French Friday’s with Dorie
My favorite ingredient for this French Friday’s with Dorie Boeuf à la Ficelle (Beef on a String) dish was not the delicious and tender grass-fed specimen of filet mignon I paid a small fortune for. Nor was it the organically grown rainbow carrots with their timely anti-Russian homophobia political messaging that purchased at a local farmer’s market. Nor was it the somewhat freaking looking oxtail that I had to ask our butcher about twice before he would get one in stock for me to cut up and boil away in a sublime stock. And surprisingly, it wasn’t even the celeriac, a vegetable flavor that never fails to take me back to one sexy and somewhat debauched summer memory of mine.
My favorite ingredient in this one was the kitchen twine.
I purchased my big ball of kitchen twine about 8 years ago at a Smart and Final when I needed string for a craft project I was working on and it quickly became what I consider one of the most important “must have” kitchen tools every home cook should have in their kitchens. Kitchen twine should be made of 100% cotton and not have any colorings or coatings. In a cooking world full of crazy electronic gadgetry and industrial machinery redesigned for home use you might think cooking twine is too retro or unexciting a tool.
You would be wrong. I keep my ball-o-twine out in the garage but I hustle out for it frequently whenever I need to tie up roasts or truss chickens for roasting or need to tie bundles of herbs together for simmering in stews calling for a bouquet garni. I need it for tying up roulades, attaching chic looking tags to jam and jelly jars, and yes, I have been known to wrap up baked goods in parchment and twine before giving them away to friends.
“oooh! How chic!”
It works every time. So go and get some string. Its cheap and it will serve you well for a long, long time. And you’ll need it to make this dish.
Boeuf à la Ficelle (Beef on a String)
You can’t make Boeuf à la Ficelle without string. That wouldn’t make much sense anyway would it? You could cook it without tying it up but then your filet might not cook evenly and you’d have to fish it out with a wooden spoon or kitchen tongs when it was done.
You couldn’t impress your friends by telling them you were serving them Boeuf a la Ficelle if you fished it out with kitchen tongs could you? Trussing up meats to hold their shape is pretty much cooking 101 stuff but here you add a long loop before finishing to give yourself something to fish the filet out of the poaching broth.
Yes, I said poaching.
This idea might take awhile to wrap your brain around but if you think about, it this style of cooking beef filet makes a sense. The filet is a very lean and very delicate but its flavor is is very subtle. If you are a meat lover this method of cooking filet will let you actually taste its beefy goodness. I will never order filet in restaurants or steak houses as they tend to over cook it and then slather it in salty sauces. Why even bother with such an expensive cut of beef if you are just going to cover it in whatever sauce the chef decides to throw over it?
Here the beef isn’t overshadowed by sauce and its supporting players and couldn’t be easier to make.
The broth here is a revelation and if you follow the recipe you will be left with quite a lot of done after your meal is completed. Don’t throw it away! Pack it up and freeze it to make all manner of soups and treats with whatever leftover you have available. For an easy work night meal I took a quart of leftover broth, simmered it with some peeled ginger root and light splash of soy sauce and made up some ‘leftover pho’ by adding rice noodles and some thinly sliced leftover boeuf and cilantro.
This Boeuf à la Ficelle dish was an assignment for French Friday’s with Dorie, a cooking group working its way through Dorie Greenspan’s culinary tome “Around My French Table”. We generally avoid including the recipes in our posts. However, wherever there has been a significant adaptation by me or where the recipe has already been publicly posted by Ms. Greenspan or her publishers or by hundreds of other bloggers, or it is, in fact, not much of a recipe at all but rather a methode, I will either include it here (adapted) or provide a direct link to it. Please feel free to contact me via the link provided on my page if you need any assistance finding a French Friday with Dorie Recipe. You should buy the book though.
It will change your life as it has mine.