This is also known as Beef Wellington and brings greedy smiles to all assembled faces around a dinner table. This is real special occasion stuff. Take a little time to decorate the surface of the pastry lavishly with pastry leaves, flowers, tassels, a birthday name, mushrooms – whatever takes your fancy. Just remember to give it two coats of salted egg wash with a drying period in between for a rich glossy sheen. The whole thing can be prepared well in advance (un-eggwashed), wrapped in kitchen foil and refrigerated until half an hour or so before cooking. Remove the foil and brush with egg before baking. This doesn’t really freeze well.
1 quantity Rough Puff Pastry
1 tablespoon olive oil
1.35-kg/3-lb. piece of beef fillet, trimmed of fat and membrane
1 egg plus 1 yolk, beaten,
FOR THE STUFFING:
55 g unsalted butter
2 onions or 6 large banana shallots, finely chopped
225 g dark open-cup mushrooms, very finely chopped
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
100 g chicken or duck liver pâté
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6.
To make the stuffing, melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onions and fry gently for 10 minutes until softening. Stir in the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until soft and well-reduced (there should be no liquid left in the pan). Stir in the thyme, orange zest and vinegar, then cook for a further 1–2 minutes. Remove from the heat and beat in the pâté. Season well with salt and pepper and leave to cool completely (this can be made the night before and chilled).
On a lightly floured surface, roll out a third of the pastry to a strip about the size of the piece of fillet. Lift onto a heavy baking sheet, prick all over with a fork and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Remove from the oven to a wire rack and leave to cool.
Heat the oil in a frying pan or roasting pan until hot. Add the fillet and quickly brown all over, turning it often. Remove to a cold baking sheet and leave to cool.
When everything is cold, lay the cooked pastry strip on a baking sheet and place the fillet on top. Spoon the mushroom mixture over the top of the beef (or mould it thinly over the top and sides).
Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F) Gas 8.
Roll out the remaining pastry to a piece large enough to cover the beef comfortably. Lay the pastry over the beef and neatly wrap it around the fillet, tucking the ends underneath with a fish slice, spatula or palette knife and trimming off any excess. Use the pastry trimmings to make shapes with which to decorate the top.
Brush with the beaten egg, decorate lavishly with the pastry shapes and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Cover the pastry loosely with kitchen foil to prevent further browning and continue to bake for a further 15 minutes. If the fillet is a thick one, this will cook it to medium rare. If the fillet is from the thin end, give it 25 minutes in total. Allow to rest in a warm place for 10–15 minutes before slicing to serve.