I had originally planned on making a roast this year, but I wasn’t really excited about the idea. Then I thought about making a crown roast of pork, but I was too late for ordering it from Galvan’s, our local butcher, Costco didn’t have it and the smallest one I could get a Draeger’s was 16 lbs! I don’t like pork that much.
Kathy suggested that I make Beef Wellington instead, and for luck of a better option, I agreed. I had made Beef Wellington for Christmas dinner in 2007, from meat I’d gotten @ Galvan’s for close to $20lb, and it hadn’t been totally successful. I overcooked the meat a bit and the crust came off when I was transferring it to the serving plate. Still, I figured I should give it another try.
This time, I decided to get the meat at Costco, where the investment would be smaller. Costco offered trimmed beef tenderloins for $17lb and untrimmed ones for $10lb. I decided to go for the latter not just because of the much lower price tag, but because I needed fat for larding the beef (Costco won’t give you any fat, they say they’re not allowed to). It proved to be a great decision. The untrimmed beef tenderloin roasts barely have any fat on them to begin with, and you will definitely need what is there to lard the roast. Indeed, if you do buy your beef at Costco look for a tenderloin that seems to be on the fatty side.
I also decided to try a new recipe this time, and came cross this one at epicurious.com. It was perfect! On try 2 (on try 1 I forgot I had the tenderloin in the oven and by the time I remembered it it had cooked to over 160F, the meat was delicious and perfectly fine for eating but I was afraid it wouldn’t stand being put in the oven again, so back I went to Costco for tenderloin #2) the Beef Wellington came out *perfect*, it was perfectly cooked medium rare and the crust stayed on it without any problems. I have to say that armed with this recipe, I’ve mastered this dish! 🙂
This recipe calls for a 3 1/2 lb tenderloin which should serve 8 people without any problems. However, Costco didn’t have any tenderloins that weighed under 5 lbs – so that’s how much I bought. Note that a heavier tenderloin is merely a longer tenderloin, so you do not need to increase the cooking times. Just keep the ones in the recipe and you’ll be fine.
If your tenderloin is over 3 1/2 lbs, however, you will want to make more duxelles (mushrooms). Indeed, I’d say to just go ahead and double the recipe below – better to have more than necessary than not enough. I didn’t have enough for my filet, so I left a part without it and it wasn’t as good.
Beef Wellington is supposed to be covered with Pate de Foie Gras, which 3 years ago I got at Ratto’s in Oakland. Well, they no longer carry it and couldn’t tell me where else to get it, so rather than rush all over town looking for it, I just got some duck pate from Lucky’s. I can’t remember the brand, but it was very good, it tasted very much like pate de foie gras. The package was only 5.5 oz or so, but I felt that was enough for my beef, though a bit more would have been nice.
As for the pastry I used Trader Joe’s frozen/defrosted puff pastry. I used both sheets to wrap the tenderloin and half of an additional sheet to decorate it. For a 3 1/2 lb tenderloin, you can definitely do it with 1lb puff pastry.
Finally, I made the sauce for the Wellington in advance and it as too thick when I tried to reheat it. I wasn’t thrilled by the flavor, so I didn’t serve it and I wouldn’t bother making it next time. I’m skipping it from this recipe, but you can look for it at the original recipe site.
4 lbs or larger beef tenderloin, untrimmed
2 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
12 oz mushrooms, finely chopped
8 oz duck pate, at room temperature
1 egg, separated
1 tsp. water
1 lb puff pastry plus additional for garnish
Remove tenderloin from fridge and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Trim fat from surfaces of the tenderloin. Place fat back on top of the tenderloin and tie it securely with multiple pieces of string. Put tenderloin on roasting pan, fat side up, and cook until an instant thermometer register 120F, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely (1-2 hours at room temperature). Remove and discard fat and strings.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium-size pot over medium-low heat. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms are nicely dry, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and let cool completely.
Spread pate over the top and sides of the tenderloin. Press mushrooms on top of the pate. Set aside.
Lightly grease a roasting pan or baking sheet.
Beat the egg white in a small bowl. In another bowl, beat the egg white with 1 tsp. of water.
Flour a working surface and rolling pin and roll puff pastry sheets until they are large enough to encase the tenderloin. One and half pastry sheet should be enough, but use 2 if your tenderloin is large enough. Carefully lay puff pastry sheets on top of the tenderloin and lift to envelope, folding pastry under the tenderloin. Brush egg yolk to seal.
Place wrapped tenderloin on roasting pan or baking sheet. Brush top and and sides of the tenderloin with the egg white.
If desired, roll more puff pastry and cut into decorative shapes with cookie cutters. Place shapes on top of the wrapped tenderloin and brush with egg white. Cover tenderloin with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Place roasting pan with Beef Wellington in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350F and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Christmas Eve 2010 Menu
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