Beef in Pastry

This dish is also known as Beef Wellington, and I like to think it was created for the Duke of Wellington after his success at Waterloo. This receipt seems very complicated, I know, but well worth it and you can always buy frozen pastry instead of making it. The pastry case is prepared in two parts: a shortcrust bottom to hold the beef, which avoids the sogginess imparted to flaky pastry by juices from the meat and mushrooms, and a flaky pastry top.


  • 1 fillet of beef, trimmed and tied, about 30cm/12in long
  • 900g/2lb mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 5 shallots, finely sliced
  • 55g/2oz butter
  • 120ml/4fl oz Madeira, port or medium sherry
  • 115g/4oz (4 tablespoons) pâté de foie gras

For The Marinade

  • 4 tbsp light olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 sticks celery, sliced
  • pinch of thyme and sage
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cloves
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250ml/8fl oz dry white vermouth
  • 4 tbsp brandy

For the Pastry

  • 425g/15oz plain flour
  • 200g/7oz butter, chilled
  • 55g/2oz Cookeen
  • 2tsp salt
  • 175g/6fl oz water, chilled
  • 85g/3oz butter, softened
  • 1 egg, for glazing

For the Sauce

  • 2 tsp mushroom ketchup
  • 475ml/16fl oz beef stock
  • 1tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 85ml/3fl oz Madeira, port or sherry
  • salt and freshly ground pepper


To prepare the marinade, heat the oil in a saucepan, add all the vegetables, herbs and spices, cover and cook gently until tender. Place the fillet in a long non-metallic dish or casserole, sprinkle with the salt, cover with the vegetable mixture, and pour on the vermouth and brandy. Cover and leave in a cool place or a refrigerator for 24 hours, turning and basting every few hours.

Meanwhile blend the pastry ingredients (except the softened butter) together and chill for 2 hours before using. Butter the outside of a 30x6cm/12x 3in loaf tin. Roll three fifths of the pastry into a rectangle of 41x18cm/16x7in, lay it over the upside-down tin and press into place. Trim so that the pastry forms a case of 3cm/in deep. Prick all over with a fork and chill for 30 minutes. Bake in the middle of a preheated oven at 220°C/425°F/Gas 7 until light brown, about 12–15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes on the tin, then carefully unmould.

Scrape the marinade off the meat, reserve it for the sauce, and dry with kitchen paper. Rub the meat with oil and put in a roasting pan, cover with oiled foil and place in a preheated oven at 220°C/425°F/Gas 7. Roast for 25 minutes, turning and basting halfway through the cooking time. Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes.

Sauté the mushrooms and shallots in the butter for about 8 minutes, add the Madeira and boil rapidly until all the liquid has evaporated. Stir in 4 tablespoons of pâté, mix well, turn into a bowl and cover until needed.

Roll the remaining pastry into a 41×18cm/16×7in rectangle. Over the bottom spread half the softened butter, fold in half to enclose butter. Repeat with the remaining butter and fold again. Roll into a rectangle, then fold in thirds like a business letter. Chill for 2 hours, then roll into another rectangle of 41×25cm/16×10in.

Place the baked bottom case on a buttered baking sheet, spread half the sautéed mushroom mixture on the bottom of the case. Remove the string from the beef, place it on top of the mushrooms and cover with the rest. Beat the egg with half a teaspoon of water and paint the sides of the case, press together and trim if necessary. Paint with the egg glaze. Make cross-hatch marks over the pastry and three vent holes 7.5cm/3in apart. Insert in these tiny foil funnels for escaping steam. Bake in the middle of a preheated oven at 220°C/425°F/Gas 7, for 20 minutes then lower the heat to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5, for another 20 minutes before serving.

To make the sauce, simmer the marinade with the mushroom ketchup in the beef stock and tomato purée for 1 hour. When reduced to 475ml/16fl oz, strain, return to saucepan, and thicken with cornflour mixed with the Madeira, port or sherry. Simmer until shiny and thickened, season to taste.