- 1.5kg fillet of beef, in one piece
- 80g butter
- 150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
- 100g smooth liver pâté
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 10 slices pancetta (or Parma ham)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 500g pack ready-to-roll puff pastry, thawed if frozen
- A little plain flour
- 1 egg, beaten
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Tie up the beef fillet with string at regular intervals – this will help to make sure that the beef retains its shape.
- Heat 40g of butter in a large flameproof casserole or frying pan over a high heat. Add the fillet, browning each side for a few moments, and turning it over with food tongs. Keeping the heat high is important, so that the beef really sears. This whole process takes just 3-4 minutes. Transfer the beef to a roasting dish and roast for 20 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes, then chill for 20 minutes.
- While the meat is cooling, start to make the mushroom topping. Heat the remaining 40g of butter in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms over a high heat for 4-5 minutes. You can use just chestnut mushrooms, or if you like, try a combination of soaked porcini mushrooms and regular mushrooms for a more intense flavour. Cool for a few moments, then blend until fine.
- Put the liver pâté into a bowl and mix it with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the cooled mushroom mixture, then stir in the thyme leaves. Season with a little salt and pepper. Just a note – if you’re not keen on mushrooms, you could just use pâté mixed with the herbs – though you will need a little extra.
- Lay two slices of pancetta, end to end, on a board or work surface, so that they overlap. Lay down the next 8 slices along the board. Snip the string from the cooled fillet and discard it. Lay the fillet along the middle of the pancetta and spread the pâté mixture on top. Fold over the pancetta neatly to enclose the beef and topping, tucking in the ends.
- Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface into a rectangle about 35cm square, (you’ll need to check that this will entirely cover the fillet), then allow to rest for 10 minutes. Brush the centre section of the pastry with beaten egg, position the wrapped fillet on top, then fold over the pastry, pressing the edges together firmly to seal. Allow to rest for 20 minutes in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 210°C/Gas7. Preheat a baking sheet. Brush the surface of the pastry with egg wash. Cut out leaf shapes from the pastry trimmings to decorate the top of the Wellington, glazing them with egg wash. Place the Wellington onto the preheated baking sheet, then bake for 40 minutes, until golden brown. Rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
Mini Pork en Croute
For tasty mini portions, sear pork medallions (sliced pork fillet) in a little hot butter for 1 minute per side, then top them with a little sautéed onion, garlic and chopped herbs. Cool, then wrap in squares of puff pastry. Brush with beaten egg, then bake for 25 minutes at 210°C/Gas 7.
Salmon and Prawn Parcels
For 2 servings, take 4 sheets of filo pastry and cut them in half to make 8 squares. Brush each one with melted butter, layering them to make 2 stacks of 4 squares. Place a lightly smoked skinless fillet of salmon on top of each, add a few prawns and some chopped fresh chives, then bring up the pastry around the filling to make parcels. Brush with melted butter and bake for about 25 minutes at 210°C/Gas 7.
Got a query? Let Sue help.
Q Could I use a different type of steak from fillet?
A I wouldn’t advise this. Fillet is very tender and succulent (as the price reflects) making it the ideal choice. Rump or sirloin steak would be tougher.
Q What’s the best way to avoid the pastry getting soggy?
A Make sure the fillet is chilled before you cover it with the pancetta and pastry. Then bake the glazed Wellington on a preheated baking sheet, in a preheated oven.
Q How do I make sure that my pastry goes a lovely golden colour?
A Egg wash is the key here. Brush it all over the pastry for a glorious golden result.
Q I don’t have a blender – how can I prepare the mushrooms?
A Hand-held stick blenders are efficient and inexpensive to buy – so use one of those if you can. Otherwise just chop the mushrooms very finely.
5 Golden Rules
- It’s really important to sear and brown the fillet to seal in a great flavour and give a good colour.
- Don’t rush when chilling the fillet. Let it cool first at room temperature for 15 minutes, then chill for 20min.
- Take your time – make the mushroom pâté the day before to get ahead, if you like.
- Rest the pastry, and don’t over-stretch it when covering the fillet, or else it could shrink and split.
- Do rest the finished Beef Wellington for at least 20 minutes before carving – you’ll get a cleaner cut, and the meat will be more succulent. Enjoy any leftovers cold – it tastes fantastic.
Recipes and food styling: Sue Ashworth
Photography: Jonathan Short