could eat that on paper. good luck james. will vote again tomoro!

  2. What a fun idea!! I love love love beef wellington, but am totally intimidated by it! I didn't even know there was prosciutto in it!! Nice job and good luck!! :)


  3. Great post- this looks delicious!! You have my vote!!

  4. I think you deserve an A+! ;-)
    It looks perfect and delicious... and I don't even like red meat much. \
    Good luck on PFB

  5. Excellent work on a real classic dish! This does sound sinfully good!

  6. Your wellington looks fabulous! I made it once and it was definitely a time-consuming process! Great job and you've got my vote!

  7. I am so proud of you Jame! It was delicious...

  8. I've had (and made) mini-beef wellingtons as an appetizer in restaurants, but I've never attempted the real thing. Cudos! You got our vote!

    (Our entry is here: )

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. This is certainly a daunting dish, congrats on making it successfully. You've got a vote of ours, good luck this week!

    Lick My Spoon

  11. Beef Wellington has scared me ever since I saw Gordon Ramsey yelling at his contestants on Hell's Kitchen about it! Ha, ha, ha! You've got my vote!

  12. I can't say I've had that either...but it sure looks delicious...well done.


Thanks for your two cents. I love change!