Recipe: individual beef wellingtons
Well, we pulled Kaweah out of retirement one last time to choose two winners for the Helliemae’s Caramel giveaway. We let her choose the numbers earlier in the week. When I set up the treats and numbers, she seemed very interested and so we figured it would be familiar to her.
waiting to pick the first number
Because Kaweah is mostly deaf, we shout at her like she doesn’t understand English. Her release word has always been “raspberry” which meant “look for anything edible in your doggie vicinity and put.it.in.your.mouth!” But when we shouted “raspberry”, she looked confused. Kaweah walked up to the coffee table and regarded all ten of the treats. Her typical modus operandi was to make a beeline for a random treat, suck it down, and proceed to the next three before we could stop her. Instead, she considered the five closest to her nose going back and forth and back and forth.
then she looked at me and wagged her tail because she didn’t know what to do
She’s not a good girl, but she is a sweet girl. One thing Kaweah never did was take food off a table without permission. Except she couldn’t hear permission anymore. And she’s never been the sharpest tack in the box. So we shouted encouragement like “treat!” or “go get it!” and pointed at the treats. It took a long time before she finally ate one… reluctantly. We think she thought she was being a bad girl taking food off the table.
there’s a number 8
and then it was back to confusion
Eventually, we wrangled 6 numbers out of her (two 3-digit numbers). For trying her darndest, we gave her the remaining nine treats (she liked that). Thanks to all of you who not only entered, but shared such touching or funny stories and recollections of loved ones and the food associated with those special people. You all are great! Now on to the winners…
The numbers are: 883 and 148. 883 mod 282 (the number of entries) = 37.
Comment #37 is Twila and comment #148 is Ruthann!
Congratulations Twila and Ruthann! I shall email you shortly for mailing addresses. ***Ruthann, your email bounced. Please contact me via email (see the “about” section for my contact info).*** Thanks again to everyone and especially to Ellen (love you, girlfriend!) for making this giveaway possible. If you can’t bear the thought of forging ahead without tasting Helliemae’s Caramels (or gifting them to someone you love or even just like), you can order them directly from Helliemae’s online.
I didn’t used to visit the butcher’s counter at Whole Foods regularly until a few months ago. Each week I swing by and see what cut of lean beef is on sale and buy a little bit – for Kaweah. If we’re heading to Crested Butte, I’ll buy extra and freeze it to take with us. One day when I was getting Kaweah’s beef fix, I decided to also pick some up for Jeremy. Well, really for both of us. And when I say both of us, I mean all of us because I wanted to try (and blog) individual Beef Wellingtons.
parsley, eggs, olive oil, pepper, salt, pâté, shallots, garlic, mushrooms, puff pastry, beef tenderloin (not pictured: butter)
My only prior attempt at Beef Wellington was in graduate school. Jeremy was out of town observing at a telescope and I had a bunch of my geology grad pals over for dinner. Back in the day, whenever we hosted friends for dinner, we always asked them to bring a chair – because we didn’t have enough. I honestly don’t remember how the food turned out because it was so nice to just unwind with friends. Everyone loved it, but we were all poor starving graduate students, so of course we loved it. I have a feeling my culinary skills have improved since those days.
season the steaks with salt
sear the steaks 1-2 minutes each side
If you like rare steak, you’re going to have to take some extra steps to keep from overcooking the beef. First off, choose steaks that are thicker and larger. Then pan-sear the seasoned steaks. This is just to get a nice browned exterior for flavor. The center should remain nearly raw. When the searing is done, chill the steaks in the refrigerator. While the steaks are chilling, prepare the duxelle.
duxelle: parsley, garlic, shallots, mushrooms, salt, butter, pepper
finely dice the mushrooms
chopping the rest of the ingredients
What is a duxelle (or duxelles)? It’s a mixture of mushrooms and shallots for things like pastries or Beef Wellington. It’s lovely and I could eat it straight with a spoon, but I didn’t because I knew the final product would be worth it. Sauté the vegetables in butter and stir in the parsley last.
sauté the garlic and shallots in butter
season with salt and pepper, then stir in the parsley
Let the duxelle cool. If you didn’t think this mixture was heady enough, just wait until you combine it with the pâté. Now THAT mixture is also something I could eat straight with a spoon…
smash the pâté into a paste
mix the duxelle and pâté together
You could make your own puff pastry or purchase pre-made puff pastry. I went with the pre-made and found that 1/2 pound of pastry dough per Wellington worked out for me. You will want to roll the dough out to be about 3 times wider in both directions than the steak. Place the steak in the center and cut the dough into a fat cross shape (leaving the center intact) with the wings as wide as the steak in plan view. It’s easier to look at the photo.
