Recipe: Classic beef Wellington

January's almost over - why not treat yourself to Domini Kemp's take on a classic dish


Classic beef Wellington

Serves 4

If you are serving more people, make several rather than one big long piece, as the end bits will probably get too well done and it will be tricky to move from A to B

4 tbsps olive oil
50g butter
Salt and pepper
Sprinkle of caster sugar
Approx 700-800g fillet of beef, whole piece1 onion, peeled and very finely chopped
Few sprigs thyme
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
250g button mushrooms, very finely diced
Splash of cream
8-12 slices Parma ham
Approx 250g ready-made puff pastry
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten

Heat half the olive oil and half the butter in a large frying pan or chargrill pan until it is very hot. Sprinkle the top of the beef with salt, pepper and a little sugar and brown the meat, seasoned side down. Sprinkle some more seasoning on to the top surface and then turn it over and sear the other side till you get plenty of charred colour, without any real cooking of the interior. Try to do this so that the beef is seasoned well and nicely caramelised on all sides. Remove it from the pan, allow it to cool down and refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat up the rest of the olive oil and butter and fry the onion till soft. Add the thyme, garlic and mushrooms. Cook on a high heat – you want to cook the hell out of the mushrooms so you end up with a very dry mixture. Add the cream, season and cook again until the mixture is uber tasty and dry. Set aside to cool.

When the beef and mushrooms are cold, lay out three sheets of cling film, one on top of another, to give extra strength to your parcel. Lay out a large blanket of Parma ham slices and spread it lightly with a layer of mushrooms. Place the beef in the centre, and wrap it all up by rolling the cling film – almost as you would for rolling a swiss roll – so that you end up with a tight log shape. Twist the ends of the cling film tightly, and chill the parcel for a few hours.

When the pastry has defrosted, roll it out quite thinly and cut it into one neat rectangle. Unwrap the clingfilm from the beef parcel and place the meat lengthways in the centre of the pastry. Trim away excess pastry so that the beef can be rolled and wrapped snugly. Brush the pastry rim generously with egg yolk and wrap up the beef parcel, ensuring that the mushrooms do not poke through any gaps. Cut away any excess pastry at the ends. Dip your fingers in water and use them to smooth out the seams and ensure the pastry is snug against the beef. Then place the ugly sealed side down on to a plate that you’ve lined with some greaseproof paper. Brush the entire parcel with egg yolk and chill until ready to bake.

Heat an oven to 190 degrees/gas 5 and preheat a non-stick baking sheet. Just before baking, lightly score the pastry with a sharp knife, but don’t cut all the way through. Cook the beef, straight from the fridge – seam side down – until the pastry is golden-brown and the beef medium rare, which should take about 15 minutes. If you want the meat cooked more, just watch the pastry doesn’t burn, so turn down the oven to 170 degrees/gas 3 and bake for an extra five to 10 minutes. But when the pastry is a lovely golden brown, it should be perfect inside. Allow to rest for at least eight minutes before carving.

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