The world as we know it may be in disarray because of the pandemic but the countryside continues its seasonal cycle unabated. Gregory Gladwin’s heritage breed Sussex cows can sense the winter on its way and frankly they are not that keen on the torrential autumn rains. Instead of disappearing into the further grazing fields they cluster by the yard gates mooing for attention. Barns have been lined with straw in preparation and within the next ten days our two herds will be brought into their respective sheds ready for a cozy winter of shared bodily warmth and of course carving the next generation.
There is no conclusive proof that Beef Wellington was created in honour of the first Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley. In fact the French Version Filet de Boeuf en Croute was definitely in existence before then. Nevertheless Wellington is an enticing name for this anglophile iteration of the dish. Indeed it sums up its key attributes quite nicely: sturdy, filling and something of a showstopper when placed on the table.
Fillet is the prime cut of beef; it is extremely tender, has no fat and is relatively mild in flavour. It therefore benefits from a “pate”(in this case mushroom) and encasing in rich puff pastry. Many claim Wellington as a “signature dish” and we want to avoid joining that club but it is definitely a “best seller” for Oliver in both Sussex and The Shed restaurants. He has inherited the recipe from our dad Peter who’s claim to fame was preparing, cooking and carving Beef Wellington for 800 people at one sitting at Guildhall in the City of London.
Peter Gladwin’s Beef Wellington
Serves 6-8 People
1 – 1.2 kg beef fillet
Salt & pepper
500g block of puff pastry
Flour for pastry rolling
1 egg salted & lightly beaten
For the Mushroom Druxelle
500g black or wild mushrooms, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 TBS chopped parsley
- Season the beef well with salt & pepper. Place a heavy based roasting tin directly onto a high heat on the hob and when it is very hot sear the fillet, rolling it on all sides.
- Immediately transfer to a pre-heated oven (220’C) and roast for 10 minutes
- Remove the beef from the oven and allow to cool
- Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat then fry the mushrooms and garlic. Season well and add the parsley. Leave to cool.
- When cold, place the mushroom mixture in a tea towel and squeeze out all the juice, (saving the juice to add to a sauce).
- Sprinkle the work surface with flour and roll out the pastry to an even rectangle approximately 40cm by 30cm. Trim the sides and save the pastry offcuts to decorate.
- Place the druxelle down the centre of the pastry lengthways to the same size as the beef fillet, place the beef on top.
- Fold the pastry over the meat and seal the overlap by brushing with beaten egg. Tuck each end in and again use the egg to seal. Turn the parcel over so the joins are on the underside.
- Use the pastry offcuts to decorate the Wellington with lattice strips.
- Brush the whole thing with the rest of the egg then place on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Refrigerate until ready to cook. Bake in a preheated oven at 180’C for 25 minutes until golden brown.
- Keep warm and allow to rest for about 5-10 minutes before presenting the dish at the table and then carving.
- We like to serve Beef Wellington with roasted root vegetables, Kale leaves and both Madeira demi glace and a sauce béarnaise but the choice is yours. Those recipes will have to wait for another day
Richard’s wines to match
For me a classic dish like this cries out for Bordeaux (Claret if we are insisting on the English version of everything). But I want to throw in a couple of different ideas too.
Treat your wines well, just like the cook will treat the expensive beef fillet. Bring them up to a good room temperature by opening an hour or 2 in advance, and if you have got a decanter gently pour the wine down the inside to aerate it. Oh and most important – don’t overfill your glass! You’re not being generous just boorish.
Carronne Ste Gemme, Haute Medoc. Great value and really reliable Cru Bourgeois vintage after vintage – rich in plum or damson flavours with good length and attractive tannins.
Cabernet Sauvignon’s from Yarra Valley, Victoria: Giant Steps, De Bortoli or Yering Station are all good but there are others including some Bordeaux blends. Often medium weight with ripe cherries, black pepper and sometimes licorice.
Tuscany- Cabernet Merlot Super Tuscan Blends- often softer, more velvety than Bordeaux but sharing some of the chestnut and ripe fruit characteristics. In some cases more oak but still a lovely companion for the Wellington.