Many of us, at some point in our lives, have come across Beef Wellington, an iconic British dish. The mere thought of it conjures up images of a bygone era of stodgy restaurants heavily draped in dark velvet and floral carpets. Why resurrect an old relic, and especially to attempt to pull it off in a home kitchen?

Done right, Beef Wellington makes a sublime, elegant holiday meal and with a few modifications, is actually quite simple to make. Served with mashed potatoes or cubed, roasted sweet potatoes, crusty rolls and buttered green beans, it will delight the palates of the most discerning guest.

Traditional Beef Wellington recipes take days to prepare. Our simplified version, start to finish, should take most home cooks under an hour to create the pastry-wrapped meat, that like a beautifully browned Thanksgiving turkey, makes an impressive entrance to your holiday table.

We made two Wellingtons using two different cuts of meat, with good success each time. Grass-fed, hormone-free beef tenderloin purchased at Berkeley Bowl cost $24 per pound, and USDA Choice Angus Beef fillet from Safeway cost approximately $13.50 per pound. Both had to be cut by the butcher for this recipe. Mike, the friendly butcher at Safeway, will cut the fillet while you wait if they don’t have any on hand (fillet steaks are too small). Make several small Wellingtons to feed a group rather than one large one, which is harder to wrap in dough.

There are four basic steps: brown the meat, sauté the shallots and mushrooms, top with the additions and wrap in dough. All ingredients can be purchased at Safeway and probably Raley’s (Raley’s employees were on strike at the time this story was produced). Our recipe is for one small fillet or tenderloin. Both of our recipes yielded a lovely Wellington, but the crust didn’t stay intact when sliced. It’s still delicious, if a bit messy—the price you pay for shortcuts!

1.5 lbs. beef filet or tenderloin
1 oz. liver pâté (or substitute gorgonzola or blue cheese)
4 large shallots, chopped fine
2 oz. brown mushrooms, chopped fine (about 10 small)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 – 9″ round refrigerated pie crust
Salt and pepper to taste

Au Jus
16 oz. low sodium beef broth
4 oz. good red wine

Preheat oven to 425. Season the beef with salt and pepper to taste, but if you can’t find low sodium broth, omit the salt. Place in a shallow pan and cook for 5 minutes, then turn heat to 400 and cook another 10 minutes or until browned. Remove from oven and let sit for 30 minutes, over a rack; preserving accumulated juices. The meat can be browned ahead of time and cooled in the refrigerator if desired. If it’s still moist on the surface pat dry with a paper towel. Chop shallots and mushrooms, cook in a small pan in 1 tbsp. butter for 10 minutes on mediumlow heat. Set aside to cool. Spread the pâté on the top of the meat. Spread the shallot mixture on top of the pâté. If you are using gorgonzola, spread shallot mixture on first, then crumble cheese on top. Place meat in center of dough and wrap short ends over first, then the long ends. Gently pinch to seal the seam. Return to oven for 15 minutes or until dough is a rich brown. The meat is meant to be served pink in the center. Meanwhile, cook the broth until it boils gently, then add wine and cook until slightly thickened; serve on the side. 2-3 servings