My father is a big Beef Wellington fan. There was a restaurant in Hato Rey back in the eighties, Maxim, that served filet mignons with a spread of mushrooms and paté, wrapped in puff pastry and baked until the pastry turned flaky and golden. When we were planning my wedding, he suggested having it as the main course and we even tried it at the menu tasting. When Papa’s birthday came up, I knew I had to give this dish a try even though I had never made it before. Anyone can get by with a decent recipe and a healthy (?) dose of atrevimiento/chutzpah, right?
I don’t watch “Hell’s Kitchen”. Gordon Ramsay’s on-screen persona does not appeal to me at all. My sister and her boyfriend do, so when we gathered at my parents’ (where I cooked the meal) my chosen menu of Beef Wellington and risotto was met with some of that reality TV stigma/infamy. Turns out that both of those dishes – along with scallops, as I learned through the FFwD crowd – are recurring tests at that TV show. I could have used a viewing of one of those Beef Wellington episodes in hindsight. Let this post be yet another cautionary tales on the perils of overcooking beef tenderloin.
The recipe I selected, Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Beef Wellington, states that the tenderloin needs to be removed from the oven when it reaches an internal temperature of 125°F, so that after resting it would come up to 145°F (medium rare). Since Papa likes his steaks cooked to medium (160°F), I took the meat out when it hit 145. By the time I sliced through it, it was already cooked to medium well on the verge of losing its pink center. The layers of Dijon mustard, mushrooms duxelles, serrano ham, and pastry captured the heat in the meat, speeding the cooking process during the resting period. There were some redeeming qualities: the meat remained tender and moist despite the higher temperature. Searing the tenderloin before wrapping it in the pastry and allowing it to rest between steps ensured the juices stayed in.
I doubled the original Tyler Florence recipe to generously serve eight persons and take home some leftovers. The recipe as written states it yields six to eight servings, but I know my people.
Adapted from Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Beef Wellington
The Mushrooom Filling
- 1.5 pounds white button mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the mushrooms with the shallots, garlic and thyme and pulse until finely chopped. If you are working in batches, try to distribute the shallot and garlic pieces evenly by “load”. On a large sautee pan, heat the butter and olive oil over a medium flame, and add the mushroom mixture. Cook for at least twelve minutes, until the mushrooms have browned and all of the liquid has evaporated. Season the mushrooms to taste with salt and pepper and allow to cool. This step can be prepared a few hours in advance – just make sure to press any remaining moisture in the mushrooms with a paper towel.
- 1 3-4 pound beef tenderloin
- olive oil for searing the tenderloin
- 10 slices of jamón serrano or prosciutto
- leaves from 4 sprigs of thyme
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed right before using
- 1 egg, beaten
Season the beef tenderloin with salt and pepper, and coat with olive oil. In a Dutch oven or large heavy bottomed pot, bring about an extra tablespoon of olive oil to medium high heat. Sear the tenderloin on all sides, until browned on all sides. Remove from the heat and allow to rest until cool.
While the meat rests, lay on a large cutting board a piece of plastic wrap large enough to wrap the tenderloin in. Place the slices of ham on a single file on top of the plastic wrap, and with a spatula, cover the ham with a layer of the mushroom duxelles, about 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle the thyme leaves on top of the mushrooms. When the meat has cooled down, rub the tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and place the tenderloin on top of the ham/mushroom slices. Roll the tenderloin in the plastic wrap, forming a log like this:
Place the tenderloin the refrigerator, and let it rest for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, preheat the oven to 425˚F. On a large floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to 1/4 inch thick rectangle. Place the tenderloin in the center of the pastry, and fold over the longer sides while tucking in the edges. Trim any excess puff pastry, and seal the edges with beaten egg. Brush the pastry with the remaining eggs, sprinkle with extra salt, and cut a few slits on top of the tenderloin.
Bake tenderloin for about 25 minutes, or until its internal temperature registers 125˚F. Remove from the oven, and allow to rest until it reaches the desired level of doneness. Cut into thick slices and serve.