If I have time, I like to place the Beef Wellington parcels in the freezer for about 15 minutes prior to cooking so that the pastry is very cold before going into the oven.
- 4 beef fillet steaks (about 150g/5oz each)
- plain flour, for dusting
- 250 g ready-made puff pastry
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 egg (beaten)
- for the duxelles (mushroom stuffing):
- 2 tblsp olive oil
- 15 g butter
- 100 g shallot (peeled and finely chopped)
- 250 g mushrooms (finely chopped)
- salt and ground black pepper
- 75 ml dry white wine
- 75 ml double or regular cream
- 1 tblsp chopped tarragon
- 2 spring onions (trimmed and chopped)
- Tip in the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, then pour in the wine and cream and add the tarragon. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened. Stir in the spring onions, remove from the heat and spread the mixture out on a plate to allow it to cool.
- To sear the beef, place a griddle pan or a frying pan on a high heat and, when it is very hot, brown the steaks for 1 minute on each side, seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside, allowing the meat to rest for about 20 minutes until cool.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7).
- Lightly dust a work surface with flour and roll out the puff pastry into a large rectangle, about 40 x 60cm (16 x 24 in) and 3mm (1/8 in) thick. (If the work surface isn't large enough, just roll out two smaller rectangles, each about 30 x 40cm/12 x 16in) Using a sharp knife, trim the edges of the pastry (reserving the scraps for decorations, if you wish), then cut it into four smaller rectangles - or cut the two smaller rectangles in half - so that you have four rectangles in total, each measuring approximately 20 x 30cm (8 x 12 in).
- Spread about half a teaspoon of the mustard evenly over one side of each piece of pastry, leaving a gap of about 1cm (1/2 in) around the edges, then place a steak in the centre. Divide the duxelles between the four steaks, heaping it neatly on top of each one. Brush the edges of the pastry with a little of the beaten egg, then wrap up the steaks in the pastry as tidily as possible (see the tip below). Turn the parcels over so that the joins are facing down, then brush over the top with the beaten egg.
- If you wish, you can re-roll the discarded pastry scraps into a thin sheet about 3mm (1/8 in) thick, then cut into leaf shapes (or whatever shapes you like) and decorate the top of each parcel, making sure to brush all exposed pastry with the beaten egg. This will give it a lovely golden sheen.
- Place the Beef Wellingtons on the baking tray in the oven and cook for 10 minutes, or until the pastry is golden, before turning the temperature down to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6), to cook for another 5-10 minutes, by which stage the pastry should be completely cooked. Take out of the oven and serve immediately.
Rachel's Tip: When wrapping the pastry about the beef, you may need to cut off any excess pastry if you feel there is too much. You basically want a single layer of pastry everywhere except for where it joins - too much pastry overlapping will result in a very heavy and doughy Beef Wellington.
More by Rachel Allen:
- Steak and watercress bearnaise
- Ivan's chinese crispy mackerel pancakes
- Smocked haddock and cockle soup