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Signature Dishes of Famous Chefs: Gordon Ramsay's Beef Wellington

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Linda explores food trends, celebrity chefs, and great places to eat.

A beautifully executed Beef Wellington surrounded by a few of its main components

A beautifully executed Beef Wellington surrounded by a few of its main components

What Makes a Chef Famous?

There are good chefs, great chefs, and chefs who are known not only by how they cook but are acknowledged, remembered, and immortalized for a "signature dish," a meal synonymous with its master chef.

Today we'll discuss Chef Gordon Ramsay and how he creates his famous Beef Wellington.

A Brief Biography of Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay is an internationally known chef with a net worth of approximately $220 million dollars. He owns 48 restaurants throughout the world and has an equally successful career as a television personality and cookbook author. However, the glamorous lifestyle he enjoys today with wealth, fame, and loving family is far removed from the humble beginnings of his youth.

Gordon was born in Scotland, the second of four children. From the age of five he was raised in Stratford-upon-Avon. Gordon’s father held (and lost) many jobs due to his alcoholism and as a result, the family relocated many times. According to Gordon his father was abusive, neglectful, and a womanizer.

Gordon once dreamt of being a famous football star; at the age of 15 he joined a pro club, the Glasow Rangers. But then a bad knee injury changed the trajectory of his life plans, catapulting him from the soccer pitch to pot washer at an Indian restaurant. Now 16 years of age he had a steady (though meager income) which allowed him to escape his troubled home life. But the job had another, even greater impact on Gordon. His work at the Indian dining establishment piqued his interest in restaurant management and so he enrolled in the North Oxfordshire Technical College. A series of chef positions followed, interrupted by a study of French cuisine and mentoring by several Michelin-starred chefs. And the rest . . . is history.

And the Story of Beef Wellington

The origin of Beef Wellington is a happier story than the Ramsay saga (unless you happen to be Napoleon Bonaparte and/or the French army).

The infamous Battle of Waterloo brought together numerous European countries and states against the army of Napoleon. Gebhard von Blucher led the Prussian forces; the British Army and its allies were under the command of the Duke of Wellington, Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley. As we all know, on that infamous Sunday in June 1815, Napoleon was soundly defeated. As a sign of homage, Blucher was made an honorary citizen of Berlin, and after his death statues, ships, and even a locomotive were named after him. Wellesley ultimately rose to the position of Prime Minister, had a boot named after him, and (some would want us to believe) was rewarded with a luxurious dish of beef wrapped in pastry.

Was Beef Wellington really created for the Duke of Wellington? Consider the list of ingredients—an expensive cut of prime beef, mushrooms, wine, and butter-rich puff pastry. Those sound quite “French” to me. And could the same people famous for kidney pie, head cheese, and haggis really create something so delicious? I’m going to posit that the dish is actually a case of cultural appropriation—French boeuf en croute renamed for the man who defeated Napoleon (adding insult to injury).

What Are the Components of the Ramsay Wellington?

These are the basic components of the Gordon Ramsay beef Wellington. Each is a defining contribution, crucial to the success of the dish. But the completed Wellington is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

Puff pastry sheets

Puff pastry sheets

Puff Pastry Sheets

A simple yeast dough and a slab of cold butter—those simple ingredients are the geneses of this indulgent, flaky pastry. The dough covers the butter as an envelope encases a love letter. Roll out, fold, chill, repeat. Each replay of this process creates whisper-thin layers of dough separated by butter. Those layers puff and separate with the heat of the oven, resulting in a golden pastry that shatters into a myriad of buttery flakes when sliced. Each If you ever eaten a croissant, you have experienced puff pastry. Don’t worry—you won’t have to make your own puff pastry. Even Chef Gordon purchases ready-made pastry.

Perfect beef tenderloin

Perfect beef tenderloin

Beef Tenderloin

Tenderloin is not a rich, flavorful cut of beef. This is not a prime steak marbled with fat. Mushrooms, ham, and mustard are the flavor bombs in a Wellington. The emphasis here is on tender (hence the name). The tenderloin is the one muscle of the steer that is not exercised. It’s small and unused but for that very reason, it also has a buttery, cut-with-a-fork tenderness.

