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Fillet of Beef Wellington

Pastry,- rough puff paste or brioche dough
Filet of beef, about 5 pounds, well trimmed
Freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup Cognac
2 cups (about) duxelles (see recipe below)
Foie gras, mousse of foie gras, or homemade pate
1 egg white
1 egg yolk lightly beaten with 1/4 cup heavy cream


1 or 2 shallots, finely chopped, or 1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup butter
1 pound mushrooms, finely chopped

Prepare the pastry. If it is rough puff paste, make 2 pounds; if
brioche, make 1 recipe. Chill the dough till needed.

Rub the fillet well with butter and pepper. Roast on a rack in a
400 to 450 degree oven till it registers 120 degrees, it must
be very, very rare. Flame with the cognac. Remove to a rack and
salt to taste. Allow it to cool completely before making the roll.
If you do not, the pastry will melt in spots, causing it to be
flabby and break when you cut into it. If both pastry and meat
are cool, the final baking will brown the paastry and heat the
meat without overcooking it, which so often happens.

While the fillet is cooking, prepare the duxelles. Cook the shallots
or onion in 6 tablespoons butter over low heat until translucent.
Add the finely chopped mushrooms and the additional 2 tablespoons
butter. Cook very slowly to dehydrate the mushrooms completely.
They should turn quite dark. Stir occasionally. They will take
about 1 hour or slightly longer to cook down. Cool after cooking.

Measure the circumference of the fillet, and roll out the pastry
to a size that will envelop it completely, with overlap at the ends
and at the bottom. Reserve the trimmed-off pastry for decorations.
Spread the fillet with a thin coating of foie gras or mousse of
foie gras (these can be purchased in small oval tins in many good
food shops and many of the better supermarkets). Then spread the
pastry with cold duxelles. Place the fillet in the center of the
pastry. Bring the edges of the pastry together, moisten with white
of egg, and secure. When sealed, the roll should look rather smart
and tailored. Roll onto a piece of sulfurized paper or foil, and
transfer to a baking sheet or shallow pan. Cut small leaves and
rosettes from pastry trimmings and fasten them to the roll with
the egg white. Brush the pastry with the egg yolk and cream mixture.
Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven 10 minutes. Reduce the heat
to 375 degrees and bake another 20 minutes or until the crust
looks cooked through and golden brown. Remove from the oven and
allow to stand 10 to 15 minutes before sliding onto a platter.
Garnish with watercress or parsley, and send to the table with a
bowl of brown sauce or Bordelaise sauce.

To carve through both pastry and meat it is best to use a serrated
slicing knife. Each slice should be 3/4 of an inch thick. Tiny
Parisienne potatoes and a puree of green beans are pleasant
accompaniments. And with this, one should drink a great Burgandy.


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