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The prime rib might be the King of the holiday table, but if I had to nominate one roast for the triple threat of Dictator-For-Life, President, and First Tiger, it'd be the Beef Wellington. Surely, there is no more decadent roast in the history of the post-Roman canon.
There's no doubt that Beef Wellington is delicious. How can it not be? The exterior is a light, crisp, buttery crust, glazed a deep, shiny golden brown, twinkling with crystals of sea salt. You slice through it to reveal layers of the finest ingredients in the Western world: slivers of prosciutto, a duxelles of wild mushrooms bound with cream, and foie gras, all encasing a core of medium-rare, buttery-soft beef tenderloin.
And for all that, it's actually a surprisingly simple roast to do right. Sure, it takes a bit of know-how, but the practical technical aspects of it are fairly straightforward—the most difficult things you'll have to do is roll a tenderloin in some plastic wrap with a few other fillings. It's child's play, really. But your dinner guests don't have to know that.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.