"A few years ago it was considered chic to serve Beef Wellington; fortunately, like Napoleon, it met its Waterloo."―René Veaux, Chef of Lasserre restaurant in Paris.
Here, I beg to differ with Veaux, as I know a lot of people who still continue to not only indulge in beef wellington, but also keep experimenting with this very versatile dish. Called Filet de Boeuf en Croûte in French, this dish is said to have derived it's English name from the first Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, in 1815.
Legends and lore have it that it was Wellesley, who had ascended the throne of Wellington in 1814, managed to reduce Napoleon Bonaparte's 69,000 men strong French army to shreds as Field Marshal of the English battalion, in the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium, on 18th June 1815. This, for him, brought along Prime Minister-ship and thus, in tandem with the rest of the English world, people from the culinary domain commemorated his triumph by naming the English version of the originally French delicacy, 'beef Wellington'.
Whether the rechristening of this particular dish was a result of the English trying to anglicize the French beef tenderloin coated with pâté, in an effort to rejoice the fall of their arch-rivals, the French, or the General's love for beef and pâté-pastry concoctions, is not really very clear. Some even say it was a mere way to honor Wellington, and had nothing to do with his food preferences, as he was least bothered with the culinary world. Other theories actually point to the fact that a brand of lustrous military boots, brown in color, were produced at that time, named after Wellington. Beef wellington's actually resembled these boots while being served, and therefore, were they called so by the English. In the following paragraphs find how you can make this scrumptious dish.
- Beef fillet, 1 (750 gms.)
- Chicken liver pâté, 100 gms.
- Button mushrooms, 5 oz. (finely chopped)
- Egg, 1 (whipped)
- Puff pastry, 500 gms.
- Onion, 1 (finely chopped)
- Beef stock, 3 tbsp.
- Olive oil, 2 tbsp.
- Butter, 5 tbsp.
- Garlic cloves, 3 (minced)
- Desiccated marjoram or thyme leaves, ½ tsp.
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the oil and half the amount of butter in a saucepan, and sauté the mushrooms, onions, salt, and pepper for approximately 10 minutes, until brown. Sprinkle some marjoram or thyme herbs and throw in the garlic mince and pâté. Keep stirring, and after a few minutes pour the beef stock into the prepared duxelles. Keep ladling until all the liquid dissipates. Now, in another fry-pan, add the remaining butter and slowly introduce the fillet. See to it that only the edges are blackened and the center is left pink, as beef wellington is best served with the middle retaining the pinkish tinge. Next, lay the puff pastry on a dough-dusted plane and spread the pâté mixture on it. Then position the beef fillet in the middle, on the mixture. Slowly fold in the pastry, and seal the pastry edges together, around the fillet. Do not thicken the seams. Now make incisions on the pastry's outer shell and rub some whipped egg over the cuts in polishing strokes. These slits allow the smoke to leave the arrangement as the beef cooks inside.
Place them on a baking dish, and bake for 12 minutes in an oven preheated to 445 degrees F. After that, bring down the temperature to 425 degrees F, and continue for another 13 minutes maximum. Remove and serve once the pastry is a rich golden brown shade.
Along with this, you can serve some boiled red wine and beef broth simmered together in the same pan in which you made the pâté mix, for ten minutes. Nice, isn't it? Garnish with some parsley leaves or broccoli with handsomely thick and uniform slices cut out from the fillet, while serving. Moreover, you can serve your beef wellington with the following peppercorn condiment as well.
- Green peppercorns, ½ a cup (soaked in saltwater, then drained)
- Brandy, a cup
- Eschalots, 2 (finely chopped)
- Beef stock, a pack
- Olive oil, 2 tbsp.
- Cream, 2 cups
- Garlic cloves, 3 (crushed)
- Thyme leaves, 1 twig
- Mustard grains, 2 tbsp.
Add the eschalots, thyme, and crushed garlic to heated olive oil and stir for about a minute. Now, remove from heat, pour the brandy in it and flambé. Once the fire goes out, return to the stove and add the stock. After the contents in the pan have been reduced to half, sieve out the solid components and mix the mustard and cream to the strained solution. Boil it down to a thick consistency, switch off the flame, throw in the peppercorns and cover with a lid.
So, try this fantastic recipe and see your family smacking their lips away to glory. Food recipes don't get easier than this!