Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Beef wellington with braised shin fondant potato, bone marrow, anchovy kale and mushrooms

Every August sees the birthday of Katie’s sister, Lois, and the chance for me to cook up a storm. For the past three years all she has wanted as a present is a home cooked meal, which is absolutely fine by me. The four of us all get on really well, and it’s lovely to be able to play host, open a few bottles of wine and create a proper celebration meal. 


Normally on these kind of occasions I would spend weeks thinking up the right thing to cook, but this time I was told straight way what was to be expected; a beef wellington. I made this for Lois on the first year that we celebrated her birthday, and it has kept popping up in food conversations ever since. Despite being a bit of a retro classic and not served in restaurants much these days, a well-cooked wellington is perfect for a special occasion. Surely there’s nothing better than a luxuriously tender piece of meat surrounded by mushrooms and a case of melt in the mouth pastry!

Although I hadn’t made it for a couple of years, I was confident in pulling it off. Once you get the hang of constructing and cooking a wellington it’s pretty easy. For this occasion I wanted to make tweaks to the dish to elevate it to a higher level. To achieve this I made my own rough puff pastry for the wellington itself, and really made an effort with all of the items that would accompany it on the plate. This made the making process very time consuming, but seeing it all together on the plate really made it worthwhile. 


Instead of just serving the fillet of beef as the meat element, I wanted to incorporate a few less used cuts into the dish. I really enjoy doing this with my cooking, be it serving a braised leg of poultry with a pan-fried breast to a smoked pate with a grilled piece of fish. It makes the meal as a whole more interesting and introduces a wider range of flavour. For this recipe I slowly cooked the shin cut to stuff into the buttery fondant potatoes, and also the bone marrow, which I quickly fried as a garnish and also melted into the sauce. Ok I admit, I really wasn’t keen on bone marrow when I first tried it at Hawksmoor earlier in the year. But I have since persevered and eaten it a few more times and developed a taste for it. The melting texture and rich beefy taste is a wonderful thing, and I cannot wait to try cooking with it again. It is also a very cheap cut, appearing more and more commonly in good butchers.

For this meal I didn’t have a chance to visit said good local butcher, so once again ordered from the East London Steak Co. I normally like to see my meat before I buy it, but I was dead impressed with the service and quality of my delivery. The price was also a fair bit less, and I saved over a tenner on my piece of fillet steak alone. What I also like about the ELSC is the little card that comes with your order, informing you of the breed, farm, slaughter date and who was handled it along the way. Little details like this are the way forward, and I would thoroughly recommend their service. 

A lot of the items in this recipe can be substituted to make the whole process much quicker. Once you have mastered the wellington it can be served with so many different things, from creamy mash to dauphanoise potatoes. But this was certainly a celebration and the time spent making everything was a pleasure.

Serves 4


For the rough puff pastry:

500g plain flour
250g butter, cold, cut into cubes
200g lard, cold, cut into cubes
1 tbsp English mustard powder
1 tsp baking powder
300ml milk
1 egg, beaten

For the mushrooms duxelle:

8 large portobello mushrooms, very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 shallot, very finely chopped
2 tbsp parsley leaves, very finely chopped
¼ lemon, juice only
Olive oil
50g butter
Salt and pepper

For the rest of the wellington:

800g centre-cut piece of beef fillet, trimmed of any sinew
2 tbsp thyme leaves, finely chopped
10 slices Parma ham
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the braised shin fondant potato:

2 bone-in shin steaks
6 pieces of marrowbone, cut into 1 ½” rounds
½ bottle red wine
2 onions, sliced
2 carrots, roughly sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
2 litres good beef stock
10 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 star anise
Olive oil

4 large maris piper potatoes
1 tbsp thyme leaves, finely chopped
5 sprigs thyme, left whole
50g butter
200g goose fat
500ml good beef stock
3 garlic cloves, crushed

For the sauce:

The strained leftover stock from the braised shins
30g butter
Salt and pepper

For the pan fried bone marrow:

4 1 ½” bone marrow cylinders, soaked and pushed out of the bone
50g flour
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
20g butter
Olive oil

For the kale:

6 large kale leaves, tough stalks removed and roughly cut
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
2 anchovy fillets, very finely chopped
30g butter
Salt and pepper

For the mushrooms:

16 pied bleu mushrooms, trimmed and brushed
16 girolle mushrooms, trimmed and brushed
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
¼ lemon, juice only
30g butter
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

First braise the beef shins. Bring a large heavy saucepan to a high heat. Season the shin steaks well and rub with a little olive oil. Sear well on all sides until well browned then remove to a side plate. Add a little more oil to the pan then the onions, celery, garlic and carrots, stirring well and colouring. Pour in the wine and bring to the boil. Add the marrow bones, seared shin steaks, thyme, bay and star anise, then top up with the stock. Heat back up to the boil and then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 4-5 hours, until the meat falls apart. Allow to cool. 

