What we know about the Duke of Wellington:
- Commander Extraordinaire
- Fabulous taste in wine
- A wit dry as burned popcorn
What we don’t know about the Duke of Wellington:
- If he actually had anything at all to do with beef wellington.
Some say it was his favorite dish. Some say it was named for a resemblance to the “Wellington” boot. Others claim it was a chef’s attempt to bank on patriotic nostalgia. The first appearance of any sort of Beef Wellington in print was in a 1966 cookbook, thus making the notion that it was the choice supper of the “conquerer of the conquerer of the world” slightly improbable. But it’s a notion I like to adhere to nonetheless.
And because I have been in a British phase for roughly the last fifteen years, and because I was of two minds on the theme for a recent dinner party (French bistro or British high tea?), and because I am generally fond of having my way (no matter how many of those ways that might be), I went with the theme of Waterloo – and now I can have crepes and tea sandwiches thank you very much.
And I can also have these.
These have all the panache and power of beef wellington, in a Napoleon-sized bite. A buttery and flaky miniature shell is filled with seared beef tenderloin, rich sautéed mushrooms and shallots, and topped with a tangy gorgonzola cheese. They’re a decadent sit-down meal on a wee cocktail plate, or the perfect opening act for the rest of your nerd-themed dinner party (nerdy is the new black, right?).
Beef Wellington Bites
Author: Pickled Capers Prep time: 3 hours Cook time: 30 mins Total time: 3 hours 30 mins Serves: 8-10 The shortcut to these is to use the store bought phyllo cups you can find in your grocery freezer. However, if you CAN take the time, do. these perfectly flaky little pie shells will reward you ten-fold.
- 2 1½“-2” Filet Mignon Steaks
- 1 Carton of Button or Baby Portabella Mushrooms, diced
- 1 small Shallot, minced
- ½ T Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 T Unsalted Butter
- ¼ C Gorgonzola, crumbled
- Parsley (garnish)
- Salt and Pepper
Miniature Pie Shells:
- ⅓ C Water, Ice Cold
- 228 g (1 C + 9 T) All-Purpose Flour + more for covering work surface
- 10½ T Butter, Cold
- ½ tsp Salt
To Make Pie Shells:
- Add flour to bowl of a food processor.
- Cut butter into 1″ cubes and add to flour.
- Pulse just until butter is pea-sized and mixture looks slightly crumbly.
- Stir salt into water and add over flour mixture.
- Pulse just until a dough ball begins to form. You still want to be able to see small pieces of butter.
- Remove dough from food processor and shape into 1″ disk. Then cover in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator for at least a couple hours or up to overnight.
- After the dough has had time to rest, remove from refrigerator and place on a lightly-floured surface*.
- Roll out dough to about ⅛” thickness.
- Using a biscuit cutter (or an empty glass will do in a pinch**) cut out rounds of dough.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Grease the bottom-side of a mini muffin tin, or alternately, use mini muffin liners (this worked like a dream).
- Place each round over the greased or lined muffin cup and pat down into shape.
- Bake at 375 for 12 to 14 minutes, or until just beginning to brown.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely on muffin tin.
- Shells can be made up to a day or two in advance if stored in an airtight container.
To Make Filling:
- Prepare filet mignon as described here. Put to side to rest (it is okay for it to come to room temperature).
- Heat butter in a non-Teflon-coated skillet and sauté mushrooms and shallots.
- Deglaze*** skillet with vinegar.
- Salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.
- Dice steaks and add to mushroom mixture.
- Fill pie shells with steak and mushroom filling.
- Top with crumbled gorgonzola and parsley leaf
- Shells can be filled up to a couple hours before serving and kept warm in a 200 degree oven. (don’t top with gorgonzola until right before serving!)
*My method of choice is to sprinkle flour over a clean and smooth surface and then roll the rolling pin over it to spread it fairly evenly.
**Whether using a biscuit cutter or a glass, be sure you place them around the underside of a mini-muffin cup first to judge whether the resulting dough-round will be big enough to completely cover it. I used a 3½” biscuit cutter for a 2″ mini muffin tin.
***Deglaze: a technique that uses wine or vinegar to get all of that flavor-packed, browned goodness from the bottom of the skillet. Just add the vinegar and use a spatula to scrape and mix.