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Beef Wellington

Until quite recently the very mention of English food was enough to deter even the keenest  of overseas Anglophiles from nearing our shores. Their decision to avoid our green and pleasant land was probably justified; more so as we Brits were also fed up with the bland overpriced, post war rubbish we were being served in the name of English cuisine. It is only now, after all these years that England is beginning to recover from its once deplorable culinary reputation.

This ill repute came mainly from foreigners visiting London or other of our major cities.  But if our foreign visitor had been invited to one of the many venerable gentleman’s club, he  – females not being allowed – would have dined as the Germans say, “Wie Gott in Francreisch.” With a little prior information as where to eat outside the metropolitan areas he or she (females were allowed) would have found food equal to the French or Italian kitchen, and without doubt better than “like God in Germany.”

This week’s recipe (care of Gordon Ramsey) is a classical English dish, was named in1856 in honour of the Duke of Wellington. Believe me, it’s worth the effort and will impress your friends, family and even your overseas visitor.

Beef Wellington
Serves 2

    * 400g Beef fillet
    * 400g Flat mushrooms
    * 4 slices Parma ham
    * English mustard for brushing meat
    * 200g puff pastry
    * 2 Egg yolks
    * Approx 8 Charlotte/New potatoes
    * 1 Clove garlic, crushed
    * 1 Sprig thyme
    * 2 large baby gem lettuce
    * Salt and pepper
    * Olive oil
    * Mustard vinaigrette, optional

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200c.
2. Heat some oil in a large pan and quickly fry the seasoned beef all over until it's brown. Remove and allow to cool. The point of this is simply to sear the beef and seal all those juices in, you don't want to cook the meat at this stage. Allow to cool and brush generously with the mustard.
3. Roughly chop the mushrooms and blend in a food processor to form a puree. Scrape the mixture into a hot, dry pan and allow the water to evaporate. When sufficiently dry (the mixture should be sticking together easily), set aside and cool.
4. Roll out a generous length of cling film, lay out the four slices of Parma ham, each one slightly overlapping the last. With a pallet knife spread the mushroom mixture evenly over the ham.
5. Place the beef fillet in the middle and keeping a tight hold of the cling film from the outside edge, neatly roll the parma ham and mushrooms over the beef into a tight barrel shape. Twist the ends to secure the clingfilm. Refrigerate for 10 -15 minutes, this allows the Wellington to set and helps keep the shape.
6. Roll out the pastry quite thinly to a size which will cover your beef. Unwrap the meat from the cling film. Egg wash the edge of the pastry and place the beef in the middle. Roll up the pastry, cut any excess off the ends and fold neatly to the 'underside'. Turnover and egg wash over the top. Chill again to let the pastry cool, approximately 5 minutes. Egg wash again before baking at 200c for 35 - 40 minutes. Rest 8 -10 minutes before slicing.
7. Par boil the potatoes in salted water. Quarter them and leave the skin on. Sauté in olive oil and butter with the garlic and thyme, until browned and cooked through. Season. Remove the thyme and garlic before serving.
8. Separate the outside leaves of the baby gem (leaving the smaller inner ones for salads) and very quickly sauté them in a pan of olive oil with a little salt and pepper - just enough to wilt them.
9. Serve hearty slices of the Wellington alongside the sautéed potatoes and wilted baby gems. A classic mustard vinaigrette makes a great dressing. - Fly at a Smile-Price