Beef on a String

October  4, 2022
3 Ratings
Photo by Tom Hirschfeld/
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

This recipe is based on one found in the Chez Panisse Cookbook by Alice Waters. Generally speaking you always see beef tenderloin grilled or seared. Here it is poached in a very flavorful broth much like pot au feu but the end results are a very rich and different tasting beef medallion.

You can make the stock right before you want to make this recipe then strain it and proceed but you want a very flavorful broth before you start to poach the beef because the beef will finish cooking well before the stock would reach maximum flavor.

I also allowed the beef a good deal of time to come to room temperature which makes a huge difference in cooking time as does the circumference of the tenderloin. So while I give a time for doneness you may very well find it to be different for you. —thirschfeld

What You'll Need
  • 8 cups home made vegetable stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon Sechuan peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 8 whole cloves of garlic, peeled and trimmed
  • 8 carrots, washed, peeled and cut into 2 inch long pieces
  • 8 fingerling or small potatoes, peeled
  • 2 celery roots, peeled and cut into 2 inch batons
  • 1 or 2 onions depending on size, trimmed, root end left on then cut into wedges
  • 2 to 2 1/4 pounds center cut piece of beef tenderloin, trimmed and cleaned of sinew, buyer can do this for you, trussed
  • 2 tablespoons Pommery whole grain mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, very finely minced
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  1. Remove the trimmed and trussed tenderloin from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. This will take about an hour.
  2. Place a 4 quart heavy bottomed pot onto the stove. Place the tenderloin into the pot and add enough stock to cover it by an inch. You may or may not use all the stock. Remove the beef tenderloin from the stock and place it onto a plate. Pate the tenderloin dry and season it with salt.
  3. Add the garlic, fennel, Sechuan and black peppercorns to the vegetable stock. Season the stock with a teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds fresh ground black pepper. Bring the stock to a boil then turn off the heat. Now trim all your vegetables and prep everything else while you let the stock steep with the spices.
  4. Combine the mustard, mayo, parsley and lemon juice. Mix it well. Add some salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. Add the trussed tenderloin to the pot.
  6. If you have big chunks of vegetables and some smaller ones you will want to add the veggies in stages. If the carrots are the largest add them first and so on. If they are all about the same size just add them all.
  7. Turn the heat to medium high and bring the pot to a boil then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Set a timer for 10 minutes. At the end of 10 minutes turn the tenderloin if it is floating and check for doneness. Set the timer again for 10 minutes.
  8. The tenderloin will start to look split at the edges and if you look into the cracks and see bright red you need to cook it longer. The usual way of checking the beef by squeezing works ok but the tenderloin is much squishier since it is being poached and therefore harder to gauge.
  9. I found 30 minutes was a perfect medium rare for the tenderloin I cooked but that time may vary a little depending on size. So be careful with your cooking time and don't be afraid to remove the beef to a plate, cover it and let it rest while everything else is finishing up.
  10. Remove the beef from the pot, let it rest covered then slice it into 1/2 inch medallions. Do not ladle hot stock over the top of the beef but instead ladle it on to the plate first. If you ladle it over the top it will cook the beef and it won't look as appealing. Place the medallions onto a platter surrounded by vegetables and and stock. Serve with Maldon salt and the mayonnaise on the side.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • cessi
  • jenniebgood

2 Reviews

cessi May 6, 2013
I am a serious beef lover, preferably seared in a hot cast iron pan and a perfect rosy red inside. I took a chance on this and it was a rare flop. I can think of many better uses for beef tenderloin. And I love a boiled dinner in any guise so was surprised this was so blah and such a waste of an expensive cut of meat.
jenniebgood April 11, 2012
Tom you write beautifully! I always look forward to your posts (and recipes)!