retro night beef wellington & potato gratin

I have mentioned once before on this blog that I am a limited fan of ‘classics with a twist’ – sometimes classics are just that, and their perfection is not to be overly meddled with! (OK – yes I do agree that sometimes a little addition or change can take something you are used to from ordinary to amazing…) Anyhoo – these recipes for Beef Wellington and Potato Gratin are almost the same as the ones I made back when I was about 19 years old (dark ages peoples – that would be the late ’80s), probably cranking up Wham, Madonna or Simple Minds on the stereo as I danced around our hokey kitchen with it’s teeny tiny gas oven. At that age I had just bought my first house with my boyfriend (and later husband – Nick) and revelled in cooking at every opportunity – hand made pasta, ox-tail stews, homemade ice cream without a machine, flash new-fangled sushi – God it was fun! (It was such a different time, I never made it to university as I landed a job with ACP NZ (later to become Bauer Media) at 18 and started a thoroughly enjoyable eight year career in magazine publishing before moving on to Elizabeth Arden.) We entertained from then on, boozey drinks, crazy Christmas Eve dinner parties, cards nights and casual meals with friends. These dishes would have been rare on the menu (the price of the beef still makes me nervous) but they have definitely stood the test of time – I would happily serve them to the same motley crew of friends that we still hang out with today. As Julia Child always said back in the day – “Bon appetit!” ๐Ÿ™‚ A big thanks to the good people at Fairfax who I produced these recipes for, it’s great to be able to share them on the blog.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 kg (2.2pounds) beef fillet, trimmed (the more even shape the better)
1 tablespoon butter
300g mixed mushrooms, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
ยผ cup sherry
ยผ cup cream
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
150g prosciutto
500g puff pastry, block or sheets
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp cream

Brush the beef with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Heat a large frying pan and sear beef evenly on all sides for 4-5 minutes. Set aside. Add remaining oil and butter to pan, add mushrooms, season well with salt and pepper and cook over a medium/high heat for 5 minutes. Add sherry, cream and mustard to pan, stir to combine and cook a further 3-4 minutes until the liquid is evaporated. Set mushrooms aside to cool. Lay two sheets of overlapped plastic wrap out on the bench. Place prosciutto slices in the center, overlapped but wide enough to be the same length as the beef. Place mushrooms in the middle and spread out flat, leaving a 2cm border around the edges. Place beef in the middle, and using the plastic wrap as a guide, roll beef up in the prosciutto. Hold the ends of the plastic and roll the beef away from you to make a secure, firm sausage shape.ย  Chill for half an hour. Roll out pastry wide and long enough to envelop beef, with spare pastry at the ends to fold in. Unwrap beef from plastic and place in the middle. Roll up, folding in the ends and seal with a little egg wash. Seal in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook, for at least half an hour. Heat oven to 210หšC (410หšF). Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sea salt and make several light knife marks across the top of the pastry. Bake for 30 minutes for rare, 35 minutes for medium. Rest 10 minutes before cutting into thick slices to serve. Serves 6

6 large waxy potatoes (approx 1.1 kilos), peeled
1 cup cream
1 cup whole milk
3 cloves garlic, crushed
120g gruyere cheese, grated

ยฝ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 180หšC (350หš). Slice potatoes thinly either by hand or with a mandolin. Put cream, milk and garlic in a large pot. Add potatoes and salt, pepper and nutmeg and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Use a big spoon to gently ladle half of the potatoes into a baking dish top with half of the cheese, then the remaining potatoes and pour in remaining cream. Sprinkle over the last of the cheese and bake 30-35 minutes until potatoes are cooked through, golden and bubbling. Gratin can be re-made and re-heated for 15 minutes in a 180หšย (350หš)ย oven. Serves 6


  1. I think we are from the same vintage as I remember very similar occasions and recipes around that period. Seeing this on your blog has prompted me to make this again as it was always a big favourite of ours โ˜บ

  2. i've only ever had beef wellington once. i made it for thanksgiving one year and it was divine. but like you, the price of such a good hunk of beef gave me pause. but it was worth it. and now i'm wanting to try your version…

    ps. currently listening to Wham's Everything She Wants. oh the nostalgia!

    1. Haha – excellent, I used to know all the words! This really was such a success, even my sister who isn't a big meat eater absolutely loved it ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. i would fly to new zealand for a taste of that! have you heard of skillshare? i'm sure your super busy, but i would love to see you do a photography course on there.

    1. Hiya – thanks so much, and yep I am pretty flat out at the moment, but no I haven't heard of skillshare…I'll look it up ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. I would love to sit down to this meal right now. And I agree with you that some "classics" shouldn't be messed with!

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