Individual Beef Wellingtons
The classic Beef Wellington is an extravaganza of beef tenderloin, paté, mushrooms and puff pastry. It can be daunting for the recreational chef to prepare—and challenging to slice and serve without the whole thing coming apart. Puff pastry, in particular, can be temperamental, whether homemade or commercial. That’s why we’ve gone with the more cooperative phyllo dough for these Individual Beef Wellingtons. They can be made in advance, baked when ready and served without disrupting the presentation from the first serving to the last.
½ cup canola oil for cooking
Six 6-ounce beef tenderloin steaks
Salt and pepper
1 pound shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
1 box phyllo dough (thawed out; move from freezer to refrigerator overnight).
½ cup clarified butter (see Tips)
25 leaves of fresh basil
The steaks and mushrooms may be prepared and kept in the refrigerator for up to a day ahead of time. Do not assemble in its entirety, though, more than six hours before baking.
Have your ingredients lined up assembly-line fashion when you’re ready to assemble.
To clarify butter: Melt the butter over medium heat, forcing the milk solids to separate from the fat. As the butter simmers over medium heat, the milk solids will begin to fry. Once the milk solids are visible as light brown particles, the butter is ready to be decanted.
To decant clarified butter: Remove the melted butter from the heat and allow the butter to rest so that the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pot. Simply pour the clarified butter into a strainer lined with cheesecloth to render clean clarified butter. Clarified butter may be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
Storing phyllo: Phyllo may be stored in its factory-sealed box in the freezer for up to two months and in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Once the seal is broken, phyllo is very perishable. After you’ve opened the box, placed unused phyllo into plastic wrap, cover tightly, and place in the freezer for up to a few weeks or in the refrigerator for up to a few days.
Thawing phyllo: To thaw, place factory-sealed phyllo in the refrigerator at least 12 hours before you intend to use it. If it thaws at room temperature, condensation will form within the package, rendering the leaves soggy and unusable.
1. Season the steaks well on both sides with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over a high flame, until the oil spits when you flick a drop of water into it.
3. Sear the seasoned steaks on all sides quickly, to a very dark brown, and immediately remove from the heat. Transfer the steaks to a tray and thoroughly chill the seared steaks in the freezer for 15 minutes. Then transfer to the refrigerator.
4. Trim the stems from the shiitake mushrooms and slice the caps in half on the bias.
5. Sauté the shiitakes in 2 tablespoons of butter with salt and pepper over medium heat until they are tender, about 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer the shiitakes to a sheet tray in a single layer and chill completely in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Then transfer to the refrigerator.
6. To assemble: Lay a full sheet of phyllo out on a clean, dry surface (preferably a large cutting board with no gouges). Cover the remaining sheets of phyllo with a damp kitchen towel. Using a clean, soft pastry brush, brush the entire sheet with clarified butter, then top with a second sheet.
7. Place the chilled, seared steak about 4 inches from one narrow end of the rectangle. Top the filet with about 4 pieces of cooked, chilled shiitake and several basil leaves.
8. Roll the stack of food burrito-style, meaning fold the sides in first, then roll, gluing all edges and exposed surfaces with clarified butter. Repeat for each steak.
9. Cover in plastic wrap on cookie or baking trays. Store in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Remove the plastic wrap and place the steaks on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown, at least 10 minutes.
Serving Tip: Slice the phyllo packet in half and present the two halves so that the filling is visible. Serve with fall vegetables such as sautéed carrots, Brussels sprouts and pearl onions.