Wellington is a classic preparation. Mushroom duxelle are layered with pate de foie gras and seared, seasoned beef tenderloin, wrapped in delicate puff pastry and baked until golden. Sliced into rounds, the Wellington is garnished with reduced veal stock and typically served with rich potatoes and buttery soft vegetables. The dish is elegant and sumptuous. The continental flavors of silky pate melt into the tenderloin and are made even richer by the tiniest bit of stock and savory, earthy mushrooms.
Duxelle! …reduced veal stock! … barely seared filet! …pate de foie gras! The dish sounds over-the-top—an expensive and time-consuming culinary feat hardly worth the hours and effort required. But let’s not make more of classic Wellington than what it is!
- “Duxelle” is simply sautéed mushrooms, and can be prepared days in advance;
- The veal stock can also be prepared in advance, most easily by purchasing a prepared stock and reducing it with juice from the duxelle and red wine;
- Tenderloin is available from the butcher already trimmed to perfection;
- Seasonings can be as complex as a handmade mix or as simple as stone ground mustard, salt and pepper;
- Puff pastry is available in the freezer section of better grocers
While classic Wellington refers to a preparation with beef filet, the term is generally used to describe any protein wrapped with puff pastry.
Salmon is delicious, layered with a smoked salmon mousse and laced with spinach.
Chicken layers well with all sorts of creamy cheeses, mushrooms and greens. A vegetarian Wellington could be composed of roasted or grilled vegetables layered with soft goat or sheep’s milk cheese-bound greens. Chef Ian Douglas prepares an amazing Venison Wellington, served individually rather than in slices, at Old Stein Inn in Edgewater, Maryland.
I do like the individual Wellingtons; they make the plate seem especially elegant and special. Of course, they are more time consuming. But with each bite, I appreciate the effort required and it seems to make the dish even more delicious.
Last week I was very graciously invited by Chef Zachary Pope of Roundz Gourmet Market to photograph Chef Pope preparing a Wellington. Here is his recipe for Classic Beef Wellington
- 1-4 lb beef tenderloin, cleaned and trimmed, seasoned with salt and pepper.
- *3 pounds fresh mushrooms such as oyster, white button & cremini, chopped
- 1-4 oz package dried mushrooms, rehydrated in water, juices reserved
- 2 TB butter
- 6 large shallots, halved
- Grapeseed oil
- Roundz Gourmet Secret Spice Mix*
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 sheet puff pastry
- 1 cup reduced veal demi glace
- 1 cup red wine*
- ¾ lb pate de foie gras, sliced into 1 inch thick rounds
- If you trim the filet yourself, roast the extra bits and reserve for the demi glace. *
- The red wine is optional, but really adds richness to the sauce *
- Some recipes call for basting the filet with Dijon or stone ground mustard, which is entirely optional.
- The spice mix is available for sale at Roundz Gourmet Market, as is a variety of handmade stocks
- Whole Foods Market sells a lovely veal base, sold near the boxed stocks.
- Prepare the duxelle: Saute the mushrooms in 2 TB butter over medium high heat. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook until tender. Remove from heat, place over a strainer, reserving the cooking liquid. This can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
2. Drizzle the shallots with a little grapeseed oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400° until tender and lightly caramelized. These can be cooled and refrigerated for up to three days.
3. Prepare the veal demi-glace. Dilute the demi-glace with red wine or water as directed, adding in the liquid from the mushrooms. Bring to a strong simmer and cook, reducing to a light sauce. Cool and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat for service.
To prepare the Wellington:
Preheat the oven to 375°. Process the duxelle and shallots in a food processor. You may need to do this in batches. Chef Pope reminds cooks to not overload the processor or it won’t be able to chop properly.
Set the foie gras on the duxelle
Heat a large heavy pan over very high heat. Add the grapeseed oil, swirling to coat the pan, thereby making it non-stick. Press the filet into a compressed loaf, then set in the pan. Sear, (do not cook) patiently remembering to not peek at the caramelizing surface. Turn to sear all sides, for a total of 10-12 minutes.
Carefully roll the Wellington onto a parchment lined jelly roll pan.
Using a serrated knife, slice into rounds. Spoon the reduced demi-glace over. Plate and serve.
Voila! A Classic Wellington!
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