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December 11, 2018
When planning a special occasion dinner, nothing is more impressive than a Beef Wellington. Recently, I made one for a photo shoot for FRESH by Brookshire’s to advertise Certified Angus Beef Prime Beef Fillet. We do these shoots every couple of weeks and this was for the holiday circular for the first two weeks of December. Prime time for parties, celebrations and impressive food.
One of the reasons I am the stylist for these shoots is because they want the food to look real. Hopefully, people will look at the plate and think that looks delicious and I can do that too. That’s a big reason I love what I do. I want to share the food and see other people enjoy it. It's not just about a pretty picture, I want people to be inspired to cook and share the food with family and friends.
So here’s the Beef Wellington, as real as it gets. I used only a few food stylist tricks, but only to cover mistakes - I mean learning experiences - that may have happened along the way.
For the Mushrooms:
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds white button or baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Beef:
1 (3ish pounds) center cut beef tenderloin fillet, trimmed of fat, about 6 to 8 inches long
4 tablespoons cooking oil (do not use olive oil)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour, for rolling out puff pastry
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions (I buy two boxes, just in case.)
1 egg, lightly beaten
coarse sea salt
To make the mushrooms: Add oil to a large sauté pan and set over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and onions and sauté lightly for 8 to 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 additional minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool completely.
To prepare the beef: Rub the meat with 2 tablespoons of oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Place a skillet (preferably, cast iron) over high heat. Do not add oil yet, but let the pan heat until it is almost smoking. When pan is hot, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the meat. Let the meat sear on all sides, including the ends. Lower the heat to medium so that the sear is not too dark. You want a good crust on all sides that will seal in all the juices. This should take 30 seconds to 1 minutes per side depending on the heat of your pan.
When all sides are seared place on a plate and put in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes. You want the meat to cool completely and stop cooking so that when you wrap it in the pastry, it doesn’t melt the pastry. Plus the meat will cook more in the oven after you wrap it with the pastry.
On a lightly floured surface, unfold a sheet of puff pastry. Lightly roll out the pastry so that it is large enough to wrap completely around the piece of meat. You don’t want to roll the pastry too much or too thin. Over rolling the pastry will prevent it from puffing. If you think your piece of meat is too big, you may need to use 2 sheets. Overlap the sheets and then roll slightly to cover the seams. Spread the mushroom mixture in the center of the pastry where meat will be placed. The mushroom mixture will cover the top and part of the sides of the meat, so spread accordingly depending on the size of your fillet. Set the beef in the center of the pastry and fold up the ends and then the longer sides. Trim ends if necessary then brush with egg wash. Place the beef seam side down on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Roll out another piece of puff pastry and cut into 1 inch wide strips to make a lattice or you can do other decorative pieces, like leaves or diamonds. Whatever you decide to do, remember to adhere the pieces with egg wash so they stay in place when the pastry puffs. Also, if you do lattice, make strips long enough to tuck under the bottom. Otherwise they will stick out after baking. (I made this mistake.)
After decorating, brush all of the pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Serve immediately. Meat will continue to cook inside the pastry after it is out of the oven. So don’t wait too long to cut into it or the meat will be well done. (Click on gallery photos to see notes & tips with each photo.)