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Chicken Wellington

Introduction & method

The idea of a Wellington is a fairly simple one - essentially it's just a big chunk of protein wrapped in pastry, but it's quite a spectacular thing to serve for a big group. Usually Wellingtons contain beef, and it's usually very expensive. I thought I'd try it with chicken, for a change.

Chicken Wellington Recipe

Make the Pastry

I'm using hot water pastry for this recipe - it's easy to work and hard enough to hold its shape. You could use shortcrust pastry, or flaky/puff in which case I recommend you buy it ready-made. In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. In a small saucepan, melt the lard and bring the water to the boil. Stir half of the liquid into the flour, then mix in the rest. Wrap it in plastic film and set aside to cool down.

Make the Mushroom Duxelles

Brush any loose dirt off your mushrooms, or give them a quick rinse if they need it. Chop them into small dice about 3mm or 1/8 of an inch. You can do this in a food processor or pulse them in a blender, but be careful not to overprocess them. Peel the onion and chop that into similar-sized dice. Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the onions and cook gently for 4-5 minutes until softened but not browned. Add the mushrooms and stir them occasionally. They will begin to release their moisture and when that's all evaporated - about 10 minutes - season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.

Make the Stuffing

I used shop-bought sage and onion stuffing, half of a 170g (6 ounce) box. Follow the manufacturer's instructions - it basically involves dissolving/soaking the mixture in boiling water. After about 15 minutes it should be cool enough to handle. You want to make a sausage 25cm (10 inches) long. Wrap it tightly in several layers of cling film, twizzle the ends and bung it in the freezer. You don't want to freeze it solid, but you do want it to be very firm.

Make the Chicken Roll

Unwrap the chicken breasts and pat them dry. Trim off any bits of fat. Carefully cut each breast horizontally, keeping the two halves attached on one edge. Open up the 'butterfly', sandwich it between 2 layers of clingfilm and bash it with a rolling pin or meat mallet. The goal is to even out the thickness of the chicken, not to make it really thin. When you've flattened all the chicken, arrange the pieces on a sheet of clingfilm. You need a rectangle of pastry that's 25cm wide. Take the stuffing roll out of the freezer, unwrap it and place it near the bottom edge of the chicken. Grab the edge of the clingfilm nearestyou and use it to pull the chicken up and over the stuffing roll. Tightly wrap the roll in sveral more layers of film and twizzle the ends to seal them. Pop it in the freezer while you get on with the pastry.

Roll Out the Pastry

Sprinkle some flour on your worktop. Roll the pastry out into a big rectangle - it needs to be long enough to encircle the chicken roll with a 25mm (one inch) overlap, and the width should be 25cm plus a tab in the centre of each side which will be the ends of the Wellington. You can cut these out of the main sheet of pastry or roll them out separately and stick them on. Set aside any excess pastry to use for the lattice overlay.

Build the Wellington

Heat your oven to 200°C (392°F) fan, 220°C (428°F) conventional, gas 7. Spread the mushroom duxelles in a thin layer all over the main area of the pastry - leave a clear margin at the far end to seal the pastry overlap. Unwrap the chicken roll and cover it in the slices of ham. Place the roll in the middle of the pastry, raise the tabs up the ends of the roll and shape any overhanging pastry around the ends. Moisten the clear edge of the pastry with water. Lift the other edge of the pastry up and onto the top of the roll. Lift the other end over and press the overlap down with your fingers to seal it. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper and gently place the pastry/chicken roll onto it, seam side down.

Make the Lattice

You'll need a lattice roller for this. Sprinkle some flour on the worktop and roll out the spare pastry to a rectangle at least 30cm (a foot) long and a bit wider than the lattice roller. Starting a couple of centimetres from the narrow bottom edge, hold the bottom edge down with one hand, and slowly and firmly drive the roller up the length of the pastry strip. Beat together an egg and a little milk or water and paint the pastry roll all over with a pastry brush. Take hold of the long edge of the lattice and gently pull it to open up the cuts. Roll the pastry over your rolling pin. Hold your breath, cross your fingers, and unroll the lattice over the pastry roll. Trim and tidy up the edges and paint the lattice with eggwash.

Bake the Chicken Wellington

Place the Wellington into the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Turn the sheet around halfway through to get even browning. When baked, remove to a wire rack as soon as possible. Allow to cool a little before attempting to cut it open.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Chicken Wellington on YouTube.

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Ingredients & Info

 375 grams plain white (all-purpose) flour
 110 grams lard
 125 ml water
 ¾ tsp salt
 300 grams mushroom
 1 small onion
 50 grams butter
  salt and pepper to taste
 4 skinless chicken breasts
 100 grams thinly sliced ham
 85 grams sage & onion stuffing mix


1 egg and some water for the eggwash. Water for the stuffing.

US Customary/Imperial

Serves 6 -8
Prep time: 30 minutes.
Resting time: 30 minutes.
Cooking time: 40 minutes.
Total time: 1 hours 40 minutes.