Pork, chili peppers, and pastry join chorizo, mushrooms, and onions to produce this show-stopping delight. Our pork Wellington matches its elegant, aristocratic good looks with an understated wealth of subtle flavors. And, to top it all, it’s surprisingly easy to make.
Pork loin is rightly ranked as one the leanest, most finely grained cut of pork. It’s certainly among the most delicate tasting — that’s because it’s the meaty heart of a much more familiar cut — the good ol’ pork chop.
This combo of flavor and texture is why loin is so superbly suited to being cooked gently with a coating of richly spicy chorizo-based ‘paté’, and encased in a crust of golden-baked puff pastry.
Now, Beef Wellington — or boeuf en croute as the, ahem, Waterloo-defeated French understandably prefer to call it — may be the grandaddy of pastry-wrapped, beef fillet steak. Fair enough. And there’s usually a lot of high-falutin fanfare to go with it. But I reckon the widely esteemed, traditional version is vastly overrated and typically looks way better than it tastes.
Why? Well, for me, the problem at its core is the filet steak. For sure, it’s tender, but a good sirloin or ribeye steak can be just as tender and those two always pack far, far more flavor than filet. My other issue with filet is that it’s so expensive. For my money, it’s always been too much outlay for too little taste.
In comparison, pork loin scores top marks for both tenderness and flavor. And that’s why it’s just grand for our special Wellington treatment.
To really showcase its full flavor, pork loin deserves to be teamed with strong, richly flavored partners. As with so many long-loved combinations — think bacon and eggs — contrasting tastes and textures often bring out the very best in one another. And our Wellington is full of such complimentary contrasts.
The chorizo, mushroom, chili pepper, and onion paté — tender pork’s perfect partner.
The paté that coats the loin is based on spicy, ground chorizo sausage blended with onions and mushrooms that are first softened in butter over a low heat.
The chorizo I like already has a little extra fire from the cayenne pepper that’s added to the sausage’s hallmark paprika. That heat gets further boosted by some pretty fiery, fresh bird’s eye chilies.
The entire mix then gets some very gentle frying to melt down the chorizo’s fat and really pull out all its flavors. The result? When it’s seasoned with a little salt, black pepper and lemon juice, you’ll have a highly flavored paté that’s easily good enough to be thoroughly enjoyed on hot, buttered toast.
Apart from its own fab flavors, the paté also adds a layer of protective moisture around the loin. That matters because, together with the pastry crust, it ensures the loin doesn’t dry out — and lose its tender flavors — as the whole Wellington bakes in a hot oven.
As for contrasting textures, the loin’s firm, uniform structure is balanced by the soft smoothness of the surrounding paté and the flaky, melting crunch of the pastry.
A word about the puff pastry
A good store-bought, frozen variety is just grand. Choose a brand that’s made with butter and you’ll be rewarded with a puff pastry that’s not at all greasy, but rather stays airily layered and turns lightly golden when baked. The helpful folk at Epicurious make two all-butter recommendations here.
What to serve with your pork Wellington? Buttery garlic spinach is just fab
For a great contrast of color and flavor, my first choice would be young spinach very lightly cooked with some very thinly sliced garlic that’s been softened in a generous amount of butter.
Spiced Pork Wellington With Buttery Garlic Spinach
For the pork loin
- 2 pounds pork loin whole piece, trimmed of any excess fat. The cut of loin I used had a nice, uniform, tubular shape, and was about 10 inches long, 3 inches in diameter — absolutely ideal.
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
For the spicy chorizo paté
- 2 red bird’s eye chilies fresh, roughly chopped seeds and all
- 1 pound spicy chorizo sausages skins removed. I first soak the whole sausages in boiling water for a few minutes to soften the skins and make them easier to pull off.
- 1 red onion medium-sized, peeled, and finely chopped.
- 10 ounces brown mushrooms roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 teaspoon ground sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
For the puff pastry
- 28 ounces frozen all-butter puff pastry defrosted. I used two, single-sheet packs each weighing 14 ounces, with each sheet of pastry being 15 inches long and 10 inches wide — pretty standard sizes, and perfect for your Wellington.
- 1 egg beaten
- 2 teaspoons water beaten together with the egg. This mix will help to seal the edges of the pastry wrapping, and also be used to glaze its top just before you bake your Wellington.
- 1 teaspoon flour for dusting (use as much as you need)
For the garlicky spinach
- 1½ pounds young spinach I tear out the thicker, tougher bits of white stalk, leaving only the leafy green parts and tender pieces of stalk. Place the prepped spinach in the sink and cover it with cold water.
