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Filet of Beef Wellington
Some say it was his favorite meal, and others claim it resembled the boots that he wore. Whatever the case may be, the Duke of Wellington has a grand dish named after him, which became the entertaining extravaganza of the 1960s.
This is a whole filet of beef with a mushroom filling, covered with a decorative puff pastry crust and served on a large platter with watercress garnish and/or accompanying vegetables.
Preliminary Baking: This stiffens the meat so that it will hold its shape in the crust. Rub the meat with cooking oil and bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees or until the thermometer registers 120 degrees F., turning the meat once and basting it with the fat in the pan.
3 Tb. butter, unsalted
1 lb. mushrooms, chopped
4 Tb. shallots, minced
½ cup dry sherry
¼ cup parsley, chopped
salt/pepper, to taste
Melt butter, add mushrooms and shallots and cook until the mushrooms lose their liquid, about 7-8 minutes. Add sherry and parsley and boil until all liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper.
2 lbs. of puff pastry; at least 1 will be needed for the meat and extra for the decorations.
Assembling and Baking:
Place the beef on top of the dough and cover with the mushroom duxelles. Roll the remaining dough around the meat so that it is completely covered. Paint pastry with an egg glaze of 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 t. water. Make decorations of strips, circles, leaf shapes, or diamonds. Canapé cutters can be used. Paint with the egg glaze. Make several small vent holes in the pastry for escaping steam. Chill 1-2 hours in the refrigerator.
Bake 20 minutes at 450 degrees until the pastry starts to brown (130-140 degrees F. for rare). Test with a meat thermometer. Let stand 15 minutes. Carve with a sharp serrated edge knife. Garnish with watercress.
Baked stuffed mushroom caps, cherry tomatoes stuffed with spinach or sour cream and caviar, braised lettuce, asparagus tips, or other colorful vegetables.
© Sally Bernstein, 2004