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Individual Beef Wellingtons with Mushroom, Spinach & Blue Cheese Filling

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Serves six.

Prepare the components of the Wellingtons the day before or the morning before you intend to assemble them. Once assembled, freeze them for at least six to eight hours (ideally overnight) and up to a week. Make sure you have plenty of room in your freezer before starting.

For the pastry:
  • 3 packages (1 lb. each) frozen puff pastry (6 sheets total), such as Pepperidge Farm brand
  • Flour for rolling
For the mushrooms:
  • 2 large portabella mushrooms, stems removed
  • 6 Tbs. olive oil; more for cooking
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, lightly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. very roughly chopped fresh rosemary
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the onions:
  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3 medium onions (about 6 oz. each), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup medium-dry sherry (I prefer Amontillado)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the spinach and cheese:
  • 12 cups tightly packed spinach (about 14 oz.)
  • Pinch ground white pepper (optional)
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 6 oz. Maytag blue cheese (or other good-quality blue, such as Roquefort)
For the filets:
  • 6 portions beef tenderloin, 5 to 6 oz. each (choose equal-size center-cut portions)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • About 3/4 cup olive oil; more as needed
For assembly:
  • 2 eggs, whisked together lightly with 1 tsp. water
  • Flour
To cook the Wellingtons:
  • 2 eggs, whisked together lightly with 1 tsp. water
Prepare the pastry and fillings:

Roll and cut the pastry—Roll out each of the six pastry sheets to about 3/16-inch thick and, using a sharp knife, cut out a 10-inch round from each. From the scraps, cut out 12 leaves or other shapes to use as decoration. Layer the pastry rounds (and the decorations) between pieces of waxed paper or parchment, wrap the bundle well in plastic, and freeze again.

Individual Beef Wellingtons with Mushroom, Spinach & Blue Cheese Filling Recipe

Cook the mushrooms—In a shallow bowl, toss the portabellas with the oil, garlic, thyme, and rosemary; cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Remove the portabellas from the marinade (they will have soaked up most of it) and season with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add a thin film of oil, and sear the portabellas on both sides until they've softened and browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer them to paper towels and turn them once to drain both sides. When cool, cut them in half and cut the halves into strips about 1/2 inch thick.

Caramelize the onions—Melt the butter in a heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until well browned, soft, and sweet, 30 to 40 minutes. Add the sherry and cook until the pan is dry. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool. Put the cooled onions in a colander set in a bowl; cover and refrigerate.

Prepare the spinach and cheese—Wash the spinach well and remove any stems. Prepare an ice-water bath. Put half of the spinach in a large sauté pan with a touch of water, 1 Tbs. of the butter, a pinch of salt, and a little ground white pepper if you like. Toss over medium-high heat, just until wilted and immediately put it in the water bath to shock the color and stop the cooking. Scoop it from the ice water and put it in a colander to drain. Squeeze the spinach, a small handful at a time, as much as you can and set it aside on paper towels to continue draining. Repeat with the remaining spinach. Cover with plastic and refrigerate. Divide the blue cheese into six 1-oz. portions. Try slicing the whole piece into six slices; if it crumbles, just evenly divide the cheese. Cover and refrigerate.

Individual Beef Wellingtons with Mushroom, Spinach & Blue Cheese Filling Recipe
Squeeze and squeeze again—until the spinach for your filling is as dry as it can be.

Sear the filets—Season each portion of meat very generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Rub the seasoning into the meat to keep it in place. Pour 1/8 inch olive oil into a heavy sauté pan and heat it until just smoking. Sear the filets over high heat for 2 minutes on each side until brown and crisp on the outside. Be sure your pan is very hot so that you just sear the meat and don't overcook it, and don't crowd the pan or the meat will steam rather than sear. (Check the sides to be sure the filets are still red in the middle.) Work in batches if necessary. Refrigerate the meat until chilled or until ready to use, up to 24 hours.

Individual Beef Wellingtons with Mushroom, Spinach & Blue Cheese Filling Recipe
Sear the beef filets for a nice crust but a still-red center—once wrapped in pastry and baked, they'll cook to medium rare.
Assemble the Wellingtons:

Arrange the mushrooms, onions, spinach, cheese, and filets on your counter. Divide the portabella strips into six portions. Make sure the caramelized onions are well drained (they tend to collect liquid as they sit) and divide them into six portions. Squeeze the spinach again, divide it into six portions, and leave it on paper towels for any further draining. Cover a large rimmed baking sheet (that fits in your freezer) with kitchen parchment. Have a ruler, a small sharp knife, a pastry brush, and the egg wash on hand. Lightly flour one area of your counter (the cooler the area the better).

Pull a pastry round (and two decorative pieces) from the freezer and set it on the floured surface. Work quickly to maintain the integrity of the pastry. Lightly score a 4x3-inch rectangle in the center of the round; don't cut through the pastry. Extend the lines of the rectangle and cut out the corners of the round created by the line extensions, leaving a cross of pastry with a 4x3-inch center.

