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For my opening recipe I thought something classic, classy and yet very simple namely Beef Wellington. It is a recipe that people often ask me for or request at my dinner parties. Ironically my namesake Talleyrand, was attached to Napoleon Bonaparte, who was defeated by the Duke of Wellington, so it seemed very appropriate.

Where did Beef Wellington originate?

There is very little accurate information available about the origins of Beef Wellington. Most sources are agreed that it is named after the Duke of Wellington famous for defeating the French, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, at the Battle of Waterloo. The story is that it was named after his love of a dish of beef, truffles, mushrooms, Madeira wine, and pâté cooked in pastry. Other sources suggest that Wellington was not someone interested in his food and that his personal chefs were continually frustrated by his lack of interest.

. . . place steak in the pan and quickly brown on all sides

Is Beef Wellington a British dish?

It is claimed that a British chef for the Duke of Wellington created Beef Wellington but there is no evidence that this was so. One of his chefs may well have cooked fillet of beef in pastry for him but that does not mean that is where Beef Wellington originated. What is far more likely is that one of the Chefs of that time, wanting to climb on the bandwagon of Wellington's fame, pinched the French recipe for Filet de Boeuf en Croûte and called it Beef Wellington.

In her introduction to a recipe for Beef Wellington, Clarissa Dickson Wright says "This dish has nothing to do with that splendid hero, the Duke of Wellington; it was invented for a civic reception in Wellington, New Zealand, but it is a splendid addition to any party." Right or wrong? Does it really matter as it still remains one of the great dishes.

Ingredients for Beef Wellington

Beef tenderloin piece/steak
White button mushrooms
Puff pastry sheet - 20cm square

How to make Beef Wellington

  • Trim tenderloin if necessary, though this should have been done by your butcher
  • Heat pan with a little oil, place in the steak and quickly brown on all sides
  • Remove from pan and allow to rest in the refrigerator
  • Finely chop onions and mushrooms by hand or pulse in food processor separately
  • Lightly cook onions in some butter (over a low heat) with no colour and add mushrooms, allow to sweat until cooked
  • If necessary squeeze out in a tea-towel to remove all moisture: this is called a 'duxelle' and must be as dry as possible or the pastry will become soggy when baked
  • Lay out the puff pastry (this is your Wellington) and lay some duxelle in the center of the puff pastry
  • Place tenderloin on top and cover with remaining duxelle
  • Try this next process first before egg-washing and trim pastry if required (depending on size of steak)
  • Brush edges of pastry with egg-wash (a little egg mixed with milk)
  • Bring the edge closest to you plus the left hand one together, press lightly to seal
  • Bring the edge furthest away to you plus the right hand one together, press lightly to seal
  • Bring these two together and seal
  • Place this neat parcel on a lightly greased and floured tray
  • Place in the middle of an pre heated oven (200ºC)
  • Check after 10 minutes and brush with the egg-wash, this will give the pastry a nice even colour and a light glaze
  • Bake for a further of 20 - 30 minutes, covering with tin foil during this period if required to prevent burning
  • Allow to rest for 10 minutes in a warm place after removing from oven before serving
  • Serve your Beef Wellington with a Madeira or Hollandaise sauce, some new potatoes and steamed baby carrots or a tossed side salad

Chef's Tip for Beef Wellington

I always add a little paté to my duxelle when making Beef Wellington which is maybe why mine is always complimented on. You might also add to the duxelle: foie gras, Stilton cheese or a hint of garlic to taste

Recipe makes 1 portion of Beef Wellington

Chef's terminology:

litres   tsp = teaspoon
millelitres   tbs = tablespoon
kilograms   sq = sufficient quantity (add to taste)
grams   pc = piece, meaning a whole one of

Enjoy your Beef Wellington and bon appetit . . .

Recipe from professional
Chef Tallyrand