Looking to wow your guests the next time you host a dinner party? Nothing quite says you're a boss in the kitchen like beef Wellington, a cut of beef tenderloin surrounded by mushroom duxelles and wrapped in golden pastry. Here to share his take on a recipe for the classic dish is chef de cuisine Matthew Cockrell of MICHELIN Plated Mintwood Place in Washington D.C., where hearty Southern-style cooking meets French finesse. This glorious entree can be served with a number of sides, but a chestnut compote with lardons and pearl onions is the chef's personal favourite.
Beef Wellington with Truffle Madeira SauceRecipe courtesy of Matthew Cockrell, Mintwood Place
One whole beef tenderloin, trimmed
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Dijon mustard, for brushing
Mushroom duxelles (recipe below)
2 large eggs
Brioche dough (recipe below)
Butter, for greasing
Truffle Madeira sauce (recipe below)
Fresh truffles, for serving
1. Tie the beef tenderloin with butcher's twine to shape it into an even cylinder. Season the meat liberally with salt and pepper. Get a cast iron pan as hot as you can possibly get it, and sear the tenderloin all over. ("The idea here is to sear it blue. You want the nice caramelization but not cooked at all beyond that otherwise you’ll end up with an overcooked Wellington," Cockrell says. "Think of it as an octagon, searing eight sides and then stand it up and sear the ends.")
2. Liberally brush Dijon mustard all over the seared tenderloin and then cover with the mushroom duxelles mixture, ensuring no beef is exposed.
3. Whisk the eggs with a splash of water to create an egg wash. Lay out the brioche dough, stretching it large enough to encase the beef tenderloin. Brush the egg wash where you will seal the dough, which should be on the bottom of the Wellington; press the dough closed with a fork to seal it. Trim excess dough and use it to decorate the Wellington with various shapes, such as flowers, vines or lattice work. Cut a little hole in the top of the Wellington for steam to escape as it’s cooking. Brush the finished Wellington with egg wash and refrigerate until ready to cook.
4. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a sheet tray with parchment and rub with some butter and top with Wellington. Bake, rotating in the oven once during cooking, until the pastry is golden and the beef is rare to medium-rare, 40 to 60 minutes. Let rest for 5 to 7 minutes before slicing. Sauce with the truffle Madeira sauce and sliced fresh truffles on top.
⅓ cup warm whole milk, not to exceed 100°F
36 grams granulated sugar
9 grams active dry yeast
406 grams all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for sprinkling
5 large eggs, at room temperature
3 grams kosher salt
227 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine warm milk, sugar and yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes. Add eggs and 188 grams flour, and beat at medium-low speed until smooth. Remove paddle and cover; let stand for 30 to 45 minutes. At the end of this initial fermentation process, there should be small bubbles forming around the edges of the mixture.
2. Replace paddle attachment with the dough hook. Add salt and remaining 218 grams flour. Knead at medium speed until dough pulls away from sides of the bowl and is smooth and elastic.
3. With mixer running at medium speed, add butter, 14 grams at a time, letting each piece incorporate before adding the next. Spray a large bowl with baking spray with sprinkle with some flour. Place dough in bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F) until doubled in size, 1½ to 2½ hours.
4. On a lightly floured surface, turn out dough and fold a few times to knock out a bit of air. Return dough to greased bowl; cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
3 pounds cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
250 grams unsalted butter
100 grams shallots, finely chopped
50 grams garlic, finely minced
2 ounces dry Sherry
1 ounce parsley, finely chopped
1 ounce fresh thyme, finely chopped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1. Toss mushrooms into a food processor and chop finely. ("Keep chopping until they can’t get any smaller, this is the first important step. The more you chop the better your end product will be.")
2. Melt butter in a rondeau over medium-low heat. Add shallot and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add mushrooms and cook until most of the moisture has released and mushrooms are almost dry. ("Second important step—this will take longer than you think. Mushrooms have a lot of water and they will expel the liquid as you cook. It will be real ‘soupy’ to start. The liquid will slowly reduce as it evaporates. Stir continuously. The drier your duxelles mixture the better your end result will be.")
3. Stir in Sherry and cook until liquid is about gone (au sec). Add herbs, season with salt and pepper and stir until combined. Set aside to cool. ("There should be no liquid in the mixture.")
Truffle Madeira Sauce
28 grams unsalted butter
100 grams chopped shallots
1 cup Madeira
½ cup Sherry
2 cups demi-glace
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large black truffle, shaved with a vegetable peeler or truffle slicer, or ¼ cup truffle peelings, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Cognac
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the shallots. Cook gently over low heat until the shallots are soft but not brown.
2. Add the Madeira and Sherry, bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to au sec (almost dry) to concentrate the flavor. Add in the demi-glace, return the mixture to a boil and reduce to sauce consistency. Strain through a chinois.
3. Just before serving, add the chopped truffles and Cognac. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover tightly to prevent the aroma from evaporating and serve as soon as possible.
Photo by Scott Suchman.