Beef Wellington With Wild MushroomsCourse: MainDifficulty: Worth the effort
Who doesn’t love this dish? But, to be fair, it has a reputation of being tricky to pull off – we want the meat to be pink and juicy, not dry and overcooked. Equally good served hot or cold, it’s other virtue is that it can be prepared well in advance and just popped in the oven when you’re ready.
800g middle cut or thick end fillet steak in one piece
300g ready-made all-butter puff pastry
15g dried porcini mushrooms
1 large onion
325g dark-gilled open-cap mushrooms
1 teaspoon beef dripping or groundnut oil
a little brandy
a little flour, for rolling
1 egg, beaten
275ml full-bodied red wine
- Begin by making the filling well ahead – it needs to be chilled before you use it. Soak the porcini in boiling water for 20 minutes and while that’s happening chop up the onion and open-cap mushrooms as finely as possible (if you have a food processor you can do this in moments; if not use a very sharp knife and chop them minutely small). When the porcini have had their 20 minutes, squeeze out all the excess liquid (and reserve it for later), then chop them small as well. Now, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter and stir in the onions and mushrooms to get a good buttery coating, then season and add a few gratings of fresh nutmeg.
- What you need to do now is turn the heat to its lowest setting and cook, uncovered, allowing the juices to evaporate slowly. This will take about 35 minutes altogether – stir from time to time and what you should end up with is a lovely concentrated mixture with no liquid left. Spoon the mixture into a bowl, cool and chill in the fridge.
- Now season the beef well, then heat the dripping in a frying pan over a high heat. When it is smoking hot, add the beef and brown it on all sides (using a cloth to protect your hands as you turn it). The browning will take about 5 minutes or so, then remove it to a plate and brush it all over with brandy, then leave it on one side to cool.
- Now, with the frying pan still on the heat, add the reserved mushroom soaking liquid and let it bubble and reduce a bit, then add the red wine, a heaped tablespoon of the mushroom mixture and some seasoning. Reduce the heat and let it all simmer and reduce by about a third, the take it off the heat and reserve until you need it.
- When both the mushrooms and beef have cooled, roll the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle approximately 35 x 25cm. Trim the edges (keep the trimmings for decoration), then spread one-third of the mushroom mixture over the centre, just large enough for the beef to sit on, then place the fillet on top and cover with the remaining mushroom mixture and pat it down round the beef into a good shape.
- Now brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg and wrap the pastry like a parcel around the meat. if necessary brush the edges at each end with a little more egg before folding them in. Now turn it over so the seal is underneath and use any trimmings to make pastry leaves for decoration. Now place it on a plate and cover and chilll in the fridge till needed.
- When you’re ready to cook the beef, preheat the oven to 230C/gas mark 8. Place the beef parcel on a greased baking sheet and brush the pastry all over with beaten egg. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes for medium-rare beef, or 5 minutes less for rare and 5 minutes more for well done. When it comes out of the oven, warm the sauce while you rest the beef for 10 minutes before serving it cut into 6 thick slices. Alternatively cool it completely, chill and serve cold as part of a buffet with lashings of horseradish.
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