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I'm thinking about cooking Beef Wellington this upcoming weekend for six adults and three kids. I've made it, with ok-ish results, before, but the trick is always getting the pastry right. Not too dry, not too soggy. (It was a bit too soggy when I last made it).

Wikipedia suggests a crepe to help prevent this: what are some other techniques I can use? Should I make multiple smaller ones, should I twiddle with temperatures or let the pastry defrost more than I normally do - I'm open to suggestions.

Update:

  • I am using store-bought puff pastry
  • 4 sheets of pastry vs ~350 g of meat
  • the meat has not been frozen and has reached room temperature before being wrapped
  • Starting at 200C
  • fairly small gas oven
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Wikipedia suggests a crêpe, not crêpe paper. You might not get such good results with crêpe paper. I've heard that putting a crepe at the bottom of the beef can help absorb the excess moisture from the meat and avoid the soggy pastry. –  Sam Holder Aug 26 '10 at 17:20
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What kind of pastry are you using? Homemade dough? Storebought puff pastry? What temperature are you starting out at? What is the ratio of dough to meat? All of these things will be helpful in knowing how to fix the soggy dough problem. –  Avery Wittkamp Aug 26 '10 at 19:46
    
... and what type of oven are you using (small, big, gas, hot air)? Has the meat you're using been frozen before (frozen meat releases much more moist!)? –  Bart Kiers Aug 26 '10 at 20:00
    
@Sam - corrected, thanks. –  Tobias Op Den Brouw Aug 30 '10 at 7:58
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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I don't know your exact prep but the best thing you could do is bring your dough to a completely thawed state, store bought will work fine. Make sure you beef is at room temperature before doing a quick sear, this will not only add flavor but will give you a layer of protection. Another problem that can occur is the puff pastry releases some steam and it needs some way to escape. After you have wrapped your piece of meat, take a knife and make small slits in it with the tip of a sharp knife. This will help release the steam and should take away the moisture. 425 degrees would be a good temperature to cook at and you should hit your ideal around 40 to 45 minutes. Hope this helps and let me know how to it turns out.

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The technique I use (with shop bought puff pastry) is to work it a little (about 2 minutes with warm hands will do), then return to the fridge for a couple of hours before using. This breaks down the butter layers and gives a less puffy and dry texture to it when it's cooked.

To avoid sogginess, as Sam suggests in the comments, wrapping the beef (coated already in the mushroom filling) in a crepe before covering in pastry can seal in the sogs nicely. I recommend using an ordinary crepe mix and adding finely chopped chives and a twist of black pepper. The trick is to aim to make a really airtight parcel.

If you are feeling really decadent you can wrap the coated beef first in parma ham, then the chive pancake...

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