boeuf à la ficelle {ffwd}

boeuf a la ficelle

Winter weather calls for hearty fare at the dinner table. With the arrival of another foot of snow on Wednesday, this week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie fit that bill. Have you ever heard of boeuf à la ficelle, or beef on a string? I hadn’t. No great surprise because Dorie says even in France, this is une recette perdue (a lost recipe). Beef on a string isn’t the most inspiring name. Believe it or not, we’re talking about beef tenderloin and winter vegetables poached in homemade bouillon.

The homemade bouillon was a bit of mystery. What’s the difference between bouillon and stock? The best answer I could come up with is that stock is made from bones and bouillon made of meat. The bouillon resembled stock, but in addition to some marrow bones, it also called for an oxtail, which is pretty meaty. The bones, oxtail, and onion are browned, then simmered with other vegetables and some spices. In the end, Dorie says to discard all the solids because they’ve given up their flavor. I’ll admit that as a good “dog mom”, I picked the meat off the oxtail pieces and scooped the marrow out of the bones to dress up Bella’s meals this week. She hasn’t seemed to notice any lack of flavor.

Bouillon Simmering

To make dinner, I simmered an assortment of vegetables, most of which I had in my mini root cellar in the basement (i.e. a big plastic container filled with sand next to the drafty door) in the bouillon.

Poached Vegetables

For the beef, I used a tenderloin filet which was about half the size called for, but perfect for the two of us. I tied the beef up with string (to make it easy to retrieve from the pot, I guess) and poached it in the bouillon until it was rare.

Beef with a String

This makes a lovely presentation: sliced beef surrounded with vegetables in a sea of bouillon. I served with Dijon and seeded mustard and horseradish to let us each season the bowl as we wished. I particularly liked the zing the horseradish and mustard gave to the bouillon in the bowl. And Howard rated this three thumbs up, very high praise!


We have enough beef and vegetables for another night of leftovers, and there is so much bouillon left, I see some beef and barley soup on the weekend’s menu. An everlasting meal. My favorite kind.

The recipe is available on-line here or you can find it in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. To see what other Doristas thought of this recipe, check out their posts here.


Posted on 7 February 2014, in Beef, French Fridays with Dorie and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Yes I have lots of leftover stock too! And I totally didn’t understand why you needed the string to remove the beef from the broth. But I did enjoy this more than I thought I would!

  2. I probably should have put more thought into what to do with the leftover stock. I dumped it before I even thought to keep it. Doh!

  3. I am sure your dog loved the treat this week! Glad this turned out well for you! :)

  4. Betsy, Yours is the first post I’ve read on this fantastic recipe (everyone who linked it seemed to love it). You cook your meat exactly how I like, tinged pink in the middle. We have chilly nights here (no snow in California, just drought) so I am planning to make it to serve with the white salad (a small white salad). Since I am moving to the other rental house this week, I need leftovers. Your Post was idea in walking me through the steps. I do not have a Bella, unfortunately. Our Golden Retriever was named Belle, did I ever tell you that? And of course you have a root cellar in your basement. What the hell? You have everything else in your basement. The first thing I am going to do when I visit you is head for the basement! About my heart-shaped pans. Look at my pix of last week’s Post. Two heart pans were something I brought from Aspen. I love to celebrate every holiday that God and man have decreed. Michael was a Grinch about Valentines Day – said it was a manufactured holiday and he wasn’t going to celebrate it. Guess what? He did. Every single year. I harrassed him until he gave in. (which kinda worked with everything I really wanted) So I have all kinds of heart stuff. Sorta a bittersweet holiday but since I know he’s watching over me, I just am not going to give him the satisfaction of my not celebrating this Hallmark holiday. Nice Post, Betsy.

  5. This was just wonderful, wasn’t it? We don’t have much meat left but I’ll be making Beef & Barley Soup with all the broth & vegetables, too! Great minds!

  6. Bella is a lucky dog! I liked this, and I am glad that you and your hubby did too.

  7. I love beef and barley soup too, that sounds like a great idea. With all this cold, miserable
    weather, that would be perfect. This was a nice recipe but I prefer roasted tenderloin
    as a special holiday treat. Have a great weekend and keep warm.

  8. Thanks for explaining the difference between bouillion and stock. I wondered about it. So glad you enjoyed this.

  9. everlasting meal is right! We are still eating the broth! I love that we can just dump more veggies and meat in and enjoy it endlessly! I’m even reducing a portion of the broth down to just enough for an ice-cube tray worth for a little “flavor boost” – take that Swanson! :)

  10. I like the Tamar Adler reference :-)
    Glad to hear that both Bella and Howard enjoyed their meal.
    Hope you are all shoveled out by now. Can winter be over already? I am crying Uncle…

  11. Betsy, My grand dog really enjoyed the oxtail that I pulled off the bone for him…I think I am his new favorite! Your dish looks wonderful, and I thought the broth/bouillon tasted incredible! Since we had no beef leftover, I threw some meat balls into the pot last night with all the leftover veggies and broth! It was great! Some bread on the side and it was a very satisfying soup! Enjoy your weekend!
    BTW…love the idea of a root cellar!

  12. Both our menfolk seemed to enjoy this one! Wish I had thought to treat the dog, too :)

  13. The meat on this went faster than the soup and vegetables… but I have just enough broth left for two bowls of French Onion soup- so I think that’s how I am going to finish it. Your dish looks terrific. Glad you enjoyed this one too!

  14. I was considering soup with the leftover stock and veggies (hubby nailed the meat pretty hard- it is LONG gone) and you have inspired me to do the barley combo. Yum. Your beef looks just perfect to me, exactly the way I like mine cooked. So glad to hear you and Howard both enjoyed it. And Bella too – that is one very lucky dog. Bonus points on a root cellar- wow.

  15. Lovely post! Reminder to self: make lots of the bouillon accordingly and have fun with it!

  16. I love everlasting, multi-tasking meals too! Bella is lucky to have you as her dog-mom, Coco & Rafa didn’t fare so well. Perhaps that is why Rafa has been on a hunger strike the past two days.

    Beautiful dish!

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