Written by Matt Astorga, @the_mattinthehat
This is sure to be a holiday season to remember, which means the food you’re cooking up should be a spread to remember, too.
When I think of the holidays, I think of the ultimate comfort foods, and nothing quite hits the spot like Canadian beef (can you tell I’m from Alberta?).
I mean, can anyone resist a perfectly cooked steak? What about mom’s Sunday pot roast or the best grill ’em up burgers? Beef is a Canadian go-to comfort food all year round.
The holidays are sure to look different this year, so if you’re looking to make something other than your usual turkey or ham, Beef Wellington is the answer.
I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t Beef Wellington the kind of dish they attempt on those competition shows, where the contestants usually cry and then end up going home?
Well, yes, but I’ll let you in on a TV secret. Although impressive and extravagant, Beef Wellington is actually super easy to make. Once you’ve learned the basics, this recipe will likely become not only the hero of your holiday menu, but also a foolproof go-to to impress at any time of year.
We have just the recipe for the job, as well as some chef’s notes so that you can make this beauty at home.
Let’s start with the ingredients — a telltale sign that this is an easy recipe after all. What makes Beef Wellington intimidating for most is that it’s wrapped in puff pastry. However, you can buy puff pastry at just about any grocery store (in sheets that require no rolling), so it’s easy to check off your list. A good rule of thumb is to get more puff pastry than you think you need, just in case you end up needing extra to seal your Beef Wellington.
Puff pastry usually comes frozen, so I highly suggest you keep this baby in the fridge to thaw. There is a lot of butter in puff pastry, and letting that butter come up to temperature at a slower rate will aid in a more even cook on your crust.
Next, I recommend you stick to beef tenderloin for this recipe, rather than substitute another cut. Since the tenderloin is, well, tender, it’s the perfect accompaniment to puff pastry and will result in a soft and flavourful finished product. Buy the centre cut portion (aka, chateaubriand) as it’s the most even shape and will cook the most evenly for Beef Wellington perfection.
That’s the perfect segue to what we need to talk about next: the cook. Tenderloin is at its best when med-rare to rare because of the lack of fat on this particular cut. Without that added marbling of fat, nailing that cook time is everything — and once again, it’s easier than you’d think.
Pro tip to seal in flavour: the pan you use should be heavy-set, preferably cast iron. Colour equals flavour, and you can only get that kind of flavour with a sear on the tenderloin. So, start off with a heavy pan and preheat over low heat well before you’re ready to sear. That heavy pan is going to hold onto that heat, and we’ll need that to lock in the flavour.
The next cooking tip is to make sure your meat is at the right temperature and patted very dry. Paper towel is your best friend. Before searing any meat coming from a fridge, give it 20 minutes to sit at room temperature. This will help create a nice, even layer of colour around the beef.
This holiday season, we’re all thinking of ways to get more done in the kitchen, just like a chef would. Us chefs love our gadgets, and we get more time in the kitchen if we use the right tools. If you have a food processor, you’ll save a ton of time (and tears) by using it to make your mushroom duxelle (aka mushroom, shallot, and green onion mixture). Just give your mushrooms, green onions, and shallots a quick blitz in a food processor. You’ll thank us later.
Don’t be shy with the flour when you’re rolling out the puff pastry. There’s so much butter in puff pastry — that’s why we love it — but if that butter starts to warm up, it becomes sticky and hard to work with. If your kitchen is hot or if you have hot hands, I suggest you move quickly! Canada Beef’s recipe on Beef Wellington does a great job of explaining how to roll out the pastry.
After 35 minutes in the oven (or when your meat thermometer reads 145°F/63°C) the pastry should be golden brown and crisp. The key to nailing this recipe and getting that wow factor we’re after is the beef. We’re looking for those perfectly pink medium-rare centres. You can get those results by using a high-quality meat thermometer, another favourite kitchen gadget for us chefs.
If you’re looking to finish this year off with a Canadian comfort staple — and one that’s perfect for smaller-than-usual groups — look no further. This show-stopping Beef Wellington recipe using Canadian beef is sure to please you, your family, your virtual parties, and whomever else you need to impress over the holidays.
For the full recipe, ingredient list, and a step-by-step video on how to perfect your Beef Wellington, visit CanadaBeef.ca.