Individual Beef Wellingtons with Mushroom, Spinach & Blue Cheese Filling Recipe
Cut a cross shape out of the pastry round. Save the scraps to cut out decorations.

Give a spinach portion one last squeeze and spread half of it over the rectangle of pastry. Follow with a portion of blue cheese, a portion of onions, a filet, a portion of portabellas in one layer, and the rest of the spinach portion. Spread each layer as evenly as possible. Brush a light coating of the egg wash on each of the four panels of dough.

Individual Beef Wellingtons with Mushroom, Spinach & Blue Cheese Filling Recipe
Layer spinach, blue cheese, onions, a filet, mushrooms, and more spinach in the center of the pastry.

Check to be sure that the pastry is now pliable enough to fold without breaking (wait a minute or two if necessary). Fold each side panel onto the top, stretching the dough a bit if necessary to make the ends meet, or slightly overlapping if necessary. Follow suit with the top and bottom panels. Seal the panels together by pressing in the top panel where it meets the bottom panel and by pinching each of the four sides together where the panels meet. Don't worry if the package doesn't look gorgeous; it's more important that it's well sealed so the juices don't leak out.

Individual Beef Wellingtons with Mushroom, Spinach & Blue Cheese Filling Recipe
Fold up the longer sides first and then the ends.

Hold the package upright in your hands, securing all the seals and smoothing the rough spots to make the package into a neat, rounded block. Set it seam side down and gently press the top and sides to make them as even all the way around as possible. Brush the top and all sides with egg wash. Put the decorations on top and brush with egg wash. (You'll be cutting the package in half, so separate the decorations.) Set the Wellington on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Put the pan in the freezer to set and chill the pastry. Repeat with the 5 remaining Wellingtons, adding each to the pan in the freezer as you go. After they chill for an hour, wrap them well in plastic individually and return them to the freezer.

Individual Beef Wellingtons with Mushroom, Spinach & Blue Cheese Filling Recipe
Cook the Wellingtons:

Heat the oven to 400°F. Make another egg wash. Remove the Wellingtons from the freezer (do not thaw) and brush them with a fresh coat of egg wash. Put them on a lightly greased rimmed heavy baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and cook until the internal temperature is 110°F (be sure the tip of the thermometer is inserted in the center of the package), another 35 to 40 minutes. Set them aside to rest for no longer than 10 minutes. The tightly enclosed beef will continue to cook out of the oven, so if you have to wait for more than 10 minutes, trim the sides of the pastry to let out some of the hot steam and reduce the internal temperature. Cut each Wellington in half, arrange on warm plates, and serve immediately.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 1070; Fat (g): 82; Fat Calories (kcal): 730; Saturated Fat (g): 27; Protein (g): 48; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 42; Carbohydrates (g): 35; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 7; Sodium (mg): 1080; Cholesterol (mg): 285; Fiber (g): 4;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I've made this dish a number of times for Christmas. Not only is it phenomenal tasting, but with almost all the work done ahead of time, it makes Christmas dinner very low stress. Absolutely one of the finest recipes!

This is as good as it gets, if you want to impress your guests! It's amazing, delicious, impressive, etc. etc. Make them a week or two ahead and freeze them, because they are time consuming. But well worth it!!

Although time consuming, this recipe has worked beautifully every time that I have made it. Follow the instructions but use your common sense when searing the meat. We all have different stoves, equipment, ovens, etc. Use your hands to squeeze out the spinach and then press on paper towels - this will get it very dry. I used goat cheese for my guests who do not like blue cheese and it was a great substitute.

I've had this recipe tucked in the back of my head since it was first published. Finally made it for New Years Eve dinner party. A lot of work but an awesome result, and being able to prepare it well in advance made it simple to ready. Paired with roasted fingerling potatoes w/rosemary and some roasted brussel sprouts, each serving was too large for most to finish despite the fact that my filets were only about 5 ounces each (I was worried since all the guests are big eaters). I'd prepare these again and again, experimenting with different fillings. The concept is great.

I saved this recipe for 11 years till I finally had an audience at Christmas who would appreciate it. Results were mixed. I am a skilled cook with a near-professional kitchen and followed the recipe exactly. We still ended up with over-done beef and pastry that was soggy on the bottom. The flavors were great, but it was disappointing to have overcooked tenderloin. Still, I will do it again and hopefully get it right. Here are some things I learned: top and bottom filling layers insulate the beef a bit. Don't skimp on one. When searing the beef make sure your cast-iron skillet is blazingly hot and just barely filmed with oil. Bring the pan back up to temperature before searing each batch of meat. You will avoid precooking the beef this way. Chill the cooked tenderloins as quickly as possible, preferably in the freezer. Put the frozen wellingtons on a small piece of foil set on a rack over your cookie sheet. This way the crust can crisp and set. Juices from the wellingtons will make the bottom soggy even if you preheat the pan. The real gift in this recipe is that you can make it a week or more in advance and have something that is delicious. I will try again to solve the problems I ran into on my first attempt.

