Perfect for a Valentine dinner, the deconstructed beef Wellington is an easy take on the exquisite dish. No stress! No pastry! No searing! No foie gras! And it's as impressive as it is delicious.
Beef Wellington? Too much hassle
Beef Wellington might be a very nice dish but preparing it is far too stressful. The beef fillet needs to be seared, and then left to stand so that when it goes into the oven in its blanket of pastry, you have not a flying clue how cooked it already is.
Truffles? Foie gras? What if your diners are truffle objectors or goose rights activists? You’re stuffed, not the wellington. The next hurdle: the beef will cook quicker than the pastry, at least if you want it cooked medium rare and pink, by the book.
And so the outcome might be serving overdone beef in crispy pastry or underbaked, pale and limpid pastry parcels that half the guests will be furiously scraping the stuffing from, sending you resentful glances.
I must be painfully honest and admit I’ve not actually cooked a Wellington from scratch. But as I have explained above, I can visualise the process from the beginning to end, assess as not worth the bother and go to produce something else.
Like the roulade stuffed with wild mushroom duxelles.
Stuff the beef fillet! with mushrooms.
The first good thing about it is that we don’t bother with truffles or foie gras - the beef fillet costs a packet already. It is the alternative Wellington filling; mushroom duxelles, which is a fragrant, finely chopped or blitzed mushroom paste.
I choose to use dried porcini mushrooms which are of course second best to fresh ones, but second to none in the dried mushroom department. Rehydrated, they will almost fool you.
How to prepare porcini duxelles
It is a simple preparation. The dried mushrooms soak in boiling water and I keep them there until the liquid has cooled down enough for me to fish the 'shrooms out with my fingers. I drop them onto foaming butter and let them cook quite vigorously for a while, gradually adding back the soaking liquor to let the porcini absorb it back.
When it's all gone, a stick blender blitzes them chunkily or more smoothly, as you like, and handfuls of grated Parmesan and parsley amplify the already significant umami factor.
How to butterfly beef fillet
The butterflying and filling the fillet is more straightforward than it sounds, the video below may help. If you get a good middle cut of fillet, all you do is open it up like a book with a sharp knife, spread with the stuffing and roll it up again. Roasting time, as ever for beef, is 20 minutes per pound in low-ish oven.
And it’s so delicious, flavoursome and fragrant with the mushrooms you won’t be missing that limp or burnt puff pastry for one second.