With my extremely English father in town, I decided last night to attempt my first ever Beef Wellington. There are many variations of this patriotic dish with most smearing a seared tenderloin/fillet of beef with pate and/or a mushroom duxelle before wrapping in in parma ham, rolling it in puff pastry and baking it. To prepare myself mentally for the challenge, I watched a couple of very worthwhile videos on Youtube from Gordon Ramsay, first this short one (which I basically followed), as well as this longer, Christmas themed one, especially useful for learning more about the art of rolling it it up. I recommend watching both twice to give you a good grounding before you start.
I used a half NZ grass-fed Angus beef tenderloin from MM Fresh Food which weighs approx. 1kg and feeds 4 comfortably. We seared it then caked it in a mushroom duxelles before wrapping it in streaky bacon. The latter turned out to produce a little too much water, so I would go for parma ham next time. Another tip would be to buy more pastry than you need so you can have fun decorating it, possibly in a more sophisticated way than with your kids' cookie cutter stars!
By the way, if you are shopping for this, I would try to find extra large/wide clingfilm as the standard length was a bit short for wrapping my half fillet. Doable but not ideal...
As I waited for it to cook, there was a fair amount of nail biting going on, as I dreaded the meat overcooking while the pastry remained raw. Gordon states 35 minutes "depending on how well cooked you like it", not a terribly useful comment, while foodie friends I had whatsapped during the prep suggested a confusingly wide spectrum of times for a pink finish. The most useful advice I read came from the blog Serious Eats:
"At 425°F, a chilled tenderloin will take between 30 and 40 minutes to reach an internal temperature of 110 to 120°F (rare to medium-rare, and you *are* using a thermometer, aren't you?), which is precisely how long you need to properly brown your puff pastry. Serendipity? I think not. Try careful planning and sound science!"
Previously hoping to wing it, I took heed of this advice and reached for my digital meat thermometer (Thermopen 4), waiting for it to reach 112F to achieve the look above. FYI, you can buy these from Peek Concepts in HK and get 5% off the entire range with the code MANGO16 until the end of March 2016.
So the Beef Welly was a success overall, which I served with a potato gratin and steamed greens. Special thanks to my friends Ale and Jody, my HK foodie and cooking gurus, who received a stream of anxious whatsapps during the prep and responded with great tips and reassuring comments. I'll make it for you next time I promise...