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I'm looking to make boeuf a la ficelle as part of Christmas dinner this year, but am struggling to find a consensus on the execution.

In the Les Halles Cookbook the recipe says to add the beef to water (alongside vegetables and bouquet garni). Other recipes online appear to add a bouillon cube to the water, or make up bouillon and add the vegetables and beef directly.

Is there any consensus on the right/best method? Anthony Bourdain says on pretty much every other recipe in the book to use a good homemade stock, so if it is bouillon the beef and vegetables need to go into it seems a pretty glaring omission...

I also have some guests that prefer well done beef to rare - recipes online say that the cooking liquid can be ladled over rarer slices to cook through - how effective is this?

Finally - is it worth blasting the exterior of the beef after it has been in the cooking liquid and before resting to establish a darker crust?

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  • Hm. Vegetables plus a bouquet garni reads like a quick stock to me? Have you considered that?
    – Stephie
    Dec 18, 2021 at 21:59
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    it all depends, what you understand by Boeuf a la ficelle, which covers a quite wide range of different cuts and recipes, starting from oxtail cooked in boillon to the rolled rib roast cooked in the oven, where you use the bouillon to pour on the meet periodically to make it more tender
    – Vickel
    Dec 19, 2021 at 1:34
  • I suppose it does become a quick stock. From the answer below, I'm going to throw in a bouillon cube just to give it a boost. I'm using a 1kg beef tenderloin, alongside some root vegetables. Dec 19, 2021 at 18:04

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"Is there any consensus on the right/best method"

As long as you start with good ingredients, using either bouillon or stock will both impart good flavour to the meat.

"cooking liquid can be ladled over rarer slices to cook through - how effective is this?"

This technique is used for Vietnamese Pho, so as long as the broth is boiling hot and the meat is cut thin enough then YES it does work. If you think that the way you are making the beef is by boiling in liquid, this is simply an extension of that.

"is it worth blasting the exterior of the beef after it has been in the cooking liquid and before resting to establish a darker crust?"

Since the meat is boiled it does not have a "dark crust" at all, so YES basting with hot fat/oil will make it darker than it would have been.

If you mean "blasting" as in with a blowtorch, it may get some colour, but a quick brush with oil would be helpful for that too.

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    There’s a difference between “blasting” (applying high heat, e.g. with a kitchen torch) and “basting” (pouring cooking liquid or fat over the food). You may want to consider that in your answer.
    – Stephie
    Dec 18, 2021 at 21:57
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    i thought it was a spelling mistake. thanks for the heads up.
    – Mr Shane
    Dec 18, 2021 at 22:21
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    Excellent, thanks for your help - I did mean blasting as in to apply high heat to the exterior - sear in a hot pan or with a torch. Dec 19, 2021 at 18:02

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