Duxelles

Duxelles

Duxelles

Next, the mushrooms. Yes, duxelles is mushrooms, and yes, duxelles is a French cooking term, created in the 17th century by Chef Lois Pierre La Varenne (kinda supports my theory that beef Wellington originated in France, doesn’t it?).

The standard method is to cook finely minced mushrooms in butter; most cooks add shallots and thyme for flavor, but the most important step is allowing the mix to simmer in a shallow pan until all the liquid has evaporated. Mushrooms might look dry but in truth, they are wet little monsters; depending on the variety, they can be as much as 92 percent water.

Ramsay doesn’t use butter in his duxelles (but he also has a chef-grade, well-seasoned saute pan). Use whatever type of mushroom is available; crimini impart umami flavor, but this is one case where more could be better. Mushrooms are not all the same and different varieties come with different flavors. If you can, use at least two varieties to make your duxelles rich and complex.

Succulent slices of Parma ham

Succulent slices of Parma ham

Parma Ham

"Prosciutto di Parma is a simple product. It's nothing but pork, sea salt, air, and time." Giovanni Bianchi, 4th generation owner/operator of Pio Tosin, 116-year old purveyor of 500-day aged prosciutto in Langhirano, Italy.

Oh my, if only it were that simple. At the deli counter, you might find parma ham labeled as Prosciutto di Parma, and boy does that make things confusing. All parma ham is prosciutto, but not all prosciutto is parma ham. Allow me to explain.

Prosciutto is a generic term for the paper-thin ham slices, air-dried and cured for up to 12 months. It’s salty with a hint of sweetness, fatty, buttery, with a melt-in-the-mouth savory quality. Prosciutto Parma takes all of that salty-sweet-savory richness to the next level.

  • The micro-climate of Parma provides the perfect balance of humidity and air temperature.
  • The type of pig used (Large White, Landrace, and Duroc–either purebred or a breed that's registered in the Italian Herd Book) is regulated by the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma.
  • Each ham is trimmed by hand.
  • And perhaps, most important—pigs destined to become prosciutto di Parma have a diet enhanced by the milky whey left over from Parmesan cheese production.
Spicy Colman's mustard

Spicy Colman's mustard

Coleman's Mustard

My American friends will not understand this one at all. This is not the Day-Glo yellow stuff that you swipe across a ballpark hotdog. Colman’s is a combination of brown and white mustard seeds that, quite frankly, is hotter than hell. The brand has the distinction of being one of the oldest in existence, originating in 1814 in Norfolk. There is no substitute or copycat recipe. In fact, it is still served in the Queen’s royal kitchen; by decree of Queen Victoria it is “The Queen’s Mustard.”

Let's Put Them Together

This is the authentic Gordon Ramsay beef Wellington recipe, from his professional website. The ingredient list is not lengthy, and the instructions are well-written and concise.

Plan ahead—Chef Ramsay suggests wrapping each fillet in plastic wrap and chilling overnight. After that, you will have about two hours of work from start to finish.

By the way, as a bonus, Chef also includes his recipe for a red wine reduction sauce.

Watch Chef Ramsay Make His Famous Beef Wellington

Sources

© 2021 Linda Lum

Comments

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 10, 2021:

Hi Peggy. I think we are moving away from beef and pork (and meat in general) and looking to a more plant-based diet. But, once in a while we still indulge ourselves, right?

I suspect that the histrionics are mostly for show (producers want drama), at least I hope that's the case. I couldn't tolerate that type of abuse day in and day out.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 10, 2021:

I remember that Beef Wellington used to be very popular in upscale restaurants in the 1960s. We used to watch Gordon Ramsey on television but got tired of all the yelling. It is probably all for show. Hopefully, the people working for him do not have to tolerate such behavior from him.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 10, 2021:

Flourish, the industry (back of house in a restaurant) is pretty crude. I don't know why--I wouldn't allow it in my business. Gordon can be sweet and kind. Sometimes I think it's all for show. I'm glad you enjoyed the history of this dish.

