Beef Wellington is a steak dish of English origin, made out of fillet steak coated with pâté (often pâté de foie gras) and duxelles, wrapped in puff pastry, then baked. Some recipes include wrapping the coated meat in a crêpe or parma ham to retain the moisture and prevent it from making the pastry soggy.
Puff pastry is one of the most difficult yet beloved pastries in the world. It has an amazing flaky, buttery texture that can make any dish better. For the Beef Wellington, the pastry is the most important part of the dish.
Traditionally, slices of beef Wellington are accompanied by madeira sauce. It is a wine sauce that is made from Madeira wine as the key ingredient. Although this sauce may consist only of Madeira wine and broth, there are also numerous variations that include other ingredients to enhance the flavors of the foods topped with the sauce.
Beef Wellington requires a dry and medium-bodied red wine such as a Bordeaux, Pinot Noir, Chianti, Malbec, or Syrah to stand up to the beef flavours while complementing the puff pastry, onion and mushroom flavours in this decadent dish.
Beef Wellington, like many other dishes, has a debatable origin story. Many different experts cite England, France, Ireland, and even Africa as the possible birthplace for the dish. Many agree that France is the most likely origin for the dish since wrapping meat in pastry is a technique that has been practiced in France for a long time, even before the dish became popular.
The origin of the name is unclear, with no definite connection to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.
However, some food historians agree that Beef Wellington was named for Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington. You have to feel sympathy for the eight Dukes of Wellington that have followed him, as no attention is paid to them at all. So spectacular was the first duke that he is, and probably always will be, the Duke of Wellington, with whom no successor can compete. In addition to giving us the Wellington boot, he defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, and later served two terms as prime minister. Certainly, he deserves a grand dish named in his honor.
The problem is that, as far as can be ascertained, the dish was unknown in the Duke’s lifetime, and may not even have been British – no English or French cookbooks of the Duke’s era contain a recipe.
The murky history of Beef Wellington has led to much speculation. Some suggest it was so named because its shape resembles a Wellington boot. Since meat served in pastry crust was common in France, it’s also been suggested that Beef Wellington is nothing more than French boeuf en croute, renamed to signify Napoleon’s defeat.
Leah Hyslop, writing in The Daily Telegraph, observed that by the time Wellington became famous, meat baked in pastry was a well-established part of English cuisine, and that the dish’s similarity to the French
filet de bœuf en croûte (fillet of beef in pastry) might imply that “Beef Wellington” was a “timely patriotic rebranding of a trendy continental dish”. However, she cautioned, there are no 19th-century recipes for the dish. There is a mention of “fillet of beef, a la Wellington” in the Los Angeles Times of 1903, and an 1899 reference in a menu from the Hamburg-America line. It may be related to ‘steig’ or steak Wellington, an Irish dish (the Duke was from an Anglo-Irish family), but the dates for this are unclear.
In the Polish classic cookbook, finished in 1909 and published for the first time in 1910, by Maria Ochorowicz-Monatowa (1866-1925), Uniwersalna książka kucharska (“The Universal Cooking Book”), there is a recipe for “Polędwica wołowa à la Wellington” (beef fillet à la Wellington). The recipe does not differ from the dish later known under this name. It is a beef filet enveloped together with duxelles in puff pastry, baked, and served with a truffle or Madeira sauce. The author, who mastered her cooking skills both in Paris and Vienna at the end of the 19th century, claimed that she had received this recipe from the cook of the imperial court in Vienna. She also included “filet à la Wellington” in the menus proposed for the “exquisite dinners”.
In Le Répertoire de la Cuisine a professional reference cookbook published by Théodore Gringoire and Louis Saulnier in 1914, there is mentioned a garnish “Wellington” to beef, described as: “Fillet browned in butter and in the oven, coated in poultry stuffing with dry duxelles added, placed in rolled-out puff pastry. Cooked in the oven. Garnished with peeled tomatoes, lettuce, Pommes château”.
An installment of a serialized story entitled “Custom Built” by Sidney Herschel Small in 1930 had two of its characters in a restaurant in Los Angeles that had “beef Wellington” on its menu. The first occurrence of the dish recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary is a quotation from a 1939 New York food guide with “Tenderloin of Beef Wellington” which is cooked, left to cool, and rolled in a pie crust.
This delicacy soared in popularity during the 1960s, when it became hugely popular in North America, even more so than in the United Kingdom, due to its luxurious, expensive ingredients and precise preparation methods.
Gordon Ramsay modernized the classic Beef Wellington recipe with his trusty cast iron skillet, which gives the beef fillet color, depth, and flavor. Dijon mustard which tenderizes, marinates, and gives a gentle kick to the filet mignon. He also adds layers of prosciutto, savory chive crepe, a mushroom mixture, and puff pastry.
A single serving of the famous Beef Wellington has 473 calories. It has 31.5g of carbs, 26.2g of fat, and 24.5g of protein.