Behind the Beef Wellington

The Beef Wellington is one of the rewards in our recently launched Foodie Club. Learn more about the story behind this classic dish and get some tips from My Food Bag chef Ella ‘Katsu’, a real whizz when it comes to making this foodie favourite.

beef wellington

When it comes to culinary icons, the Beef Wellington has star status. Tender, juicy beef covered with savoury mushroom duxelle and wrapped in golden, flaky puff pastry – what’s not to like?

Most famous dishes have an interesting backstory, and the Beef Wellington is no different. Although it’s difficult to pinpoint its exact origin, there are a few theories that have surfaced throughout the years.

Legend has it (and most agree) that the dish was created in celebration of Arthur Wellesley – the first Duke of Wellington – following his victory at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815. He was bestowed the title after defeating Napoleon Bonaparte the year before and served as Prime Minister of the UK a few years later.

However, wrapping meat in pastry has been a culinary technique for centuries around the globe. In Greece, flour and water was made into a paste and wrapped around meat to seal it before cooking, while the beloved Cornish Pasty has been around since as early as the 14th century.

A traditional Beef Wellington most closely resembles the French filet de boeuf, hence one theory that says the dish’s name was changed after the Battle of Waterloo rather than it being created especially for the Duke.

Today, there are many variations of this beloved pastry dish, including delicious versions for plant-based foodies (like My Food Bag’s famous Portobello Mushroom Wellington!).

mushroom wellington
My Food Bag’s Plant-Based Portobello Mushroom Wellington – a firm favourite with foodies!

My Food Bag chef Ella ‘Katsu’ is a Beef Wellington whizz, having made this foodie favourite hundreds of times. (Yes, you read that right.)

“It’s the ultimate treat food and the dish is sure to impress whoever you cook it for. There’s a certain amount of theatre to it as well because you don’t know how well you’ve cooked it until you cut it open!” says Ella.

Here are her top tips to keep in mind when making Beef Wellington:

  • Make sure your beef is at room temperature when you cook it. This will help the meat to cook evenly.
  • Sear and rest the meat before wrapping it in the pastry to ensure the juices stay in the meat and don’t make the pastry soggy.
  • Seal the pastry carefully and evenly to avoid air pockets and to help with even cooking.
  • Preheat your baking sheet so your Beef Wellington’s base is lovely and crisp.
  • Don’t be shy when slicing! Go for nice, thick slices (about 2.5cm) as thin ones won’t do the dish justice.
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