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Open Beef Wellington


With Valentine’s Day approaching I thought of a special recipe. Something two people could share and celebrate the occasion with style. At first I thought a chocolate dessert or maybe something red. I’m not into heart shapes but a course of dinner in a romantic setting with candlelight and a glass of wine might be good. I created a special dish usually difficult to prepare but accomplished with relative ease.

While listening to Market Place on NPR there was a story about fine restaurants and the resurgence of a classic dish popular during the past mid century. It was Beef Wellington. The surprising fact, it is very popular in Japan. Apparently, there are restaurants that can hardly keep up with demand for this preparation, even at $250 a plate!

The unproven story of Beef Wellington had origins in Britain around two hundred years ago and was the favorite dish of Arthur Wellesley the 1st Duke of Wellington. However meats baked in pastry is a well established part of English cuisine. The method is similar to preparations in France where animal proteins are baked “en croute.” Certainly these dishes were and are delicious. In the days before modern refrigeration these preparations helped extend the shelf life of foods.

I have made Beef Wellington in its traditional form many times in several restaurant kitchens. In that environment, it is not difficult to prepare. There are many variations on the theme, some made with fish and poultry. I wanted to break the recipe into its component parts and create the essential elements and flavors without the hassle. It is not Beef Wellington but has similar ingredients, less time commitment and less technique.

Traditionally, Beef Wellington is seared beef tenderloin with mushroom duxelles, chopped mushrooms with shallots and seasonings, Parma ham, Dijon mustard and possibly some type of pate, all wrapped in a puff pastry. Then baked and served with a rich sauce like Bordelaise. Most modern recipes omit the pate. My adaptation is a beef filet stacked with a portobello mushroom cap and prosciutto on a round of puff pastry with a savory sauce heavy with mustard, brandy and green peppercorns, between a Bordelaise and a Diane sauce. It is not wrapped in pastry but stacked on it. Hence it is open.



  • 2 x 6 ounce filets of beef tenderloin

  • 2 x 4 to 5 inch rounds of store bought puff pastry (no need to make your own, though in a pinch you could substitute a good flakey pie dough)

  • 4 thin slices of prosciutto

  • 2 large portobello mushroom caps

  • Ghee, butter or olive oil to cook the steaks and mushrooms

  • Quick steak sauce (recipe to follow)

Thaw the pastry according to package directions

Cut 2 rounds of the pastry about 4 to 5 inches in diameter and prick 3 or 4 times with the tines of a fork and brush the top with an egg wash made by whisking 1 tablespoon of water together with an egg yolk

Bake in a preheated 400F degree oven for about 12 minutes until puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside

Remove any debris from the mushroom caps and brush them with melted butter or olive oil and set on a small sheet pan, season with salt and pepper and roast in a preheated 400F degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes until just cooked. Do not over cook or they will shrink too much and toughen. Remove from the oven and keep warm

Season the filets generously with black pepper and coarse salt. You may want to flatten the filets slightly if they are very tall. This will facilitate cooking them, and they will be less likely to fall over once on the plate

Cook the filets in a preheated cast iron skillet over medium high heat to desired doneness and set aside to rest for a few minutes while you assemble the plates


  • 1 tablespoon butter or ghee

  • 1 shallot, chopped

  • 1 1/2 cups strong beef stock

  • 2 tablespoons brandy

  • 1 tablespoon green peppercorns, drained

  • 2 tablespoons grain mustard

  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

  • A sprig or 2 of fresh thyme or a 1/4 teaspoon of dried

  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter

  • ½ to 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water (if using)

  • Salt to taste

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and cook the shallots until just beginning to color

Deglaze with the brandy being careful not to get in the way of the flames if it ignites

Add the stock, the thyme and the green peppercorns and bring to a boil and reduce by one half. Remove the fresh thyme if using

Whisk in the grain mustard, heavy cream and butter. Bring back to a simmer and if a slightly thicker sauce is desired, whisk in the cornstarch slurry at this time and simmer for 2 minutes more. Set the sauce aside and keep warm

To Serve:
Place a pastry round on each of 2 plates

Cover each pastry round with prosciutto and then with a mushroom cap

Top the mushroom with the cooked beef filet and then ladle some sauce on the filet and around the plate

Light the candles and serve to your beloved!

A very nice plate for a special occasion and can be made for more than two easily. A thin slice of pate adds complexity and tradition to the dish. For a budget friendly and casual dinner, I suggest substituting a nice ground beef patty in place of the filet mignon and call it burger deluxe! It will have all of the flavor profile of the steak, without the cost.