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Beef Wellingon Turns Out Soggy

Asked by dheardzimin. Answered on 20th March 2011

Full question

Whenever I make a beef wellington, the beef turns out perfectly, but the pastry is always soggy - any ideas how I can stop this?

Our answer

It is usually the pastry base of a beef wellington that turns out to be soggy, as the juices from the beef and the mushroom filling tend to drip down onto the pastry as the wellington cooks. The first step to a crisper pastry is to make sure that the mushroom filling is cooked until all of the liquid has evaporated. Chop the mushrooms finely and fry with a tiny amount of olive oil until the mushrooms are very dry. You can blot the cooked mushrooms with kitchen paper (paper towels) as an additional precaution and cool thoroughly before using. Puff pastry needs to be kept cool and for the best results should be cooked from chilled so make sure that the seared or browned beef fillet (tenderloin) is thoroughly cool, and preferably chilled, before assembling the wellington and if possible refrigerate the assembled wellington before its final baking.

The classic wellington recipes wrap the beef and mushroom mixture in crepes (thin pancakes) before the puff pastry coating as the crepes act as a barrier, absorbing any moisture from the beef and mushrooms and allowing the pastry to bake properly in the oven. If you are using store-bought crepes then make sure that they are plain and not the sweet variety. One other approach is to bake "blind" a rectangle of puff pastry for the base before assembling the wellington. Cut a rectangle of pastry slightly larger than the beef for the base, prick it thoroughly with a fork and bake at 200c/400F for 20 minutes until golden. Cool completely on a wire rack then transfer to a clean baking sheet and sit the beef fillet on the cooked pastry and spread the mushroom mixture under and over the beef. Drape a large sheet of uncooked puff pastry over the beef and seal the edges of the cooked and uncooked pastry together with beaten egg, trimming any excess pastry. Chill then glaze and bake in a hot oven for 20-30 minutes (or following your own recipe instructions).

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