Food You Can Eat: Beef Wellington

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I often make this for Christmas lunch-ish. We eat around 2, just the two of us, and The Faithful Hound is crazy about it. I don’t know how crazy I am for giving him mushrooms but he gets a slice that I unwrap and try to scrape the mushrooms out of. He also doesn’t get any of the sauce, poor beast.

I know what you’re thinking: Cousin Matthew, you’re really testing my patience. But hear me out. The reason why Beef Wellington is notoriously hard to make is that it involves pate (there should be a circumflex over the a and an accent over the e) and homemade puff pastry. The p-word (God I hate Pages so much, it does the unimaginable: it’s worse than Word) has pretty much gone away, I think it’s now banned in New York, and you can buy really decent frozen puff pastry sheets. That’s 90% of the battle won. Still, this requires some skill but it’s not insurmountable. You will need a food processor and kitchen twine.

You need to do three things: Make the beef, make a mushroom mixture (called duxelles), and make a sauce. Imagine doing this with the p-word thrown in for extra fun, which I did twice years ago. I always use frozen puff pastry but if you want to make your own…

Believe it or not this requires just one skillet and one baking sheet.


For the beef:

2 lbs. of center-cut tenderloin, also known as Chateaubriand, if my Chateaubriand recipe has already been posted

Salt and pepper, coarse salt and ground pepper ideally

A jar of Dijon mustard

Some olive oil

A sheet of puff pastry, large enough to accommodate the beef, the duxelles, and the prosciutto. You’ll know how much you’ll need later on. 

A large egg for a puff pastry egg wash

Thin slices of prosciutto, maybe about 1/4 pound


For the duxelles:

1 1/2 pounds of smallish mushrooms

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 tbsp thyme from your spice rack

A little salt if you want

2 tbsp. or so of butter, for the skillet


For the sauce (optional):

2 tbsp butter

3 or 4 more cloves of garlic

More thyme from the spice rack, another tbsp. let’s say

3 cups beef stock. As an aside, my supermarket sells three brands of this and they only come in 32-oz. quantities. This is another mystery. Who decided this would be the industry standard?

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard from your jar

A splash of heavy cream, as a thickener



Tie the beef with kitchen twine so it holds together. In the Chateaubriand recipe I don’t mention doing this but for Beef Wellington you want the tenderloin to hold its shape. Salt and pepper away. Put some olive oil in a skillet and turn up to high (medium-high for me; I have a gas stove). When it’s good and hot use tongs to sear the beef on all sides, so it browns. Two minutes per area is enough; it’s going in the oven later.  When done, remove from heat and put the beef on a plate. Let it cool down and when it’s warm enough to handle, cut off the twine and rub or brush on Dijon mustard so every square inch is covered. Put it back on the plate and put in the fridge. 

Make the duxelles. Pulse the dry ingredients in a food processor. Go back to your skillet, put it back to medium, melt the butter, and put in the mushroom mix. This will generate quite a bit of liquid and you want it to cook off pretty thoroughly, so they’ll be sitting in there for a while. Don’t try to hasten along. Give them 20 minutes at least. If it’s going faster than that reduce the heat because you want this to spend quality time together. Transfer this to a bowl and let it join the beef in the fridge.

Now, put a big sheet of plastic wrap on a counter and lay out your prosciutto slices. Try to judge how to do this: you’ll be wrapping the beef in this so don’t spread everything out too far but far enough that the whole piece will be covered.

Retrieve the duxelles and spread those over the prosciutto. Get the beef out and place at one end and roll in the plastic wrap so that the prosciutto and the duxelles cover it. Wrap this tightly, like a deli hero/sub, whatever your region calls the sandwiches, and put it back in the fridge. Now would be a good time to have a restorative drink. The beef should stay in the fridge for the time it takes for you to polish off the glass, at least 20 minutes.

So now you’ve seen what you’ve done. Flour a counter space, get out the thawed pastry dough and roll it so that it’s thin, if it’s not already. Estimate how much you’ll need but be generous. In a small bowl beat an egg. Brush the top surface with the egg. 

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees. Carefully unwrap the tenderloin and put it at one end. Carefully roll it in the pastry dough so it looks like a burrito. If you have too much dough cut away at the excess. Leave enough on the ends so that you can seal them by pinching them. Coat the whole thing in egg again, make little slits on the top to let steam escape (put the seam side on the bottom), place on a baking sheet, and put it on the middle rack in the oven. I leave it in for 30 minutes but if you have a meat thermometer don’t take it out until the interior temp reaches 130 degrees at least. The thing about Beef Wellington is that it has to be medium rare, medium possibly, because if you try to get the tenderloin beyond that the pastry will start to burn. 

