St. Georges Day Beef Wellington
Beef Wellington

There are few dishes as quintessentially English as the Beef Wellington, which has been a stalwart of traditional British cuisine for decades. Theories are abound as to the origins of the name - many say the dish was created in honour of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, acknowledging his fondness for beef, pate and Madeira wine, while some attribute the name to the cooked dish's resemblance to a Wellington boot.

In any case, the Beef Wellington makes for a superb, classically English family meal - perfect with a glass of good red wine for a St. George's Day feast. Try serving with creamed potatoes and roasted parsnips.

Ingredients


1kg beef fillet

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for greasing

5 - 6 thin slices prosciutto

Plain flour, for dusting

500g pack all-butter puff pastry

1 egg, beaten

For the mushroom stuffing


20g dried porcini mushrooms

400g chestnut or button mushrooms, roughly sliced

1 tbsp fresh thyme leaf

50g butter

1 large shallot, finely chopped

splash of Worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan

For the gravy

25g butter

1 shallot, finely chopped

Sprig of thyme

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp plain flour

Splash of brandy (optional) 

Glass of red wine

1 beef stock cube





Method

1. First soak the dried porcini in 400ml in hot water and set aside. Pat the beef fillet with kitchen paper to dry it of any blood then season with salt and then with black pepper.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan until very hot - it will take about 8-10 minutes to completely sear the fillet with tongs until its well browned on all sides. Set the beef aside.

3. Drain and squeeze out the dried porcini but reserve the juice and tip the porcini into a food processor with the other mushrooms and thyme. Season everything with salt and pepper and pulse until finely chopped but not completely smooth.

4. Place the beef pan back on the heat with the butter and when it starts to sizzle add the shallot and cook for 2 minutes until softened. Turn the heat up and tip in the mushrooms, add a splash of Worcestershire sauce and cook everything for 10-12 minutes until you have a paste. Tip into a bowl to cool,( stir through the parmesan if using )and set aside. The beef can be seared and the mushroom mixture can be made several hours in advance.

5. For the first stage of assembly get a large sheet of cling film and overlap the prosciutto slices on it in a row, tip the mushroom mix on top then cover with another sheet of cling film, pat it down or roll it out to a thin layer that just covers the prosciutto.

6. Remove the top sheet of cling film and sit the fillet down the centre of the mushrooms. Using the edge of the cling film lift and roll the prosciutto and mushrooms to encase the beef then use the cling film to roll everything into a tight sausage. For the best results now place the sausage in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up – do not leave for longer.








7. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry to a rectangle & trim the edges to neaten and save the trimmings. Lightly brush the pastry all over with beaten egg. Carefully unwrap the prosciutto parcel and lay in the middle of the pastry. Like wrapping a parcel or making a spring roll fold the shorter edges over the fillet then roll the whole thing around the fillet to encase.

8. For a really neat finish get another clean sheet of cling film and roll the Wellington into a sausage tight sausage again. Place in the fridge and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to a day.

9. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 with a sturdy, lightly oiled baking tray in it. Re-roll the pastry trimmings and use to make 6 leaves. Unwrap the Wellington, brush all over with egg then decorate with the leaves. Brush the leaves with more egg.

10. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and transfer, sealed side down to the heated baking tray. Bake the for 10 minutes then reduce the heat of the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and continue to bake for 25 minutes for rare meat, 30 minutes for medium rare, 35 minutes for medium and about 45 minutes for well-done, making sure the pastry doesn’t burn. Remove from the oven and leave for 10 minutes to relax.

11. To make the gravy, heat the butter in the mushroom pan and fry the shallot, thyme and bay, scraping the crispy bits of the pan with a wooden spoon. Scatter over the flour and brown then splash in the brandy, sizzle for a minute, then add the red wine and boil to a purple paste. Pour in the mushroom soaking liquid, avoiding the gritty bits at the bottom, crumble in the stock cube and any juice from the resting beef and simmer for 5 minutes, season to taste.

12. Using a very sharp knife carefully carve the Wellington into 6 thick slices. You can trim the pastry ends and serve them separately. Serve on heated plates with a jug of gravy.