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Filet de boeuf en croûte (Beef Wellington)



This extraordinarily sumptuous dish probably does not owe its name to the great Sir Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington of Napoleonic war fame. Perhaps it was a rare subversive attempt to Anglicise a French dish during that time. However one names it, it is a treat and makes for an indulgent Sunday lunch.

It  is essentially a piece of beef fillet wrapped in a pâté consisting variably of mushrooms, ground meat or foie gras. I have used ground Portobello mushrooms with a prosciutto wrap with an outer wrap of puff pastry. If you wish to make a version with smaller slices, then feel free to use Aberdeen Angus fillet. Feel free to use ready made puff pastry. 1 fillet feeds 6 – 8 people. It goes well with sauté potatoes and wilted kale. Serve this dish with a mature claret.

6 tbsp olive oil

14 oz (400 gms) Portobello mushrooms, chopped

Salt and pepper

1 whole beef fillet, surface-dried and seasoned

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

10 slices prosciutto ham

21 0z (600 gms) puff pastry

Plain flour to dust

2 egg yolks, beaten

Place the mushrooms in a food processor and blend with seasoning until it produces a coarse paste. Warm 2 tbsp the olive oil in a shallow pan and under a moderate heat, sauté the paste until the water content of the mushrooms has evaporated. In the meantime, prepare a rectangular sheet of cling film large enough to wrap around the beef fillet with a small amount of overlap. Lay the sheet out on a work surface then arrange the prosciutto slices in overlapping palisades so as to cover the cling film. Spoon out the seasoned mushroom paste onto the prosciutto slices and, using a spatula or palette knife, spread it evenly.

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In a separate heavy pan, heat the remaining olive oil. Sauté the beef fillet on all sides until it is browned all over. This will take about 10 minutes to complete. It is important not to overcook the fillet. Take the fillet out of the pan and place it in the centre of the layered cling film rectangle. Carefully wrap the cling film with its prosciutto and mushroom layers around the fillet and carefully place the overlap it at the base. Place the wrapped fillet on baking sheet and mould it into a neat roll shape. Refrigerate it for 30 minutes to help it keep its shape.

 

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Preheat the oven to 360F/180C/GM6. Dust a work surface with flour and roll out the puff pastry into a 2 mm layer or perhaps the width of a thick coin. Take the beef out of the refrigerator and carefully remove the cling film. Place the wrapped fillet into the centre of the pastry and wrap it neatly. Carefully connect the seam of pastry in a neat line. Cut out excess areas of puff pastry. Shape the Wellington and place it seam down on a baking sheet. Brush the pastry all over with the egg yolk. Using a knife make regular scores in the pastry but do not penetrate the width of the pastry. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 320F/160C/GM3 and continue baking for another 30 minutes. Remove the Wellington and allow to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

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