cut the dough into a cross
cut decorations from the extra scraps of dough
Spread the duxelle mixture on one side of the steak and place it duxelle-side down in the center of the pastry dough. Spread duxelle mixture around the sides and top of the steak as if you were frosting it. Wrap the pastry up around the steak and pinch those seams together to form a nice seal. We don’t want the precious juices to leak out during baking if we can avoid it.
spread a layer of duxelle on the steak
set it down on the pastry and cover the rest of the steak
you shouldn’t see any steak peeking out
wrap it up and seal the edges
Now that you have a nicely sealed Wellington, turn it over so the seam is on the bottom. Give it a once over with egg wash on the top and sides. Apply any pastry decorations you might have (it’s optional, but so cute and fun to eat) and egg wash once more. Freeze the Wellingtons for an hour. At this point, you can individually wrap them in plastic and keep them frozen for up to a week. This is great if you want to plan ahead or have to make a bunch of these. If not, leave them in the freezer for another hour or two to really freeze through. Then take them out and egg wash one more time before baking.
the extra scraps make a nice touch
egg wash the frozen wellingtons
My Wellingtons should have baked longer, but I think my filets were on the small side and I didn’t freeze them long enough. They reached the target 110°F internal temperature 20 minutes early and I took them out for fear of photographing (and eating) grey beef. The result was a somewhat underdone pastry, but a lovely medium rare beef. I really like the idea of being able to make these ahead of time so that the only thing you need to worry about come dinner is popping them in the oven. It’s especially handy for entertaining or that special dinner for two that you won’t have to slave over.
they present beautifully
and the wellingtons taste as extravagant as they look
Individual Beef Wellingtons
based on this recipe and this recipe both from Fine Cooking
2 6-8 oz. filet mignon, at least 1-inch thick if not thicker (thicker and larger for more rare steaks)
black pepper, freshly ground
1 tbsp olive oil for searing
2 oz. pâté (1 oz. pâté per steak)
1 lb. puff pastry (1/2 lb. pastry per steak), store bought or from scratch
1 tsp water
2 tbsps butter
1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups mushrooms, finely chopped
black pepper, freshly ground
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
Sear the steaks: Season both sides of each steak with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a frying pan (don’t use a non-stick pan, it doesn’t produce a good sear) over high heat. Add the steaks when the oil is hot and sear for 1-2 minutes until the bottom is brown and crisp. Flip and sear for another minute. Don’t overcook the beef – you want the centers to be rare or very red. Remove from heat and refrigerate the steaks to chill completely until ready to use.
Make the duxelle: Heat the butter in a frying pan over high heat. Sauté the shallots in the butter until soft. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Stir the mushrooms into the pan and let cook down (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the parsley.
Assembly: Mash the pâté with a fork and mix it in with the duxelle. Set aside. Roll out the puff pastry 1/2 pound at a time, making sure its width and length is three times the width of the steak in plan view. Place a chilled steak in the center of the pastry. Imagine a square in the center of the pastry that just touches the steak’s perimeter. Using a knife, make cuts in the pastry extending the edges of the square to the ends of the pastry without cutting along the imaginary center square (you’re making a giant cross). Reserve the cut pieces of pastry for cutting little decorations.
Spread a layer of the duxelle mixture on the top of the steak, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Place the duxelle-side down on the center of the pastry dough. “Frost” the rest of the steak with duxelle mixture on the top and sides to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness so the steak is completely covered. Wrap the puff pastry around the beef, sealing the seams to prevent leakage during baking. Turn the package over so the seam-side is down. Whisk one egg and 1/2 teaspoon water together in a small bowl. Brush the egg wash over the pastry. Adhere any cutout pastry decorations to the top. Brush with egg wash again. Freeze for an hour. Wrap each Wellington individually and freeze for up to a week.
Bake the Wellingtons: Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove the Wellingtons from the freezer. Make another batch of egg wash. Set the pastries on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Brush the pastries with egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven to 350°F and bake another 35-40 minutes until the internal temperature is 110°F (use a meat thermometer inserted to the center of the steak). Let the Wellingtons rest for 10 minutes, then cut in half and serve. Makes 2 Beef Wellingtons.
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