Do you have a dream job? Personally, I would love to teach a culinary history class. I would call it Gastronomic History and start with a classic Pork Wellington!
This recipe has a fascinating history and is particularly interesting because begins with Napoleon Bonaparte’s quest for European domination and a decent pair of boots.
A recipe rooted in history
Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself emperor of France when he was 35 years old in 1804. For the next 8 years, he waged war across central and western Europe expanding the French empire.
After a massive defeat with Russia in 1812, Napoleon lost again at the Battle of Leipzig and was forced into exile. However, he escaped and rallied together 1000 men to ride into Paris where he was greeted as a hero with throngs of cheering crowds!
Fully intending to conquer Europe, he marched over 72,000 soldiers into Belgium. There he was stymied by a unified force made up of Russian, Prussian, Austrian, and British armies. He won the Battle of Ligny, but he did not entirely crush his opposition!
How Pork Wellington got it’s name
Napoleon continued his march until right outside Waterloo where he was confronted by the British army under the command of Sir Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington.
How a great pair of boots won the war of Waterloo
Sir Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, knew the importance of proper foot care and purposely outfitted his entire army in tall waterproof boots. We still wear versions of these today as rain boots, farm boots, and equestrian riding boots. Ever heard of wellies? Well, the Battle of Waterloo made these boots famous.
Napoleon, not having any decent waterproof footwear for his army, decided to wait until after the waterlogged battlefields of Waterloo had dried up a bit to make his attack. This gave the Prussians time to come to the aid of the British. With their added force and the British troop’s well appointed foot gear, they soundly defeated Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo.
The Duke was not a foodie
The Duke of Wellington returned to England a hero and became Prime Minister from 1828-1830. On a personal note, it is said he was quite indifferent to food, but he did favor a choice cut of beef, mushrooms, truffles and a good Madeira wine.
Knowing this, his chefs went to work with a beef tenderloin and created the first Beef Wellington in his honor. They called it Beef Wellington because the finished uncut meat pastry strongly resembles the upper part of a Wellington boot. This bit of culinary history makes for great dinner conversation over a delicious meal at your next dinner party!
How to Make Pork Wellington
Truth be told, Pork Wellington isn’t a classic, it’s a spin off of a classic Beef Wellington recipe.
Pork Wellington is the tenderloin cut of meat browned on all sides smothered in a mixture of mushrooms, Madeira wine, shallots and truffles and then rolled in puff pastry with sautéed . After that it’s baked until golden brown.
- Bring 1-2 sheets of puff pastry to room temperature and preheat oven to 400F.
- Lightly season a pork tenderloin with salt and brown on all sides over medium high heat with hot oil in a large skillet. Remove the tenderloin and set it aside.
- Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup dry sherry or madeira wine (reserve other 1/2 cup for sauce).
- Lower the heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter and cook 2 minced shallots until soft.
- Add 8 ounces minced mushrooms and 2 cloves minced garlic. Sauté them until the mushrooms release their juice.
- Continue to cook the mushrooms until the juice has completely evaporated. Turn off heat and allow to cool.
- Brush pork with a light coat of dijon mustard.
- Lay out a sheet of room temperature puff pastry. Line it with a thin layer of shaved or sliced ham. Spread the mushrooms mixture over the ham.
- Spoon 1/2 of the mushroom mixture over the ham.
- Lay the pork on the far side and carefully roll it. Put it on a parchment lined baking sheet, seam side down, tuck the ends under and brush with an egg wash. Bake at 400F until internal temperature reaches 135F (approximately 30 min).
- Make the sauce – Add 1/2 cup of apple sauce to the remaining mushrooms mix and cook on medium low for 2 minutes. Add a 1/2 cup of sherry or madeira and reduce by 1/2.
- Stir in 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock and 2/3 cup chopped fresh herb mix (parsley, oregano, thyme) and cook down to desired consistency.
- To serve – After it comes out of the oven, wait at least 10 minutes before slicing Pork Wellington and serve with sauce.
This is not a difficult dish to make. No matter if you choose to use pork or beef, a medium rare temperature (135F) makes for a juicy tender bite.
