Since I began working at The Takeout, I have received multiple reader requests for a beef Wellington recipe. I absolutely adore beef Wellington, and yet I refuse to make it. Why? Because it’s a dish that’s meant to serve a crowd, which means that I would be forced to have people over to entertain, and I am not doing that. Beef Wellington is a very expensive dish to make, requiring an entire beef tenderloin (average price, $25 a pound), foie gras pate, prosciutto de parma, wild mushrooms—so now, with all the other accoutrements I need to gather for a proper dinner party, I’m spending well over $200 to feed people, and I have to clean the entire house, including the bathroom. I have to put out guest soaps and hand towels, find myself some good-looking plates and silverware that’s never gotten jammed in the garbage disposal—this has turned into an entire weekend of work, and that doesn’t even include the labor involved in making a proper beef Wellington. Oh, the labor! Unless you’re bringing a hostess gift of cold hard cash or volunteering to mop my floors, do not expect me to make you beef Wellington. You will have seltzer and nachos and hand soap I purchased with a coupon, and you will like it.
This does, however, leave me with the problem of not having any beef Wellington to eat. And so, thanks to our readers’ requests, I have finally taken the steps to fix that. Beef Wellington will always be a splurge, but in this case, it is a splurge meant for me, not me and 16 to 20 other people who like touching my guest soaps and snooping in my medicine cabinet. In this recipe, I transformed beef Wellington into a pot pie that can serve four people, with enough leftovers for a second dinner. Provided my husband and children stay on my good side, we all get to have a classy beef Wellington together while we sit on the couch and watch TV.
Instead of using beef tenderloin for this pot pie, I use boneless short ribs, which I like better. Filet mignon is the leanest part of the cow, and what it lacks in flavor it makes up for in tenderness. Braised short ribs, though, are delicious and tender, and I believe they make for a superior Wellington experience. I use an Instant Pot to cut the braising time down considerably; if you don’t own one, you can braise the short ribs in a 300-degree oven until they’re tender. (As I did not develop this recipe using that method, you’re completely on your own in figuring out the timing, as well as with any other adjustments you’d like to make. Just keep your eye on things and you’ll figure it out!)
I make my own puff pastry for the top, and I implore you to do the same. This is a cheater’s puff recipe, and I promise that even if you don’t have a ton of pastry experience, you’ll be able to pull it off sufficiently enough to make it work. I beg you, please don’t use frozen store-bought puff pastry, unless it’s all butter. A cheap, shortening-flavored puff pastry has no place in beef Wellington, and if you’re indulging in such a decadent dish, you must do it with your whole heart or not do it at all.
I adore morel mushrooms, but I don’t live the sort of life where I typically have them lying around. In this, I allowed myself the splurge, throwing in a package of dried ones to braise with the beef. It was more than worth it. I’ve also done this with chanterelles, which were similarly delicious, though I did prefer the beefier, heartier morel. You are free to use whatever dried mushroom you can find in your market, or omit them completely if you don’t have much luck tracking them down. Similarly, the pate is optional, but if you can find it, use it. It melts into the brandied duxelles (the mushroom mixture) and will make your eyes roll into the back of your head. If you decide you need to serve this with vegetables (probably a smart idea), keep it extremely simple, and keep the flavors and textures delicate. A tossed green salad is perfect.
If you don’t make this for yourself, but have a very generous friend who did and has invited you over to share, bring more than a bottle of wine, bring more than a store-bought dessert. Arrive with something similarly elegant and homemade, like a butternut squash pavlova or some Portuguese egg tarts, to show that you understand the magnitude of getting an invitation to partake in beef Wellington and wish to earn your place at the table.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cold
- 1/2-2/3 cup cold water
- 3 lbs. boneless short ribs, trimmed of any excess fat
- 1 large shallot, minced
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme (do not used dried, because dried thyme is garbage)
- 1/2-oz. package dried morels, chanterelles, or whatever nice dried wild mushrooms you can find at your supermarket
- 1 1/2 cups red wine
- Black pepper
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- 1 large shallot
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 (8-oz.) packages mushrooms, your choice
- Approximately 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 1/4 lb. thinly sliced prosciutto
- Package of the finest pate you can find at your supermarket (I personally like Les Trois Petits Cochons Mousse de Foie de Canard au Porto)
- 1 egg
In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt with a fork. Use a butter knife to cut the butter into thin pats—about 1/8", but don’t stress if they’re not perfect. As you cut, toss them into the flour, making sure they’re fully coated and not sticking together.
