A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to Lynne Rosetto Kasper on Splendid Table, and the subject was one of my favorite recipes: Beef on a String. Lynne was especially interested in it because the dish involves poaching, a technique we turn to all of the time for chicken and fish, but rarely for beef. And it's a shame. When you've got a full-flavored, aromatic and scorchingly hot bouillon, poaching a filet or rumpsteak for a crowd takes just 15 minutes and there's no fussing about who wants their meat rare, medium or well - the beef comes out of the pot very rare and you can change the degree of doneness by just pouring over some of the hot broth. It's kind of a ritzy pot-au-feu and, like pot-au-feu, you get the meat, the broth, the vegetables and the pleasure of dressing up your own plate with mustard or pickles or pepper or horseradish or anything else you like. As you'll read, this is the dish I make for New Year's Eve in Paris. Guests love it and I love that I get the broth to serve as soup the following day and plenty of leftover beef to turn into sandwiches, hachis parmentier (shepherd's pie) or my favorite beef salad, the one with capers, chopped up pickles and lots of black pepper.
The dish is basic and can be made to work very nicely with a whole chicken. Lose the beef bones and go for lots of vegetables and herbs and, if you want to be like most French cooks, a chicken bouillon cube! Tie up the chicken and poach it gently until done. If you'd like to get earthier still, stuff the chicken with bread and herbs, plenty of garlic and maybe some sausage meat.