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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!” 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

and pepper

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

add mushrooms

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…

cooled duxelle

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.

egg wash

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
[print recipe]
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
duxelle recipe
2 oz. pâté (1 oz. pâté per steak)
1 lb. puff pastry (1/2 lb. pastry per steak), store bought or from scratch
2 eggs
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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24 nibbles at “love indubitably”

  1. Kristin says:

    Poor Kaweah…a prof told us that losing your hearing was much more isolating than losing your eyesight. It was hard for me to believe at the time, but as I spend more time with people (and animals) who’ve lost their hearing, it makes more sense. The Wellingtons look fabulous!

  2. Laura h says:

    Where did you get the pate? What kind did you use?

  3. Katie says:

    Oh how I love Kaweah. She is adorable beyond words and your pictures of her are absolutely heartwarming. I also have a black lab who is turning 13 this year so I’m very familiar with the very long naps and back legs that don’t really function anymore. He, however, would snatch up any food that he could find so Kaweah is better behaved than him for sure. :)

    Oh – and the beef wellington looks phenomenal. Can’t wait to give this a shot.

  4. Miss B says:

    I love that dog! She and my dog are about the same age, and he is nearly deaf as well. Unlike Kaweah, I think my boy purposely errs on the side of disobedience in hopes that we will assume he just couldn’t hear us telling him “no”. He was ornery as a puppy, and he’s ornery as an old dog. Nothing to do now but sit back and enjoy his antics.

  5. Sarah says:

    We started using some signs with our almost completely deaf dog toward the end. It was adorable to see her perk up when we made the sign for “go for a walk”.

  6. Quyen says:

    Wow, delicious and perfectly cooked!

  7. Cheal says:

    Kaweah is such a sweetheart! I love all the pics and posts with her- especially the frosty face!

  8. sue obryan says:

    gorgeous. making this for sure.

  9. sue obryan says:

    gorgeous. looks delicious too.

  10. CoffeeGrounded says:

    Congratulations to Ruthann and Twila!

    Such a divine treat you share…recipe included, as always.

    I’ve threatened to make puff pastry since Peter Reinhart’s instructions for croissants blessed me with success. To go the extra mile and find success with Beef Wellington might just send me over the top.

    You simply amaze and encourage us with every little thing you do.

    Thanks for being a wonderful pet mama. I get all sentimental whenever I see that beautiful puppy dog face. The feeling is similar to that of hearing a sweet love song from years past. Kisses and hugs to that sweet pup. :)

  11. rose says:

    Dear Jen,
    I would like to thank you for your great blog that I have been following for quite some time. Your photos are beautiful, your recipes delicious, and I really enjoy your nature adventures. Every post is interesting and inspiring!
    Wishing you the best, Rose

  12. Weekly Wants | Spache the Spatula says:

    […] These Individual Beef Wellingtons. Beef Wellington is something that I’ve always want to try my hand at making, and this recipe looks extra tasty with the pâté-duxelle mix coating the beef.  I’m preeeetttty sure I’ll be making these for Valentine’s Day […]

  13. Melanie Evans says:

    What a sweet girl Kaweah is. My dog (gone now 3 years and I miss him) lost much of his hearing as he aged. It was a bit of a blessing in his case since he was thunderstorm-phobic and you know how many thunderstorms we have along the front range! He was 15-1/2 when we finally parted. Tough times.
    I must have been using hand gestures when talking to him before he couldn’t hear because he carried right on knowing what I wanted after he couldn’t hear anymore by watching my gestures. You could try to connect Kaweah’s release word with some kind of gesture. Maybe start with the gesture and handing her the treat so she can make the connection between the gesture and receiving the treat and then move to having her choose the treat herself. She does look a little puzzle in her pictures. Sweet girl. Your wellingtons look delicious. I always appreciate hearing about your shopping/selection process too. Makes these beautiful dishes feel more doable. Thanks for sharing!

  14. swan says:

    holy toledo batman. this is the most extravagant dish i’ve seen. won’t be making it, but thank you for posting. kaweah, girl, you just keep on keeping on. i don’t know you, but i love you. and your mum and daddy….


