Every professional chef and home cook probably has their own opinion as to what they think is the toughest dish to make. And, the reasons probably vary: technical difficulty, hard to find ingredients, a previous disaster with the dish, or the memory of a tough culinary school teacher or executive chef you just couldn’t please.
Some time-honored dishes are some of the most time consuming and difficult to make. But the payoff can be a masterpiece of flavor and presentation. If you’re a fan of reality cooking shows, you know there is one dish that repeatedly is either done well or thrown in the trash with a tirade of criticism from the head chef.
We’re talking about classic BEEF WELLINGTON with all components made from scratch. Beef Wellington is a preparation of beef tenderloin, coated with pate (often Pate de Foie Gras) and duxelles which is then wrapped in crepes followed by puff pastry. It is then baked in the oven with the end result being, beef that is cooked to your preferred temperature with a beautiful golden crust.
Here is a breakdown of what the components are and the approximate time to make each from scratch:
Pate de Foie Gras: This is a smooth rich paste made from fattened goose or duck liver. It is a very meticulous preparation which includes soaking the liver in milk, cleaning the liver which includes removing the veins and then marinating it from 12-24 hours before cooking.
Duxelles: This is a finely chopped (minced) mixture of mushrooms, onions, shallots and herbs sautéed in butter and reduced to a paste. Including all the chopping and cooking it will take approximately an hour.
Crepes: These are a type of very thin pancake. The batter is poured into a hot frying pan and spread evenly over the pan by tilting the pan or spreading with an offset spatula. Preparation should take about 30 minutes. The crepes are used to cover the duxelles and the Pate de Foie Gras so they don’t make the puff pastry soggy.
Puff Pastry: This is a light flaky pastry that is time consuming to make. It begins with a basic dough of flour, butter, salt and ice water. It is rolled out and wrapped around a slab of butter. The dough is then repeatedly rolled, folded and turned. The goal being to distribute the butter evenly in sheets throughout the dough so when it bakes the moisture in the butter creates steam which causes the dough to puff and separate into many layers. The dough must rest between each series of rolling, folding and turning. It can take 3-5 hours to make.
Once all the components are done the Wellington is assembled and baked. It then rests before being sliced and served. Hats off to all the culinary professionals who make this dish! And kudos to any home cook who attempts it!!
Have you ever made Beef Wellington totally from scratch? Tell us what is your toughest dish to make. We would love to hear!