A national hero for defeating Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, Arthur Wellesley was made the first Duke of Wellington. He loved a dish of beef, mushrooms, truffles, Madeira wine, and pâtécooked in pastry, which has been named in his honor.
HISTORY OF BEEF WELLINGTON The Duke of Wellington, who won the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, was quite indifferent to food, so much so that his cooks often gave notice, despairing of using their culinary talents in his household. In spite of this, his name has been given to a fillet of beef, wrapped in puff pasty, so called perhaps because in its larger version the finished product looks like a highly polished riding or Wellington boot.
Beef Wellington: This tenderloin of beef in puffed pastry was the favorite of the late President Richard Nixon and was originally created to honor the Duke of Wellington. The Duke is said to have requested that this beef dish be served at any dinner that he might be hosting. While his proud English chef dubbed the preparation, "Wellington Steak," his Gaelic counterpart across the Channel, still smarting from Napoleon's defeat, simply called the it, "Filet de Boeuf en Cro-te." Beef Wellington is a combination of seared filet of beef tenderloin done in either a large cut or in individual servings. The beef is seared, then topped with either Foie Gras‚ and/or Duxelles (a mince of mushrooms blended with additional flavoring ingredients), wrapped in puffed pastry and finished in the oven. As with Chateaubriand, the noble Wellington is accompanied by one or two sauces, usually from the list of Sauces Bearnaise, Colbert, Madeira, Perigourdine or Chateaubriand
Actually, Waterloo wasn't the battlefield; it was just the town from which Wellington sent the dispatch announcing his victory. Nevertheless, if you are a history buff you will enjoy a visit to the area. And if you've been working out on your StairMaster, you can try the 226 steps to the top of the Butte du Lion for a sweeping view.
In a frying pan over high heat add the first amount of butter and the filet mignon, season with salt and pepper. Brown on all sides, turning often for two minutes. Remove and cool immediately in the refrigerator. To the pan, over medium heat add the corn oil and shallots, cook one minute and add the mushrooms, thyme, salt and white pepper. Cook slowly for 10 minutes until most of the moisture has evaporated from the pan. Add the wine and continue to cook slowly until the mixture is fairly dry. Remove from the heat and add the bread crumbs and parsley. Stir in well and then cool completely.
Preheat and oven to 450 degrees C. Place the puff pastry dough on a lightly floured surface, in the center place 2 tablespoons of the mushroom mixture, then on top of that the filet mignon, then the rest of the mushroom mixture. Gather-up the edges of the dough tightly around the filet, pinching it all together at the center top. Trim away and excess dough as you gather it together. Butter the center of a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon butter. Pick up the dough encased filet and turn it over, placing it in the center of the baking sheet. Lightly press it down then brush it all over with the beaten egg. Before placing it in the oven cut a little hole in the top of the dough to let steam escape during cooking. Bake for 15 minutes for medium rare, (124) degrees C. in the center or increase the time to 20 minutes for med-well (13) degrees F. Serve as soon as possible, as it will continue to cook for a few more minutes after it has been taken out of the oven.
Serve with your favorite potatoes and vegetables. A simple sauce could be made during the preparation process by reducing 1 cup red wine with 2 cups of beef or veal stock to a syrup consistency and adding 1 tablespoon butter swirled in at the last minute.
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Last updated February 8, 2005