Remove the shin steaks from the stock and shred really well. Season and mix with the chopped thyme leaves. Set aside until needed later. Strain the stock and reserve for making the sauce later.

Next make the rough puff pastry. Put the flour, butter, lard, baking powder, mustard powder and milk into a mixing bowl and combine lightly: the chunks of fat should be running through the mixture whole. Tip out onto a well floured surface and roll out into a rectangle of about 1cm thickness. This will be tricky the first time, and the mixture will look all wrong but it will get better each roll. Fold the pastry into thirds to form a long rectangle, then into half. Wrap with cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Repeat this process twice more, then the pastry will be ready for the final roll later. Chill until needed. 

To make the mushroom duxelle, set a large frying pan or skillet to a medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil and the butter. When hot cook the shallot and garlic for a couple of minutes until tender. Add the mushrooms and seasoning, and cook for about 15 minutes, until all moisture has been evaporated. Remove from the heat, stir through the parsley and taste for seasoning. Allow to cool fully.

Take the fillet of beef out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes and allow to come to room temperature. Heat a large heavy frying pan until smoking hot. Season the outside of the meat really well with salt, pepper and the thyme leaves, and rub all over with a little olive oil. Sear the fillet in the hot pan for about a minute each side to seal the meat and caramelise a little. Remove and allow to cool.

Lay down 2 large strips of cling film side by side on a chopping board and arrange the Parma ham into an overlapping rectangle that is 2 strips deep and 5 wide. Spread a thin layer of the mushroom duxelle on top, leaving a lip of about 2cm around the edges. Position the cooled fillet in the middle, then very carefully wrap the Parma ham around, using the cling film to make it as tight as possible. Wrap tightly with more cling film and chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. 


Roll your finished pastry into a rectangle that is 2-3 inches longer than the fillet at each end, and wide enough to fold right around. It should be about 1cm thick. Beat an egg in a small bowl and brush a little all over the surface. Place the wrapped fillet on top and very carefully fold the pastry around, sealing tightly at the side and ends. Trim away any excess pastry, and roll the wellington so that the join is on the bottom. Place on a lined baking tray and chill until needed.

Pour the strained stock into a large, shallow saucepan and bring to the boil. Keep reducing until only about 300-400ml is left, and the sauce has thickened and intensified in flavour. Transfer to a smaller saucepan and set aside for finishing later.

Next make the stuffed fondant potatoes. Cut the top and bottom off the potatoes and use a cutter to create a neat cylinder shape about 2” in height. Cut a 1cm lid off the top, then use a mellon baller to scoop out the centres. Stuff with a good amount of the braised, shredded shin mixture. Heat a frying pan to a high heat with a little olive oil and quickly fry the top of the lids for a couple of minutes until golden brown. Remove and place on top of the stuffed fondants. Place in a deep, lined baking dish with the whole thyme sprigs, the butter and the garlic. 


Heat the oven to 200ÂșC.

Put the goose fat and beef stock into a small saucepan and heat up until just boiling. Pour the fat around the potatoes until half way up then put in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the potato is cooked through.

Brush the outside of the beef wellington with more beaten egg and put in the oven at this point too, cooking for 30 minutes for rare (as in photo). Cook for 5 or so minutes longer for better done. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

When the wellington comes out of the oven, finish off all of the accompaniments. Try and cook them all at the same time so that they are all hot when serving.

For the kale, heat up a large frying pan to a medium temperature and melt the butter with the chopped anchovy and garlic. Sweat for a minute then add the kale and 100ml of water and cook for another couple of minutes until wilted. Keep warm until ready to serve. 


To cook the mushrooms, heat a frying pan to medium/hot and add 1 tbsp of oil and the butter. When melted add the pied bleu mushrooms, then the girolles a minute later. Season well and fry for another couple of minutes until just cooked.

Heat up the sauce and stir through the butter until melted and emulsified. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Lastly cook the bone marrow. Heat up a small frying pan to medium/hot. Tip the flour onto a plate and mix in some seasoning. Roll the marrow pieces in the flour to coat, shake off the excess and fry for a couple of minutes until crispy on the outside. Be careful not to cook them for too long or they will melt!

To plate up, cut thick pieces of the Wellington and arrange one carefully on each plate. Add the cooked fondant potatoes and a serving of kale. Place a piece of the bone marrow on top of the kale and scatter around the mushrooms. Finally spoon over some of the sauce and serve.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That's really great information guys.I know lot of new things here. Really great contribution.Thank you ...

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