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BEEF WELLINGTON

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I’ve always thought the name, Beef Wellington, sounds very grand, like it’s named after some old general, although it’s most probably named after the hotel where it was first created. Come to think of it, it’s probably a bit of both. In this case, though, the dish actually lives up to its name. It is a grand dish for a grand occasion – perfect for a gathering of your nearest and dearest, or for a long-overdue dinner party. The piéce de résistance with this dish is when you slice it open to reveal the succulent filet mignon centre enrobed in layers of mushroom duxelles, spinach, parsley crêpes, and a buttery rough puff pastry. Why save it for a special occasion?

JAN | Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen | BEEF WELLINGTON

BEEF WELLINGTON

TIME: 3 hours | SERVES: 4

JAN | Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen | BEEF WELLINGTON
INGREDIENTS

for the rough puff pastry

250 g (270 ml) unsalted butter, cut into blocks

250 g (445 ml) cake flour                         

125 ml soda water

15 ml brandy (or lemon juice)

 

for the beef fillet

500 g beef filet mignon (the thicker part of the fillet)

5 ml Dijon mustard

salt and freshly ground black pepper

olive oil

for the parsley crêpes

150 g (270 ml) cake flour

1 ml salt

1 egg, beaten

310 ml milk

7 ml melted butter

7 g parsley, finely chopped

for the mushroom duxelles

olive oil

250 g white mushrooms, sliced

400 g large brown mushrooms, sliced

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

salt and freshly ground black pepper

to complete the Beef Wellington

rough puff pastry

4 crepes

50 g wilted baby spinach leaves

mushroom duxelles

1 egg, beaten

JAN | Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen | BEEF WELLINGTON
METHOD

for the rough puff pastry

Place the flour and a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and toss it around in the bowl to make sure it’s well covered with the flour. Add the soda water and brandy and mix with the flour. I find it’s best to use your hands. If you find the mixture is a bit dry, add 15 ml more soda water. Once all the ingredients are well mixed, turn it out onto a floured surface.

Roll the dough out in one direction into a long rectangle.

Fold the top part of the pastry to the centre. Use a pastry brush and dust off any excess flour on the pastry. Fold the bottom part of the pastry over the top fold and dust off any excess flour.

Then, fold the pastry like you’re closing a book and make horizontal indents in the pastry. This will give you an indication of how to roll out the pastry for the next step. Turn the pastry so that the indents are vertical, roll in one direction of the pastry again and repeat the folding process again.

Cover the pastry and let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Repeat this process at least 4 more times until all the butter has been incorporated into the pastry.

Keep the pastry in the fridge until needed. The pastry will also freeze well.

 

for the beef fillet

Rub the fillet with the Dijon mustard until evenly coated and season with salt and pepper.

Warm a frying pan on high heat until the pan is smoking hot. Carefully drizzle some olive oil onto the pan and sear the fillet for 30 seconds all around. Remove from the pan and leave to cool to room temperature. Place in the fridge until needed.

 

for the parsley crêpes

Place the flour and salt in a mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Mix the egg, milk and melted butter and slowly pour it into the well of the flour while whisking with a balloon whisk. Mix until smooth, then add the chopped parsley and mix well.

Heat a non-stick frying pan, drop a small amount of batter into the pan, swirl the pan so the batter spreads evenly. Leave to cook until small bubbles appear on the surface. Gently remove the crêpe from the pan and repeat with the rest of the batter.

 

for the mushroom duxelles

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan. Sauté the mushrooms in batches until all the mushrooms are cooked and golden brown. Once all the mushrooms are cooked, finely chop them and keep to one side.

In the same frying pan, heat a little olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and thyme. Sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, then add it to the chopped mushrooms and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

To complete the Beef Wellington

Heat the oven to 200 °C. Place the crêpes flat on a surface and allow them to slightly overlap.

Layer the wilted baby spinach leaves on top of the crêpes, then spread the duxelles over the spinach. Place the cold beef fillet in the centre and wrap the crepe around the fillet. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll the pastry out thinly onto a floured work surface. Place the fillet in the centre and cut 2 cm strips on each side.

Start plaiting the pastry by pulling a strip of pastry from the left over the fillet, then pull a strip from the right over the fillet so the two strips slightly overlap in the centre. When complete, brush with egg and place it in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes.

Take it out of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.

JAN | Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen | BEEF WELLINGTON
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