Use your 30 minutes to refresh your glass and make the sauce. Return to the skillet, which you have not washed. Put the heat on medium and melt the butter, then add the garlic cloves and thyme and sauté. Add the three cups of beef stock and turn up to high. Let about half of it boil off so you get a reduction. This can take a while so be mindful of the Beef Wellington. Add the cream and the mustard and stir a few times. Remove from heat.

Remove the beef and let rest for about 10 minutes, at least. It’s too hot to eat. Same with the sauce, and it will thicken while it’s on time-out. Slice the Beef Wellington and pour on the sauce.

Now that wasn’t hard, was it?



  1. …& now I’m hungry & I don’t have the fixings…so that’s something to aspire to, thank you

    …do enjoy a nice beef wellington but never seriously contemplated making it…your version sounds eminently doable though…so I think I have shopping to do

  2. OHMYGOD (old-fashioned, I know), that photo. I MUST HAVE IT. 
    Sorry. I’ve been pretty much on permanent DASH diet for several years, and every now and then a beef dish hits me hard.

  3. PS: When I came to late this morning I finally posted my own contribution to last night’s NOT.  The gist of it was I served one of the worst meals I’ve ever made to a woman I’d never met who turned out to be a regional (hers, not mine) well-respected Martha Stewart type. But like all my stories there is a strong element of farce and the evening went well, over all.

    • Dude! We missed you last night!!! Butcher was looking for his bedtime story. I going there right now to read it. Also, this is a perfect FYCE – aspirational but attainable and it delicious.

  4. Regular duck livers are still around even though the foie gras has been banned in some places, so you could go and make a more pedestrian pate if you really wanted to. But that turns a lot of work into an insane amount of work.

    • I have a feeling you wouldn’t want to make or serve this but if you look around there are ways to make faux-paté out of plain old deli liverwurst (unsliced, this is key, and also from the middle, not the ends of what the deli has.). It’s pork liver (and other stuff) but if you add a little cream cheese and then spice it and add Worcestershire sauce you can make a decent cracker spread out of it. I wouldn’t cook with it but even when foie gras was available I used to do this because it ended up costing maybe 1/3 of what the real thing would have cost.

  5. The mushrooms have replaced  the goose liver? Good, I’d eat this but not pâté. I think I could make this. It’s involved but none of the steps seems difficult. Famous last words.

    • As long as you buy decent premade pastry dough and have, oh, I don’t know, HOURS to work with this (most of it is passive) it’s not that difficult. 
      I hope I never run into a Great Chef in the afterlife because I’ll tell you a little story. One of my many nieces and nephews got married about 15 years ago and the mother of the bride had a fairly large group of us back to the house for lunch the day before so the families could kind of get to know each other. My nephew told me to beware, his future mother-in-law “loved to cook” but wasn’t that great at it. “Oh, I don’t mind, I’ll eat anything, In fact I’ll help out if she’ll let me!”
      What she did was she heated a big pot of several cans of mushroom gravy, fried enough Steak-Ums to feed about 20, and served this as sandwiches with toasted bread, eaten with a knife ad fork. It was delicious. While I worked away with her I said, “You’re making a very 21st-century-American version of Beef Wellingtons. ” “A what?” “Oh, nothing, just a version of something I only started making a year or two ago…”
      There really is nothing new under the sun.

  6. No liver here. I started to get grossed out by all meats as I found an affinity to more eastern philosophical practices. It began with never wanting to pull a necks and giblets out of a bird carcass, to refusing to cook game, to almost getting sick when I saw a skinned whole rabbit I had mistakenly agreed to cook. My aversion grew as I saw factory farming practices, and pigs kept as pets, and a local rescue farm’s residents. I still will cook the occasional meat for others, but stick to a pescatarian/vegetarian diet. And yes – I now eschew leather goods. Although somewhere in the basement is a mink jacket from the 1950’s that was my mother’s. I don’t wear it, but I fondly remember her wearing it to go out “fancy”.

  7. How much food is this? Like do you guys polish it off with some scraps for faithful hound in one sitting or are you snacking on it for days? 

    Re: puff pastry – Frozen is just fine; making it is a pain in the ass and the ROI is looow. 

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