How to Make Pork Wellington Ahead of Time
Yes! You can make either Beef or Pork Wellington ahead of time. Instead of doing one large pastry, do individual servings like this:
- After searing the meat, cut the tenderloin into single serving medallions (about 1 1/2 inch thick).
- Prepare the mushroom mixture
- Cover each piece with mustard, wrap with Serrano ham or Prosciutto, top with mushroom mixture
- Wrap each one with puff pastry
- Freeze in air tight container for up to 2 month
When you are ready to serve, thaw the individual Wellingtons over night in the refrigerator. Bring the internal temp to room temperature (check with a thermometer), then bake at 400F until golden brown (approx. 15 minutes).
What to serve with Pork Wellington
For some good sides to go with either a Beef or Pork Wellington keep it simple and try one or two of the following:
And here’s a FREE download I did on Thanksgiving sides, and any of these would be delicious with it.
Enjoy and Salute!
Pork Wellington - This is a cheap and easy spinoff of the classic Beef Wellington, but it is super tasty. Looks fancy but it's really easy! | www.lakesidetable.com
- 1 Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry sheet room temperature
- 1 1/2 pound pork tenderloin
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 4 shallots minced
- 2 tablespoons garlic minced
- 16 ounces mushrooms chopped fine
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 slices serrano ham or prosciutto
- 2/3 cup fresh herbs parsley, oregano, thyme (chopped)
- 1 cup dry sherry or Madeira wine divided
- 1/2 cup apple sauce
- 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg
- Pam nonstick spray
- measuring cups and spoons
- knife and chopping block
- baking pan or casserole baking dish
- pastry brush
- small bowl
- rolling pin
- meat thermometer
- Preheat oven to 400º F
Season pork lightly with salt. Sear it on all sides in a smoking hot pan over high heat using 2 tablespoons olive oil. Set aside.
- Lower heat to medium and add onions until they are tender and translucent. Add the garlic and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms start to release their liquid. Add 1/2 cup of sherry. Save the remaining 1/2 for sauce.
- Reduce completely, season well with salt and pepper. Allow to cool.
- Brush tenderloin with mustard. Roll out the puff pastry sheet to about 10" x 12". Use flour on your surface to keep from sticking. Line the pastry with ham or prosciutto.
- Spoon 1/2 of the mushroom mixture over the ham. Leave a 1-2" border. Place the tenderloin on top in the center. Roll the tenderloin up in the puff pastry. Keep the seam side on the bottom, tuck the ends under too.
- Make an egg wash with the egg using 2 tablespoons water and the egg. Brush the egg wash over the puff pastry and sprinkle with coarse salt like Maldon. Place on baking pan sprayed with Pam.
Bake for 20-30 minutes at 400º F. Bake until internal temperature reads 135º.
- Remove from oven and cut the puff pastry ends off (this allows the steam to escape so the pastry doesn't get soggy). Let the tenderloin rest for 10 minutes.
Make the sauce
- While the pork is in the oven, add the apple sauce to the remaining onion, garlic, mushroom mixture and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the other 1/2 cup of sherry and reduce by 1/2.
- Mix in the chicken stock and herbs. Cook down until you have your desired consistency.
- Slice pork tenderloin and serve over the sauce.
Note in the prep time I put 80 minutes. The active prep time is really about 20-30 minutes as you wash, cut and saute the mushroom mixture, and brown the tenderloin. The other 60 minutes is to let tenderloin cool in the refrigerator. It needs to cool off so it doesn't over cook. AND if you put a hot piece of meat on puff pastry, it melts the pastry and makes it gooey. You get a much better puff all the way around if the meat as cooled first.
Serve with a crisp sauvignon blanc or if you've made this with a beef tenderloin you might like a favorite cabernet sauvignon or Malbec. Baby potatoes with lemon and parsley, green beans almandine, and a big green salad also accompany it well.
This dish is easy enough for a week night family meal and pretty enough for an elegant dinner party.
Make this an ultra low carb, gluten free, and ketogenic dish by simply discarding the puff pastry once it's on your plate. The real treat is the tender and moist pork loin combined with the sherry mushroom sauce. Delish!