A very belated French Christmas: the main

What? A Christmas post at the end of January? Isn’t that a little too late? I can hear you say.

Due to the temperamental nature of my internet connection (it simply does as it pleases and is most of the time away on holiday) I could only post this now.

I know this is a very belated post-Christmas post (excuse the pun) but I just didn’t want to skip this post because the recipe is really worth it and who knows? It might come in handy for next Christmas (not for me, though).

For the second year in a row, we chose to do a main dish en croûte.

And for the second year in a row, it was Gordon recipe we chose.

The various books I consulted, all give similar proportion of cooking time per kg of beef.

We had a near disaster when we started painting the beef with mustard – and we had forgotten to take the string off! – however, this was nothing that could not be solved later. We simply cut the portions and took off the string then, before serving the dish.

For roughly 1kg of beef we decided to cook it for 40 minutes. That was way too raw for me even though some people like it.

Afterwards, I did check on a few other recipes to compare cooking times and, believe it or not, that was the proportion from 800g to 1.5kg beef the cooking time was indeed 40 minutes.

If you don’t like it blue, cook the beef for 40 minutes, then wrap it in tinfoil and continue cooking for 20 to 30 more minutes. The puff pastry should be quite golden brown by now and if you don’t cover it with tinfoil it will go too dark.

My advice is to cut your beef into two or even three pieces, depending on the size, wrap them separately in puff pastry and then cook them, just like Gordon advices.

The conclusion is that it all depends on the taste. So there’s no right and wrong here.

We did this recipe for 6 people and trebled the recipe.

Boeuf en croûte – adapted from a recipe by Gordon Ramsay in The F Word

Serves 2


  • 400g beef fillet
  • 400g flat mushrooms (we used a mix of wild mushrooms)
  • 4 slices Parma ham
  • English mustard for brushing meat (we used Dijon)
  • 200g puff pastry
  • 2 egg yolks
  • approx. 8 Charlotte/new potatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 large baby gem lettuce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Mustard vinaigrette, optional

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.

2. Heat some oil in a large pan and quickly fry the seasoned beef all over until it’s brown. Remove and allow to cool. The point of this is simply to sear the beef and seal all those juices in, you don’t want to cook the meat at this stage. Allow to cool and brush generously with the mustard.

3. Roughly chop the mushrooms and blend in a food processor to form a puree. (We cooked them first). Scrape the mixture into a hot, dry pan and allow the water to evaporate. When sufficiently dry (the mixture should be sticking together easily), set aside and cool.

4. Roll out a generous length of cling film, lay out the four slices of Parma ham, each one slightly overlapping the last. With a pallet knife spread the mushroom mixture evenly over the ham.

5. Place the beef fillet in the middle and keeping a tight hold of the cling film from the outside edge, neatly roll the parma ham and mushrooms over the beef into a tight barrel shape. Twist the ends to secure the clingfilm. Refrigerate for 10 -15 minutes, this allows the Wellington to set and helps keep the shape.

6. Roll out the pastry quite thinly to a size which will cover your beef. Unwrap the meat from the cling film. Egg wash the edge of the pastry and place the beef in the middle. Roll up the pastry, cut any excess off the ends and fold neatly to the ‘underside’. Turnover and egg wash over the top. Chill again to let the pastry cool, approximately 5 minutes. Egg wash again before baking at 200c for 35 – 40 minutes. Rest 8 -10 minutes before slicing.

7. Par boil the potatoes in salted water. Quarter them and leave the skin on. Sauté in olive oil and butter with the garlic and thyme, until browned and cooked through. Season. Remove the thyme and garlic before serving.

8. Separate the outside leaves of the baby gem (leaving the smaller inner ones for salads) and very quickly sauté them in a pan of olive oil with a little salt and pepper – just enough to wilt them.

9. Serve hearty slices of the Wellington alongside the sautéed potatoes and wilted baby gems. A classic mustard vinaigrette makes a great dressing.


And here’s Gordon, giving a masterclass:



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