The back story. This elegant staple of 1960s dinner parties derives its name from The Duke of Wellington, the nineteenth century English statesman and military officer. The name is not due to his gourmet tastes, however, but because the final dish is said to resemble the shiny dark military boots he wore.
Boots aside, it was Valentine’s and we wanted to treat ourselves at home as opposed to dining out. Initially our plan was a surf and turf riff of some sort, but then The Hubs ran across these individual “wellies” from NY Times Cooking, and we never looked back. The dinner, with a fantastic bottle of rioja wine, red salad, red baby bliss potatoes and the most mouth-watering tender braised leeks was a moment in Heaven, sigh.
Beef Wellington traditionally is a 2 to 4 pound beef tenderloin topped with mushroom duxelles and foie gras pate, and then encased in puff pastry. The preparation is simplified by instead wrapping individual beef filets. The Hubs had the romantic idea of adding heart embellishments with the leftover puff pastry and I whole”heart”edly jumped on that idea ❤
The filets need to be cut about 1 1/2-inches thick to ensure that the meat doesn’t dry out or become overcooked while roasting in the oven. If the meat is cut thinner, reduce the oven cooking time appropriately. And if your filets are greater than six ounces, the puff pastry may need to be cut into a larger square in order to envelop the meat completely. Ours were over 6 ounces, yet I managed with just the one sheet.
Also, the cooking plus resting time, is for meat that’s served medium-rare. If you like your meat more done, increase the initial cooking time in the skillet by another minute or two, and monitor the doneness of the meat from the oven with an instant-read thermometer. This recipe makes 2 servings, but it easily can be doubled.
Individual Beef Wellington
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 (6-oz.) filet mignons, at least 1 1/2″ thick
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 4 oz. cremini mushrooms, wiped clean, stemmed, and finely chopped
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 1/2 tsp. herbes de Provence
- 1 tsp. honey
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 2 Tbsp. heavy cream
- Frozen puff pastry (1 sheet from 17 1/4-oz. package), thawed but still cold
- 1 large egg
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon oil. Generously season the filet mignons with salt and pepper, and sear until the surfaces on the top, bottom and rounded sides are no longer raw, about 2 minutes total. Transfer the steaks to a plate, reserving the oil in the skillet. Brush or spread on the Dijon mustard all over each filet and refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes.
- Turn the heat to medium-high, and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add the mushrooms and shallot, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until deeply browned and no longer watery, about 10 to 12 minutes. Be patient: The mushrooms will first release some water; then, once that liquid evaporates, the vegetables will start to brown. If they are starting to stick before they brown, lower the heat or add a little water to the pan.
- When the mushrooms are deeply browned, reduce the heat to medium and stir in the herbes de Provence, honey, wine and cream. Let the liquids bubble and reduce until the moisture is thick and jammy, about 2 minutes. transfer to a small dish and refrigerate until cool.
- To assemble the Wellingtons, cut the puff pastry sheet in half (it doesn’t matter which direction). Lightly flour your working surface. Use a rolling pin to evenly roll each sheet into an 1/8-inch-thick rectangle. Mount a filet mignon-size circle of the chilled mushroom mixture in the center of each rolled-out sheet, evenly dividing the mixture between the 2 sheets. Top each mound of mushrooms with a filet.
- Carefully bring the edges of the puff pastry up and over the steaks, stretching the dough if needed to completely cover the meat. Twist the tops of the dough to seal the filling, as if you’re making dumplings. You want an even, uniform layer of pastry, so trim any overlapping dough as you go. When the tops are nicely sealed, flip the Wellingtons over, seam side down, and transfer to a parchment lined sheet pan. You can use your hands to gently tighten each Wellington into perfectly smooth spheres. Refrigerate to chill completely before baking, at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours (ours were refrigerated 6 hours).
- Heat the oven to 425°. In a small dish, whisk the egg until homogenous and, using a pastry brush or your fingers, evenly coat the entire outsides of the chilled Wellingtons with the egg, discard the remainder. Bake until the pastry is golden brown, 17 to 20 minutes. The internal temperature should read 120° for medium-rare (it will continue to cook as it rests.)
- Transfer the Wellingtons to serving plates.Let them rest for about 15 minutes before serving.
Recipe from the NYTimes Cooking