I had never had Beef Wellington before. Not only was it never on a menu…like anywhere…but in my mind, Beef Wellington was in the same category as other strange food I might be served as a kid at my great Aunt’s house….like tuna with diced olives in a green Jell-O mold. Based on past intelligence, I assumed the dish was going to be Chef’s somehow deconstructed interpretation of Beef Wellington from a long forgotten dream. Instead I was surprised with a textbook delivery that made it very clear what I had been missing all these years. We have a local, organic, grass fed/grain finished beef brushed with foie gras and duxelles (finely chopped mixture of mushrooms, onions and herbs) wrapped in a puff pastry and baked. I felt like royalty eating it with all the richness and texture and, as I stated in the last entry; it is seriously filling.
Speaking of royalty, I made a feeble attempt to research the history of the “Wellington” part of the name (because the beef part is obvious). If I was a pathetic Spy, I would be telling you it was named after the famous Duke of Wellington who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. However, there appears to be more than enough evidence to reject this prevailing wisdom including theories that it was named after a party in Wellington, New Zealand and the fact that there are no references to the dish in 19th century British cookbooks. Indeed, the “Oxford English Dictionary pinpoints a 1939 guide to eating out in New York City as the first reliable reference” to Beef Wellington [Hyslop, Leah]. So the source of the name will remain a mystery for now. If any readers have more insight please comment! Cheers! Spy Out.