Bœuf en croûte
           — recipe from Françoise (Mercier) Bowden

This looks hard, but it isn’t. I got the recipe from a friend, but I have modified it a bit and will play with it even more as I use it. Her recipe did not make use of onions or garlic, nor did she precook the mushroom mixture. She uses veal in place of chicken stock.

You can’t use those faux tenderloin filets made from sirloin steak in this recipe: the pastry is too delicate and tears apart. You can, however, make a pâté (as in pâté-croûte) or other ground meat preparation for use in the pastry.


Serves 6.


  1 package filo dough
  6 small (6 oz.) cuts of filet mignon
  2 tbsp olive oil
  kosher salt
  fresh-ground pepper
  1 large shallot, minced
  1 tiny red onion, chopped, sliced or minced (optional)
  3 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  ½ lb mushrooms
  ¼ cup cream
  ½ cup Madeira wine
  ½ shallot
  ½ cup chicken stock, low-sodium
  1-2 tbps unsalted butter


1. Spread out filo dough and cut into 6 squares adequate to wrap each filet completely; the shapes will be generally rectangular or square.

2. Season each filet and brown it in the olive oil in a skillet, preferably not non-stick because non-stick skillets inhibit browning. A good 30 seconds to one minute on each side depending on a) the thickness of the filet and b) just how done you like it. Set the filet aside on a plate.

3. Chop (into long strands or dice as you wish) the onion and toss into the skillet. Stir to absorb the meat juices and the remaining oil. Mince the shallot and garlic and put into the pan. Slice the mushrooms, add and reduce a bit. Add the cream, stir and pour into a bowl. Pour off any juices that have expired from the filets into a bowl and save.

4. Assemble the dish by placing a filet and part of the mixture from the bowl on each filo square, brushing the mating surfaces with beaten egg yolk and then sealing. The dough should be decorated with fork or knife pricks, or other tricks.

5. Bake in the oven at 450° F for 15 minutes until the crust has raised and become golden brown.

6. Meanwhile, reduce the Madeira and the juices from the tenderloin filets with more minced shallots and thyme. Add the chicken stock and reduce a bit. If you want thicker, you can beat in a tablespoon or two of butter just before removing it from the heat.

7. Place one pastry on a plate and garnish with a bit of the Madeira sauce and parsley, watercress, etc. for a touch of green.