There are few who don’t get excited about this dish. Ruby-red beef fillet with earthy mushrooms and indulgent foie gras in a shield or crisp puff pastry. Done well, it can be mind blowing. Leave out the foie gras if you think it’s too much.
1kg piece of the best beef fillet you can find
Salt and pepper
1 garlic clove
1 sprig of thyme
200g wild mushrooms, cleaned
1 tsp truffle oil
Small pinch of chopped parsley
1 savoy cabbage
200g foie gras (optional)
500 g block of all-butter puff pastry
1 egg, to glaze
-Season the fillet liberally. Heat a large pan and, when hot, quickly brown the beef on all sides. Remove from the pan, put on a plate, allow to cool then put into the fridge to chill.
-Melt the butter in a small pan. Crush the garlic and add to the pan with the thyme. Finely chop the mushrooms, add to the pan and fry until lightly browned and most of the moisture has been driven off, then season and stir in the truffle oil and parsley. Set aside to chill.
-Pull off the large outer leaves of the cabbage and cut out the thick middle stem. Blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes, then remove and plunge into cold water. Drain, squeeze out excess moisture and lay them out on the worktop, overlapping, so they are big enough to wrap the fillet. Spread the mushrooms over the middle. Slice the foie gras, if using, and lay on top. Finally put the fillet on top and wrap the leaves round it. Make sure there are no gaps (this helps keep the juices away from the pastry). Place in the fridge to firm up.
-Roll the pastry into a rectangle large enough to cover the whole fillet. Place the cabbage-encased fillet in the middle and wrap one side of the pastry right over so it meets the other side. Crimp the edges all round. Place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to set the pastry, then beat an egg with a pinch of salt and brush all over the Wellington to glaze it.
-Heat the oven to 200ºC. Heat a large baking tray until hot, then place the Wellington directly on it. This stops it getting a soggy butt. The pastry will take about 30 minutes to cook. To serve the beef rare will take about 40 minutes, so turn the oven down to 180ºC after 20 minutes so the pastry doesn’t burn. If you like it well done, add 20 minutes to the cooking time. Remove and rest the Wellington for 15 minutes somewhere warm. Slice and serve.
From ‘The Fabulous Baker Brothers’ by Henry Herbert & Tom Herbert, published by Headline, £25