French Fridays with Dorie: Boeuf à la ficelle

Dorie Greenspan boeuf a la ficelle on eatlivetravelwrite.comThis week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, boeuf à la ficelle (p 248) was one I was a little leery of for a few reasons.  Firstly, the recipe itself, including the headnotes is three pages. THREE pages! Very unlike Dorie! Secondly, it calls for you to basically poach a beef tenderloin. Really? Poach a beautiful piece of meat?  Ok then…

I didn’t make my own bouillon from scratch but I did infuse a decent quality store-bought stock with the vegetables, herbs and aromatics listed in the bouillon recipe. Traditionally the broth is served as the first course with the meat and vegetables as the main but Dorie likes to serve the beef in a shallow dish of the broth surrounded by the veggies which have also poached in the stock before the beef, so that’s what I chose to do.

If you don’t make your own bouillon from scratch, this is a pretty easy dish and, as Dorie says, it’s perfect for entertaining because much of it is “do-aheadable” (yes, that’s a word in Dorie’s world!) and you can adjust the “doneness” of the beef depending on what the guests want. The beef as it’s cooked in the recipe (for 15 minutes) comes out fairly rare (as pictured) which is perfect for Neil, not so much for me. But as Dorie tells you, a little of the hot broth, poured over slices of the meat will continue to cook the meat while still keeping it tender.

I’ll admit I was dubious about poaching the beef but we had an excellent quality small piece of tenderloin (um, yeah, $30 for 600g) which I think is important with such a minimalist preparation. And you know what? This was surprising – and delicious. I loved the elegance of the presentation and ultimately, the simplicity of the dish which allows the ingredients to really shine on their own.

Oh and the name – boeuf à la ficelle (beef on a string)? Well yes, my beef was tied up with butcher’s twine and Dorie suggests  that this can be used to pull the beef out of the broth when it’s finished poaching. I used tongs. But I guess bouef à la ficelle sounds a lot more fancy, right?

Would I make it again Probably but it’d have to be for a special occasion at that price for the beef!

You can find Dorie’s recipe for boeuf à la ficelle here or a simplified version of Boeuf à la Ficelle here.

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32 thoughts on “French Fridays with Dorie: Boeuf à la ficelle”

  1. Ha! I was planning to go the tong route, myself, until I realized that my beef was a big shaggy mess by the time I cut off/out the enormous amount of fat. I tied it up in hopes that it would cook more evenly. Glad you liked this. I just didn’t think it justified the price of the beef. Tenderloin can be so much better!

  2. Look at that ^^^^^

    That’s a gorgeously, perfectly cooked piece of beef. Carnivore’s naughty pics. 😉

    Just ITCHING to have a knife and fork gently poke into it. And gently is all it needed, as it was wonderfully tender.

    I also found this dish a bit of a ncie surprise – though when I thought about it a bit more (after Mardi’s iniital explanation), it made sense. The “poaching” is really just a more gentle braising, so why would it not produce something so lovely and tender?

    Key here IS a very nice cut of beef: so the $30 tenderloin (from our new local butcher), dare I say, helped greatly.

    The broth was flavourful, but muted; like a nice consomme. This was really an elegant dish, and as Mardi says, presents well. (Can I just saw the looks at the canteen table at work were worth the price of the tenderloin alone.)

    This is absolutely a repeat.

  3. This was the only possible cut of meat to use since it cooks so quickly. Most of the cuts need
    too much cooking time. As delicious as the recipe was, I think I prefer to roast the tenderloin at
    that price. Have a great weekend.

  4. It looks just perfect. Yes, that string was a mystery to me. I don’t know if I would make it again, but it did make a lovely dinner. I didn’t expect to like it: poached beef??? but it was good.

  5. Now Mr. Neil and I are in sync with this one (we’re actually in sync with about everything you make), I like my meat rare and that perfect pink center is about, well, perfect. And, yes. Mardi, I noticed how you cut the carrots – Thomas Keller would be proud. I am making this next week along with the all-white salad (???) but I think I will go your route on the bouillon. You seemed to have a wonderfully delicious result. Leftover? They are probably better than the real deal.

  6. Looking at other recipes for this dish most did not say make the broth from scratch. I agree totally unnecessary. Your looks fantastic. Glad you enjoyed it without too much work.

  7. so you just made Boeuf a la Pinces … no problem there! 🙂 I bet it was delicate too! 🙂

    Glad you enjoyed this one! holy moly, at the price!

  8. My hubby would be drooling if he saw that photo as he too loves his meat rare so this recipe was very much “up his alley”. I could not imagine disliking the results of anything made with that cut of meat but I too prefer mine a bit more cooked. Still, quite a surprise at how much we enjoyed the “poached” beef 😉

  9. Wow, yours looks gorgeous!!! And I love your Laguiole! This dish was quite a surprise and it worked perfectly. Thanks again for your kind words and so glad you enjoyed this one too.


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