Festive Beef Wellington
Give the turkey a rest this Christmas and cook this Festive Beef Wellington instead. It can easily be prepared in advance and is a real crowd pleaser. Read on to find the recipe.
A Classic Christmas Centrepiece
I have never felt more intimidated cooking a dish than I have cooking beef wellington for the first time and I’m sure I’m not the only one. But I’m here to show you that you’d don’t need to be scared of this classic dish. Whether you’re cooking it for your Christmas dinner, Boxing Day lunch or just because, this classic recipe is easier than you think.
What is a Beef Wellington?
Beef Wellington is a British dish made by wrapping fillet steak in a mushroom pâté followed by puff pastry and then baked. Every Beef Wellington recipe you come across will include these 3 ingredients – a good piece of beef, cooked mushrooms and all-butter pastry. My Festive Beef Wellington is no different.
Which cut of beef?
The traditional cut of beef used for a Beef Wellington is the tenderloin or fillet. This cut of beef doesn’t have any bones, it’s just one big cylinder making it perfect for wrapping in pastry, cutting and serving to a large group of people.
But, it doesn’t have much fat marbled through it either. This is why it’s seasoned liberally, wrapped in mushroom pâté and then all butter puff pastry! It’s important to add flavour to the beef, however possible.
Beef Wellington has a bit of a reputation for being tricky to cook but I think this stems from the fact that you need a BIG bit of beef to serve a hungry group of adults. This recipe calls for 1.5kg of good quality beef tenderloin and that is going to set you back a fair amount. (The piece I bought cost £65.00). If you’re spending this much money on the beef alone, you don’t then want to overcook it but it can be hard to know if the beef is cooked or not due to it’s mushroom and pastry coat.
How do I know when the beef is cooked perfectly?
There are two key things to look out for to know your beef wellington is done. The first, is that the pastry will be golden brown and crisp on the outside. But, this doesn’t tell you whether or not the beef is cooked.
The only way of knowing whether your beef is rare, medium rare (or worse) is to use a meat thermometer. For a perfectly pink beef wellington it should have an internal temperature of 54C. This is after it has been resting for 10 minutes.
What a lot of people don’t realise is that the internal temperature of the beef will continue to rise, even after it has been taken out of the oven. With that in mind you should remove the Beef Wellington from the oven when the thermometer reads 50C.
Add some festive flair
I’ve called this recipe a Festive Beef Wellington because I served mine at Christmas with all of the trimmings you’d expect for a Christmas dinner (you can see links to these dishes at the end of this post). I also added some festive spices to the mushroom pâté – a pinch of nutmeg and some cinnamon.
Last but not least, why not decorate the pastry top of the Wellington with some festive shapes like snowflakes, holly and other leaf motifs.
Festive Beef Wellington
- Pre-heat your oven to 200C or gas mark 7.
- Place the beef fillet on a roasting tray and brush with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Road the piece of beer for 15 minutes for medium-rare, or 20 minutes if you prefer medium.
- Once cooked, remove the beef from the oven and allow to cool completely before placing in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, finely dice the mushrooms.
- Heat a little olive oil and the nob of butter in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms for 10 minutes or until they begin to soften.
- Add the garlic, wine and thyme and cook for a further 10 minutes until the liquid has soaked up and the mushrooms have begun to stick to each other creating a a coarse paste.
- Place the mushrooms to one side, and again allow these to cool before progressing to the next stage.
- Once the beef and mushrooms are both cool, take the puff pastry and cut off a piece roughly 1/3 of the total pastry.
- Roll the smaller (1/3) piece of pastry into a rectangle roughly one inch longer and wider than the beef fillet and place on a piece of grease proof paper.
- Place a little of the mushroom mix down the centre of the pastry and place the beef fillet on top.
- Spread the mushroom pate over the beef fillet before spooning over the chopped mushroom mix, ensuring that it sticks to the fillet.
- Roll out the second, larger piece of pastry until it is big enough to entirely encase the fillet.
- To seal the top piece of pastry to the bottom piece gently press the edges with a fork.
- Trim the pastry so that it forms a neat rectangle.
- Beat the two egg yolks and brush the beef wellington all over. Leaving a little of the egg yolk behind.
- Take any scraps of pastry and use these to decorate the wellington as I did with leaf shapes.
- Use any remaining egg yolk to brush the decorations.
- Chill the wellington in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or for up to 48 hours.
- When ready to cook, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6 or 180C. Make sure the baking sheet you intend to cook the wellington on is also in the oven at this stage.
- Once the baking tray is nice and hot ,slide the wellingtonon to the tray and cook for 25 minutes for medium-rare or 30 minutes for medium.
- Once the pastry is crisp and golden, remove from the oven and allow to rest for roughly 10 minutes before serving.