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Dec 29, 2006 06:14 PM

Cooks Illustrated Beef Wellington ****

Made this for Christmas dinner and WOW! Definitely the best one I have ever made. The whole family was just about silent for the first ten minutes enjoying this meal. The sauce alone was just transcendent. I would really recommend this for any special occasion. My only issue with this dish is how to carve the dang thing and have it look remotely coherent. The pastry always seems to go one way and the meat another. I would also say that it really helps to follow their timeline and spread the work over three days.

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  1. You could make individual Wellingtons instead of one large one. That way each person gets to cut open their own pastry packet instead of you having to carve it to serve. Cut the tenderloin into individual filets and sear them on each side. Arrange each one flat on a 5 inch puff pastry circle, cover with the mushroom/foie gras mixture (or whatever CI denotes - I am not familiar with their recipe) cover with a second 5 inch pastry circle and pinch the sides to seal. Brush each packet with some egg beaten with a little milk and bake. A much cleaner presentation than making the whole thing at once but maybe not as impressive.

    5 Replies
    1. re: CDouglas

      That sounds like a good idea for next time. DO you find that the Puff pastry has time to brown sufficiently before the meat is past rare/ med-rare?

      1. re: mellycooks

        The recipe I follow recommends a 6 oz. filet. I usually go with 1/2 lb. (8 oz.) as it is easier to find/order this way. I sear the meat for five minutes total - 1 minute each for the flat horizontal surfaces and long sides and maybe 30 seconds each for the ends while holding it up with tongs. The assembled pastry goes into a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes and always comes out medium rare after a 5 minute rest before serving.

        That said, the pastry browns at this time/temp due to the egg/milk glaze. My wife (ex-pastry chef) reminded as I wrote this that the inner most portion of the typical store bought puff pastry that we use (most convenient, time saving and user friendly) is usually somewhat underdone. She suggested that the next time we make it the pastry should be rolled out slightly to reduce the thickness.

        1. re: CDouglas

          Sounds like a plan, with a VERY hot pan it might be possible to cut back on the searing time and allow the pastry longer to cook as well. I will definately report back on my next attempt. We're actually planning a New Years getaway with a different set of folks, would it be sooo bad to make this twice in two weeks? hmmmm

          1. re: mellycooks

            Cheers, I hope it works out well for you. Was the CI recipe from one of their magazines? I could not find it in their cookbooks.

            1. re: CDouglas

              It's from the November 2001 issue. Looks very tempting!