In a rare instance dry of booze and unclouded by cigarette smoke, Roger Sterling extols a very 1950s room service spread that can’t help but make one’s mouth water. A celebration of butter, sugar, and beef, this puff-pastry-based feast of Beef Wellington and Napoleons is the perfect postcoital fuel for adulterers everywhere. I knew that any YouTube Wellington video would essentially go head-to-head with Gordon Ramsay’s rightfully famous videos, so I had to find a way to set mine apart. The answer was simple: make puff pastry, a process no one in their right mind should undertake, as store-bought puff pastry is a near-perfect invention. If you find that you have just too much time on your hands over the holiday season (as we all do), by all means, bust out the butter square—otherwise, these decadent dishes are best wrapped up in the stuff from the freezer aisle.
VERDICT: Homemade puff pastry is an experience worth having, but your time is better spent enjoying your life. Beef Wellington is an internet sensation for a reason: it’s a feast for both the eyes and the . . . mouth.
10 button mushrooms, washed and trimmed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ cup Cognac
¼ cup heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 center-cut beef tenderloin (about 4 pounds), trimmed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¼ pound thinly sliced prosciutto
3 tablespoons English mustard
Puff Pastry (recipe follows)
1 large egg, beaten
Flaky sea salt
Whole-grain mustard, for serving (optional)
PLACE THE mushrooms in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat until the bubbling subsides. Add the mushrooms and thyme and cook, stirring, until the liquid released by the mushrooms has mostly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Increase the heat to high, add the Cognac, and cook until the smell of alcohol dissipates, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cream, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until you have a thick, pâté-like mixture, 2 minutes more. Season the mushroom duxelles with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside.
SEASON THE tenderloin liberally with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until nearly smoking. Add the beef and sear on all sides, including the ends. Remove from the heat and set aside.
LAY DOWN a layer of plastic wrap large enough to wrap twice around the tenderloin. Shingle the prosciutto over the plastic wrap, with each piece slightly overlapping the last, to form a rectangle large enough to wrap around the tenderloin. Spread the mushroom duxelles over the prosciutto in a thin, even layer. Brush the tenderloin liberally with the mustard and place it along one long edge of the prosciutto rectangle. Using the plastic wrap, roll the duxelles/prosciutto tightly around the roast, then wrap tightly in the plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.
MEANWHILE, ON a generously floured work surface, roll out the chilled puff pastry to a rectangle about 3 inches wider and 12 inches longer than the roast, large enough to generously encase it. Lay down a layer of plastic wrap large enough to wrap twice around the tenderloin and place the puff pastry on top. Remove the roast from the refrigerator, take off the plastic wrap, and place it at the bottom of the puff pastry. Use the plastic wrap to encase the roast in the puff pastry. Trim off any excess puff pastry, pinch the seam shut, and press the ends closed. Wrap tightly in the plastic wrap, as before, twisting to create tension and remove any air. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to overnight.
WHEN READY to roast the Wellington, preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
UNWRAP THE Wellington and place it on the lined baking sheet. Brush liberally with the beaten egg, making sure to coat any exposed pastry. If desired, use the back of a paring knife to make indentations (not cuts) in the top of the pastry for decoration. Sprinkle with flaky salt and insert a temperature probe into the side of the roast so the tip of the probe is in the thickest part of the meat. Roast for about 20 minutes, until the center of the roast registers 125°F. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.