I’ve got a Prime filet roast on a string
It’s floating in a stock pot
Got the string around my ladle
What a world, what a life—I’m in a panic
It’s an expensive cut of beef
And here it is a swimming
In a broth so dark and rich
Lucky me, can’t you see—this is a risk
But life’s a wonderful thing
As long as I have that string
I’d be a silly so and so
If I should ever let that string go
Now it seems done
For the beef it is a glimmering
Put it in a bowl with veggies, and let’s go
Oh, what a world, what a life—I’m in beef.
Who knew beef on a string would actually be good? Certainly not myself, Sous Chef, or the butcher who was appalled at the idea of poaching a great and expensive cut of beef. He actually uttered some not so flattering words about poaching beef, which have been excluded for those with sensitive eyes.
The process was long and involved, but that’s why it’s a French recipe. I could have simply bought a nice beef stock and have eliminated about four hours of prep time. But, hey, I am a Francophile at heart. So oxtails, marrow bones, and onions were almost burned in the stock pot and then covered with water. A bundle of fresh herbs and root vegetables were added to steep in the bouillon base, and then discarded once the bouillon was ready. More vegetables were added to poach in the bouillon and then reserved for later use. Once this process was complete, the beef on a string was added to the bouillon to poach for 10-12 minutes, and then set aside to rest. To serve, the vegetables were lightly reheated in the bouillon and then placed in a bowl. Slices of beef were placed on the poached vegetables and then a ladle or two of bouillon poured over.
The vegetables, bouillon, and beef had a delicate flavor to them. The bouillon, though rich in color, had a surprising lightness to it. Truly a delightful dish that is perfect for entertaining as minimal work is required once you get past creating the bouillon, and much can be prepared in advance thus allowing you plenty of time to mingle with your guests.
Let’s be honest about the beef. Instead of having a nice char, the outside turns a grayish color when it first comes out. But don’t despair. Once sliced and ladled with bouillon it becomes quite attractive in appearance. And it is a self-correcting recipe as well. Our beef was very rare when sliced. Once the hot bouillon was spread over it in the bowl, it cooked a bit to be on the rare side of medium-rare. Since it was still a little too rare for me, Sous Chef dunked my pieces for a few moments into the hot bouillon in the stock pot and, voilà, medium-rare.
So ignore the butcher, and all instincts that tell you poaching a piece of great beef is insane, and give this recipe a whirl!
Visit the French Friday gang and see what everyone is up to at www.frenchfridayswithdorie.com.
Dorie’s recipe for Boeuf a’ la Ficelle (Beef on a String) can be found at: http://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/boeuf-la-ficelle-beef-on-a-string.