This aromatic recipe is perfect for impressing guests or for celebrating a special occasion. Individual portions make it easy to serve and of course, you can team it with your favourite seasonal vegetables. This recipe serves 4, but you can easily adjust the quantities to make more, or fewer mini beef wellingtons
1 x 500g packet of puff pastry
plain flour for dusting
20g dried porcini mushrooms
A splash of cooking oil (I like to use locally grown rapeseed oil)
Salt and petter
4 x 180g slices of ethically reared fillet beef
4 small shallots, finely chopped
knob of butter
500g chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and chopped finely
2 tbs sweet sherry (optional) If you don't have any sherry, brandy is a good substitute
handful of fresh thyme leaves
1 egg, lightly beaten
300ml double cream
preheat your oven to 200 degrees centigrade or gas mark 6
Rinse the dried mushrooms in cold water, then pop them into a small, heatproof bowl, cover with hot water and leave to soak for 20 minutes.
generously dust your work surface with flour and roll your pastry to a large square, approximately 0.5cm thick.
cut the square into four, evenly sized pieces and trim them with a sharp knife to neaten them.
place them onto 2, lightly greased baking trays and pop them into the fridge while you prepare the beef.
heat a little oil in a frying pan over a high heat.
Season the beef with salt and pepper and rub it into the meat.
Pan fry each piece of meat for one minute on each side - this will help to develop the flavour
set the meat aside.
Put your finely chopped shallots into the same pan, lower the heat to medium and fry for 4-5 minutes until softened. If they start to get too brown, add a little water to the pan.
Next, add the butter and chestnut mushrooms to the shallots and cook for 5-6 minutes until the mixture is soft and delicious looking.
Drain the soaked dried porcini mushrooms and chop finely (save the liquid for soup making - it's full of flavour!)
Add them to the chestnut mushrooms and shallots in the pan along with the sherry if using. Cook until the alcohol has evaporated and the mushroom mix looks a little like Pate - not too wet and not too dry.
Add the thyme leaves, taste to check the seasoning and cook for one more minute before taking the pan off the heat and setting aside.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and prepare to assemble your mini beef wellingtons.
Put a large tablespoonfuls of the mushroom mixture into the centre of each pastry square and spread it to the same size as your beef steaks.
put the beef on top of the mushroom mix
brush a little beaten egg around the edges of the pastry
draw up the corners and edges of the pastry so that they meet and overlap slightly in the middle, completely wrapping your beef in a blanket of pastry.
Turn your beef wellington over so that the 'seam' is on the bottom. shape the sides with your hands so that it looks neat.
repeat for each piece of beef and pop them into the fridge for 5 minutes (or until you are ready to start cooking.)
Save the leftover mushroom mix to make a sauce for your mini-wellingtons
before putting your wellingtons into the oven, slash the top of the pastry 2 or 3 times with a sharp knife. This will allow any steam to escape so that it doesn't make the pastry soggy.
Brush the pastry all over with beaten egg to give a nice gloss and an appetising honey colour to your finished dish.
Cook for 14 minutes if you like your beef medium rare. You can adjust this time according to how well you like your meat cooked.
five minutes before your wellingtons are ready, reheat the mushroom mixture for 2 minutes until it's hot. add the double cream and cook for another 2 minutes. Adjust the seasoning and then take off the heat and pop a lid or a tea towel over the pan to keep the sauce warm.
Take your mini beef wellingtons out of the oven and serve with the sauce and a flourish - oh -and some seasonal vegetables