  15. Bev says:

    I usually look for reliable, tried and true recipes for company, but ones that will make an impression. But this time, I think I’d take the time to do up a batch of these Beef Wellingtons for friends. Especially since I can make and freeze in advance–what a bonus.
    As Sarah said, sign language works for our poor deaf dears! Come, stay, sit, — you can invent enough vocabulary to make life pleasant again for Kaweah. If the dog happens not to be looking at you, which often happens one sharp stamp on the floor will get their attention (or clap the hands, if they are partial hearing). Hope you enjoy your geriatric pup for a long time.

  16. Jillian says:

    God I love that dog.

  17. jill says:

    I love your system of choosing a winner! Bless her aging heart and mind.
    And of course you would garnish the pastry with flowers. So pretty.

  18. Sophie says:

    Gorgeous! Beef Wellingtons make me think of Gordon Ramsay and how often he screams at chefs that can’t get them right. You’d make it to the next round with these for sure girl! Absolutely beautiful…. and I’m sure, delicious. A good recipe for our being snowed-in this weekend, if only I could get supplies……

  19. shelley says:

    we taught our dog “vacuum” and it basically means clean up all edibles the kids have left behind. raspberry is pretty cute though

  20. Brenna says:

    Hi there, I will be making this tomorrow and was wondering if you had any suggestions/recipes for suitable side dishes to go along with this. Thank you!


  21. Brenna says:

    Oh and also what kind of pate should I get?!

  22. jenyu says:

    Kristin – yes, I believe it’s quite distressing for her to lose her hearing, so we’ve been working on mostly non-verbal communications.

    Laura – Whole Foods. Pork.

    Katie – I hope your pup continues to enjoy many more years xo

    Miss B – Kaweah was rather disobedient (stubbornly so at times) when she had perfect hearing, so now we wonder how much is deafness and how much is Kaweah being stubborn ;)

    Sarah – yep! We use lots of hand signs with Kaweah. She has no problem with the sign for “eat”, but I think a new environment where she hasn’t eaten food before (off the new coffee table in the Crested Butte house) really caused confusion. In addition to going deaf, she’s also getting a little… senile.

    CoffeeGrounded – thanks :)

    rose – you are incredibly kind, thank you for your comment. All the best to you too!

    Melanie – Yes, we have hand signs for Kaweah, but it only seems to work on familiar things. This happened to be a new activity (eating treats off a surface that was previously forbidden). I think that’s where the confusion came in. Also – Kaweah is not especially bright to begin with AND she’s becoming somewhat senile. As long as she has fun :)

    swan – :)

    Bev – life is very pleasant for Kaweah, trust me :) The new stuff is hard for her little doggy brain though. She’s back in retirement, so she’s quite happy!

    Jillian – thanks!

    jill – I think it was a little too demanding for Kaweah. We’ll not do that again.

    Sophie – thank you!

    shelley – ha ha ha!

    Brenna – well, I served this with a shredded Brussels sprouts salad and chanterelle mushrooms sautéed in butter. But I imagine anything would go well with this: gremolata smashed potatoes, roasted vegetables (cauliflower, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, etc.), shredded kale salad, a nice green salad with jicama and citrus. Hope that helps! Oh, the pâté I used came from Whole Foods – I believe it was a pork based pâté.

  23. Jessica says:

    OMG – my boyfriend wanted to do something special for valentine’s day and was asking me for ideas (surprising as he is french and they’re suppose to be the masters in the kitchen), so i showed him this recipe and he nailed it!!! it was sooo good (the dough was a little undercook but it was ok) that he cannot wait to do another of your recipes. Thanks so much for posting it!
    ps. Kaweah is soooo adorable

  24. Rachel W says:

    I finally got around to making this for my parents!! The meat I bought was too tough but other than that my parents thought it was great (they didn’t seem to mind that my puff pastry fell apart while I was cutting the finished goods). I used the leftover duxelle and pate mixture to make puff pastries for my grandma and she liked the flavour. Thanks for sharing the recipe!!

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