I followed the recipe EXACTLY - to a 'T'...from ingredients, all timing, all temperatures etc., however the tenderloin was overcooked to the point of being well-done!! How so very disappointing when so much time and effort was placed into this dish. My oven temperature is not askew, and my cooking skill levels are very experienced, so I am perlexed as to how these were so completley off the mark in terms of doneness given the time/temperatures of the recipe. The reviews were great - the recipe 'read' great - but the final result was a thumbs down. Too bad, I really was looking forward to this being a 'showstopper' as other reviewers have mentioned.

THis is an incredibly easy recipe for the **WOW** factor you'll receive! I have made these four times, but now I "puddle" a reduction on the plate and put the Wellie on top of the reduction for even MORE wow. Your guests will believe that this is the juice from the lil Wellie! Very clever and even more delish. So to start: KEEP YOUR SEARING PAN SET ASIDE--don't wash yet. In a separate saucepan combine: 2 cups ruby port or other sweet red wine, 1 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium beef broth, 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 2 sprigs fresh parsley, 1 sprig fresh thyme. Bring to a boil. Cook for about 15 minutes until reduced. Strain port mixture through a sieve over a bowl; discard solids. Return port mixture to the braising/trimmings pan; add flour mixture to pan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute or until thickened, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vinegar. THIS RECIPE ALLOWS for two tablespoons of "puddle" for each of the eight plates. Enjoy! Tomorrow night I'll be making all of this again for Saturday's Christmas dinner. YUM! ~From the Make-Ahead Diva!

LOVE this...I made a little 3'x4" temple with some cardboard, this made the cutting of the pastry much faster. If you think this is a lot of work youre right but you are making enough to serve 12!!!!!!! I will make it over and over. What a hit with my friends now what should or can i cook to top this? mmmm

I too have made this several times and it is a show stopper. Super easy on the day of the event. Guests rave and take home their own left overs. Love the hint about preheating the cookie sheet. Will be making for a birthday party this weekend. Always good over the holidays as well.

I've made this 3 times. Excellent. Only drawback is that you do need a full day to get this finished. Wonderful result. Once they are in the freezer, they are so foolproof and delicious.

Brilliant recipe! Fun to make, easy cooking directions (comes out perfect every time!) and wonderful compliments from guests. I serve with quartered and roasted new potatoes (olive oil, fresh rosemary and thyme) on warm plates.

As others have said, this is a lot of work to prepare, but so well worth the effort. After a day of skiing, pop these in the oven and enjoy. I have made this twice. On one of the times I needed to make one Wellington with no garlic, this was a bit tricky. I needed to prepare separate "layers" for this Wellington different from the rest, but the guest was impressed and enjoyed the end result. I have also replaced the blue cheese with Boursin for another guest, with good results. I highly recommend this recipe. I do warn that you need to give yourself a whole day to prepare, and you need room in your freezer to fully freeze the individual Wellingtons before wrapping them up. A hint, I made the last batch in the middle of the winter when it was -20 deg C outside, so I froze the little gems out on the sundeck. Before individually wrapping them and putting them in the chest freezer to enjoy at a later time.

This recipe is just awesome...I've made it at least four times and is a winner. The best is the preparation in advance, you can really plan ahead and have a superb result.

I have made this recipe four times now with great success each time. It is a lot of work to prepare, but a wonderful entree to have in the freezer and simply put in oven the night of entertaining. It is large portions and the men usually appreciate that. There are rarely leftovers!

This was a little high maintenance to start with so I didn't attempt for a long time. But boy I'm glad I did. I ended up having a blast putting it together, and the commentary from my guests was over the top. A real winner.

I have made this recipe 4 times (all for Christmas Eve), and each time was fabulous. The recipe does involve a lot of work, and should be done well in advance. This year, I used home-made puff pastry and Stilton for the Bleu cheese. It was a showstopper!

I first made this recipe in 2001 and when I found it again this Christmas, I was delighted. It is spectacular and though it takes time to prepare all that is in advance. The evening of the dinner it goes from freezer to oven. This is a very generous serving and you might want to consider your guests' appetites in deciding whether to serve a half or whole . Even my French guests were impressed! It is very very important that the spinach has all the water removed. Really press it hard on a sieve. I suggest that the cookie sheet they are baked on is PREHEATED to avoid a soggy bottom crust.

This recipe is a showstopper and one of the best ever in Fine Cooking. Be prepared--it does take a lot of time to make all the components. I'd suggest making them in stages. And it does take some practice to assemble the packets. But it is fabulous--right down to the cooking time for the assembled wellies. They came out exactly medium rare. Rich, delicious and perfect for a dinner party--just pop them in the oven for hassle free entertaining. Also, keep in mind they continue to cook once they come out of the oven, so don't overcook.

I made this recipe when it first appeared in Fine Cooking. It was great. I am not a fan of Blue Cheese so I used feta instead, it worked just fine. My only comment is that the portions were extremely large and my guests asked for them to be cut in half. I definitely would make this recipe again but I would use smaller portions of meat and cut the baking time a little.

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