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The Caterer

Beef Wellington – by Brian Turner

11 September 2006
Beef Wellington – by Brian Turner

PREPARING THE PANCAKES

Ingredients
(serves six-eight banqueting portions)

110g flour
Salt
2 eggs
300ml milk
Oil

Method
Sift the flour and salt. Add the beaten egg and milk to form a smooth batter. Stir in parsley. Rest 30 minutes.

Heat a little oil in a 30cm pan. Pour in a ladle of batter, fry and turn the pancake.

Make a total of six pancakes.

PREPARING THE FILLETS

In order for the meat to cook evenly, you need to use only the middle cut of the fillet of beef. It does not have to be aged especially.

Ingredients
1 long fillet with the chain removed, about 2kg
Oil
Salt and pepper

Method
Cut off the châteaubriand end. Cut off the filet mignon end. Trim the silverskin lying over the middle-cut and any fat. You should have a piece of lean fillet 30cm long, weighing just over 1kg. Tie up the fillet at intervals with kitchen string, so that it has a consistent shape along its length.

Heat the oil in a pan until it smokes - it must be very hot. Sear the meat on all sides, so that it colours quickly without cooking. Don't forget to do the ends, too. Season.

Rest, cool, cut the string and discard it. Stand on kitchen paper to dry the surface.

FOR THE DUXELLES

Traditional duxelles included a proportion of diced ham, but few chefs add that nowadays. The flavour can be improved significantly by putting in any wild mushroom trimmings.

Ingredients
60g butter
70g finely diced shallots
750g finely chopped mushrooms
Salt and pepper

Method
Melt the butter in a large pan. Sweat the shallots in butter until softened, but not coloured. Add the mushrooms and fry over a high flame for two or three minutes. Transfer to the side of the range, season and leave to cook until most of the moisture has evaporated (about 20 minutes). The mixture should look "dry" and lightly browned on the spoon.

TO COMPLETE THE DUXELLES

Ingredients
450g cooked, slightly cooled duxelles
150g chicken or duck liver parfait

Method Combine the two ingredients.

Turner uses a foie gras parfait. Sweat 250g trimmed chicken livers in 50g butter, add 50g foie gras trimmings. Purée, sieve and incorporate 200g softened butter, Cognac or Madeira to taste. Add seasoning, and 100ml double cream, whisked till it holds its shape. Leave in fridge till firm.

ROLLING THE PASTRY

Choose either a flaky, a puff or a rough puff paste, one which will bake to a crisp rather than a short texture.

Ingredients
750g pastry
Flour

Method
Pin out the pastry on a floured surface to about 3mm thick. It must form a rectangle, about 60cm long by 40cm wide. Trim the edges.

ASSEMBLEY

Ingredients
6 pancakes
Duxelles
Seared fillet of beef
Rolled pastry
2 eggs + 1 yolk

Method
Lay the pancakes overlapping on a work surface. They should cover an area large enough to wrap up the fillet. Spread enough duxelles over one side of the fillet to cover it generously. Lay the covered surface on the pancake.

Spread more duxelles over the fillet to cover it completely. You'll need at least 350g.

Wrap the pancakes over the fillet. They will prevent the meat from making the pastry soggy during baking.

Lay the wrapped fillet in the middle of the sheet of rolled pastry. Make two cuts at each of the long ends to help envelop the meat. Brush the pastry edges with beaten egg. Fold the ends over the meat, then the sides, and seal the pastry edges well. Turn the beef Wellington on to an oiled baking sheet so that the join is hidden.

Brush the pastry with egg glaze. Scratch the surface of the pastry with a fork to help it absorb the glaze. Brush with a second coat of glaze.

Make three holes in the top of the paste to allow the steam to escape. The holes should cut through the pancake and duxelles layers. Rest 15 minutes to allow the pastry to relax.

For restaurant and banqueting service, the fillet can be prepared to this stage and chilled until required.

BAKING AND SERVING

Oven temperature will depend on the type of oven - conventional or convection. Brian Turner bakes at 250ºC in a standard gas oven, but 220ºC might be better in a modern forced-convection oven.

Baking time is also approximate. However, after 25 minutes the pastry should be cooked through, and the meat between rare and medium. Much longer and there is a risk that the meat will shrink, steam and be overdone.

After baking, allow the meat to settle for five minutes before serving. Slice off the pastry at one end and discard. Carve slices of meat 4cm-5cm thick. Depending on the style of service, you should obtain six à la carte or eight banqueting portions.

byBrian Turner

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