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and very finely sliced
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- 1 teaspoon ground sea salt
Making the chorizo paté
- It easier to peel the skins off chorizo if you first soak the whole sausage for a few minutes in a complete covering of boiling water. Once the skin’s removed, cut the sausage into inch-long chunks — they’re heading for your food processor in a minute or two.
- Melt the butter in a good-sized skillet over a medium heat. As soon as it starts foaming, add the finely chopped onion and drop the heat to low. You want to let the onion fry gently — and I mean gently — for about 7 minutes, so that it turns translucently soft. Do not let it take on any color — you’re aiming to soften the onions, not to brown them. Good.
- Now stir in the chopped mushrooms and let them slowly fry with the onions for another 5 minutes with the occasional good stir. Turn off the heat, and let the mix sit in the skillet. Time now for the food processor.
- Tip the chunks of chorizo into your processor and give them a thorough blitzing until you get a consistency similar to fairly coarse breadcrumbs. Now add the onions, mushrooms and all the melted butter from your skillet. Blitz again until the onions and mushrooms are completely combined with the ground chorizo.
- Return your skillet to a low heat and add all the chorizo mix. Stir well and let it cook on that low heat for 5 minutes with a few stirs. This very gentle frying will melt most of the full-flavor fat from the chorizo. Turn off the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and tip all the paté mixture into a bowl.
Lightly browning the pork loin
- Return the skillet to a medium-high heat and add a level tablespoon butter. Once it foams, add the pork loin, and fry it for 3 minutes or so until its surface gets a pale golden color all over it. Turn off the heat and set the loin aside on a plate. Good.
- Assembling/Preparing your Wellington for the oven
- Heat your oven to 425F / 220C and set a baking tray — lined with greaseproof paper — in the middle of the oven. That paper’s important because it will prevent the bottom of your Wellington from sticking to the tray.
- Beat the egg together with two teaspoons cold water.
- While the oven’s heating — and your lightly browned loin is cooling — dust a little flour onto a cold work surface, and lay on it one flat sheet of your defrosted puff pastry.
- Now spoon an even, 1/3-inch thick layer of the chorizo paté down the centre of the pastry sheet. Take care that this central layer is about ½ inch wider all round than the size of the pork loin. Good.
- Now gently sit the loin on top of the layer of paté. If there’s any juices from the loin left on the plate, mix these quickly into the rest of the paté.
- Using your fingers, cover the top and sides of the loin with paté. You’ll find it has enough body so that you can easily coat the surfaces of the loin with an even covering that’s about 1/3 inch thick all over. Good. Almost done.
- Now brush a third of the beaten egg mix over all the exposed areas of the pastry sheet.
- Take the other sheet of pastry and lay it over the loin. Use your fingers to gently press the edges of the top sheet onto the edges of the bottom sheet — be gentle here but make sure you get a good seal that’s at least ½ inch wide all round the two sheets of pastry. If you think it’s needed, use a sharp knife to cut away any pastry that extends beyond that ½ inch seal. Time for baking.
- Quickly brush the top pastry sheet all over with the rest of the egg mixture and carefully transfer the Wellington to the paper-lined baking tray. After 10 minutes’ baking at 400F / 220C, turn the oven down to 375F / 190C.
- Bake the Wellington at that lower heat for another 25 minutes. Done. Turn off the heat and remove the Wellington to a carving / cutting board, and let it cool there a little while you cook the spinach.
Cooking the spinach
- First, thoroughly drain the spinach in a big colander so that you remove as much water as you can.
- Melt the butter on medium heat in a saucepan that’s big enough to hold all the spinach. As the butter foams, stir in the garlic and the salt, and drop the heat to low. You’re aiming here just to soften the garlic and allow it’s flavor to infuse the butter — about 4 minutes on that low heat is all it needs. Make sure the garlic doesn’t start to pick up any color — a few watchful stirs helps with this.
- Now add all the spinach to the pan and stir it so that it mixes really well with all the garlicky butter in the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan and let is gently cook on that low heat for 3 minutes with a few stirs. That’s it, spinach done.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic and spinach — and as little of its juice as possible — to a warmed dish ready for serving.
Carving your Wellington — use a sharp knife and take a little care
- This is easy with a really sharp carving knife — one that will cut through the pork loin with just a few firm, even strokes.
- You want to carve the Wellington into slices no more than ½-inch thick. As you carve each slice, make sure that it doesn’t fall away sideways from the rest of the Wellington — try to keep the entire slice upright. Then hold a broad spatula flat against its outer edge, and carefully transfer it in one whole piece to a diner’s plate.
- Once your suitably-impressed guests have stopped praising you, they can then help themselves to the lovely garlicky spinach.