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 10, 2021:

Although I won't be making this dish because I'm not a beef eater, I certainly enjoyed reading. I wasn't entirely sure what the dish was so I know now and and I understand more about that yelling chef. Such bad behavior! Knowing his background explains a little but doesn't excuse it. Hopefully, he will have an epiphany.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 08, 2021:

Thanks Sis. The next few I publish (in a few weeks) will not be of the rags-to-riches but still (I hope) entertaining.

I don't know how anyone can handle Colemans. One taste was enough for me. I should probably mention in this writeup that I substitute Dijon (still has enough of a kick to get my attention without searing my tastebuds.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 08, 2021:

Linda, I've never had Beef Wellington, but I know what Coleman mustard is. My parents use it as a dipping sauce for crabs. Way too hot for me!

I had no idea of Gordon Ramsey's background. Once again you bring us a rags to riches story which makes his accomplishments all the more grand.

Great job, my friend!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 07, 2021:

Rozlin, it is very early in the morning as I read this; I've not even had my first cup of coffee and your comment is the first thing I have read.

You have put a smile on my face; thank you for your kindness. I will have another article in this series ready in a few weeks. You will always find me posting on Sunday evening or early Monday morning.

Rozlin from UAE on June 06, 2021:

Hi, Linda. This is an interesting hub about Gordon Ramsay. Even I like the way you make up your hub, one ingredient at a time, it's history, facts, recipes, etc. U make a well researched article. I always wait for your next hub which is always with a new idea. Thanks for sharing.

Blessings and love.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 06, 2021:

Rawana I enjoy doing food history, so I hope you'll look at some of my other articles (almost 600 on foods). I have at least 3 more like this in the rough draft or planning stage.

Rawan Osama from Egypt on June 06, 2021:

I love this kind of topics

Keep going

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 06, 2021:

Misbah, I think I enjoy researching the history of foods even more than the actual preparation of the dish. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Blessings to you my dear.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 06, 2021:

Dora, it is an amazing dish.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 06, 2021:

John, my husband and I rarely (no pun intended) eat beef--perhaps once a year and that's it. I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 06, 2021:

Ohmygoodness, Pamela. If you ate Beef Welly once a week you'd be gigantic, don't you think? Thanks for your comments and I wish you a wonderful week as well.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 06, 2021:

Bill, that's OK with me. I'm glad you liked the history lesson.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on June 06, 2021:

Thank you, Amara.

Misbah Sheikh from The World of Poets on June 06, 2021:

Linda, it was an interesting read. I always look forward to your hubs. You begin with the history of food, this time with Chef Gordon Ramsay's history. I adore your unique ideas. Chef Gordon Ramsay is one of my favorite chefs, but I've never tried to learn anything about his background and success. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Much love!! You are truly blessed.

Blessings and Peace!!

Dora Weithers on June 06, 2021:

It's fun t watch Gordon Ramsay on the cooking shows, but it's even more interesting to know all this information you shared about him. Thanks for the descriptions of his Beef Wellington ingredients.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on June 06, 2021:

Thank you for sharing this, Linda. I have seen Gordon Ramsey prepare his beef wellington before and it makes my mouth water. Unfortunately I still haven’t had the pleasure of trying it. I love hot English mustard too.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 06, 2021:

This is a terrific article about Beef Wellington and Gordon Ramsey, Linda. I did not know he came from such humble beginnings. He has surely done well for himself, and what could taste better than Beef Wellington.

I wish someone would just make this dish for me about once a week. LOL! Have a wonderful week, Linda.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 06, 2021:

I doubt I've ever had it. Doesn't look like something I would eat. But I loved the history behind it all. Well done as always, my friend.

Amara from Pakistan on June 06, 2021:

Informative Hub..

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