Add 1/2 cup of water while stirring, turning the flour into dough. Don’t try to smoosh up the butter! Just make sure there is no dry flour, adding more water if necessary. It’s okay if it’s a little on the wet side, as you’ll be adding more flour as you roll it out.
Lay out a large sheet of parchment on your counter (at least 2 feet) and dust the parchment, your rolling pin, and your hands liberally with flour. Plop the dough onto the paper and begin smooshing it out with your hands, dusting with more flour when it sticks (and it will be sticky!), then use your rolling pin to roll it out into a rectangle-ish shape about 1" thick (again, don’t worry about being perfect).
Fold in the shorter edges of the dough rectangle so they meet in the center, lifting the parchment to help you out. Pat down, and then fold it again once more across the center, like a book. Lift up the dough, flour the underside a little bit, then rotate it 90 degrees. Smack the dough with the rolling pin to flatten it out a bit, then repeat the rolling and folding process. Give it a few more good smacks with the rolling pin so it’s all sticking together, then wrap up tightly in the parchment and put it in the fridge. If you decide to make this well ahead of time, wrap it once more in plastic wrap. Store it in the fridge for up to three days, or freeze for up to six months.
Put a skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat, and let it preheat until it’s lightning hot. Cut any excess fat off the short ribs, pat dry with paper towels, and season all sides with a bit of salt. Add a few tablespoons of oil to the pan and sear all six sides of the short ribs until they are deeply, deeply brown. This takes some time (about 20 minutes), but the browner they get, the better the flavor will be.
While the short ribs are searing, put a tablespoon of oil into an Instant Pot, and turn it to the saute function. Once it preheats, add the shallot and garlic, stirring occasionally until softened, then add the whole sprigs of thyme and turn off the heat. Add the red wine, the dried mushrooms, and a generous amount of freshly cracked pepper. When the short ribs are seared, move them directly to the Instant Pot, turning them over a few times to coat with the wine mixture. Seal the pot, then cook for 40 minutes on high pressure. Allow a 15-minute natural release, then vent the remaining steam.
After the short ribs come out of the pan, reduce the heat to medium low, then add the shallot and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until barely translucent, then add enough mushrooms to cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with a bit of salt, turn the heat up to medium high and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms lose a good amount of volume, then add more mushrooms and continue cooking. It will take a few additions to get all those mushrooms in, but don’t worry about them cooking unevenly—the goal is to cook almost all the water out of them, which takes quite a while. After about 30 minutes of cooking (again, stirring occasionally), add the thyme leaves. When the mushrooms have concentrated to the point that they’re barely covering the bottom of the pan, add the brandy to deglaze, scraping up all the brown bits stuck to the bottom. Cook for another minute or so, taste for seasoning (adjusting as necessary), then set the duxelles aside to cool.
...move them to a bowl to rest while you make the sauce. Remove the Instant Pot insert and drain the braising liquid into a gravy separator; discard the thyme sprigs, add the rest to the bowl with the short ribs. Replace the insert and set the Instant Pot to saute and add the butter; when it melts, whisk in the flour to make a roux. Whisk in the reserved braising liquid, discarding the fat that’s risen to the top, bring to a boil, then turn off the heat.
Slice the short ribs into bite-sized pieces, then put them back in the bowl with the sauce and mix well.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Take your puff pastry out of the refrigerator, as well as the prosciutto and pate.
First, add the short ribs and their sauce to the bottom of a 2 -liter casserole dish, then evenly distribute the duxelles over the top and pat down. Next, dot the duxelles with slices of pate—how much you add will depend on how much you personally enjoy pate. Then, tear the prosciutto into pieces (they don’t have to be very small) and cover the top, overlapping them a bit, to create a barrier between the wet ingredients below and the pastry you’re about to put on top.
Crack the egg into a small cup and whisk vigorously with about a tablespoon of water.
Unwrap the puff pastry and use your rolling pin to smack it out a bit into a 1" thick rectangle. Dust the top of the dough and your rolling pin with a little flour, if necessary, and roll out the pastry so that it’s at least 1" bigger than the casserole dish on all sides. Use a pizza cutter to trim off about 1/4" from the edges, then drape the pastry over the pot pie and press it down on the edges of the pan, letting any overhang dangle. Cut a few vent holes in the pastry, then brush the entire top well with egg wash. If you so desire, take the trimmed edges and turn them into decorations for the top, then add egg wash to those too.
Put the pot pie on a baking sheet and slide onto the center rack of the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes. Allow the pot pie to cool for 10 minutes before serving.