Roast Beef, Shallot Compote, Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes Recipe

Filet de Boeuf, Compotée d'Echalottes, Rattes au Romarin

[Roast Beef, Shallot Compote, Rosemary Fingerling Potatoes]

While planning for our Saturday night dinner, I conducted a little research to find out what was best to eat with Baptiste’s bottle of St Julien. My sources were comfortingly unanimous. Red meat, roasted, was the card to play. I chose to roast a filet de boeuf, a very tender beef cut, and serve it with a shallot compote and roasted rosemary potatoes. The meat was promptly ordered at our favorite butcher’s, La Boucherie des Gourmets in the rue Lepic.

As you will infer from the many comments in the roast recipe, I am really not a meat specialist. Steaks, ribs, chops and other single-serving cuts I can handle, but I tend to be a little intimidated by big slabs of meat (both in the literal and figurative sense), and I don’t have a lot of experience cooking them. It always seems to involve a lot of complex techniques I shy away from – brining, basting, probing, stuffing – and I don’t even own a meat thermometer. But I’m more than willing to play with the big guys and learn. Especially when it turns out as well as this…

And without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, here are the recipes.

Shallot Compote

– 500 g shallots (weighed unpeeled)
– 50 to 100 g cassonade (brown sugar) depending on the natural sweetness of the shallots
– 2 TBSP butter
– salt, pepper

(Serves 6.)

Peel the shallots and chop them (I use the vegetable slicing mode of my food processor for a quick and perfect result). In a large saucepan, heat up the butter on medium heat until bubbly. Add the shallots and stir to coat with butter. Reduce the heat to low. Add salt and pepper, 50 g of sugar, and stir again.

Leave on low heat, covered, for about an hour and a half, until the shallots are very soft, stirring from time to time to check on the progress. About an hour into the cooking, taste and correct with sugar, salt and/or pepper to get the desired effect – you may want it more or less sweet depending on what you want to serve it with.

This can be made a day ahead, and reheated over low heat before serving.


Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

– 1 kg fingerling potatoes (I used the Rattes du Touquet variety)
– a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
– 4 cloves of pink garlic
– olive oil
– salt, pepper

(Serves 6.)

Preheat the oven to 220°C (430°F).

Wash and scrub the potatoes. Cut them in chunks of equal size. Wash and dry the rosemary. Peel the garlic cloves, slice them verticaly in half, and remove the germ. In a large bowl, toss together the potatoes, the garlic, the rosemary leaves, a few splashes of olive oil, salt and pepper.

Line a gratin dish with a piece of foil large enough to be folded back over its content. Pour the potatoes and seasoning in, and close the foil into an airtight packet. Put in the oven for 45 minutes. After that time, take it out, toss and check for doneness. Depending on the heat of your oven and the size of your potato chunks, another 10 to 20 minutes may be needed. The potatoes can be made ahead of time up to this step.

Before serving, put the potatoes back into the hot oven to crisp, foil packet open, for 15 to 20 minutes.

This cooking method allows the potatoes to cook in their own steam, retaining their moistness, while infusing with garlic and rosemary flavors. I also love the slight crust that they develop during the last stage of cooking, and the contrast between the tender flesh and the slightly wrinkled skin.


Filet de Boeuf

– a 1 kg Filet de Boeuf (net weight), bardé et ficelé *
– the meat scraps from the roast (you should get 200 g for a 1 kg filet) **
– 70 g butter
– 1/2 C of beef stock
– chopped flat-leaf parsley
– salt, pepper

(Serves 6.)

* Filet de Boeuf is a very tender cut of beef, held in a log shape by string (ficelé), the bottom and sides wrapped in lard for flavor (bardé). There are a lot of differences between the French school of butchery and all others, so I’m not sure what a non-French equivalent would be, a beef roast, probably.

** You’ll have to ask the butcher, although you pay for them anyway, since the price per weight is before preparation. Interesting observation : an article I had cut out about filet de boeuf called these scraps of meat the “parures“, meaning “finery”. My butcher calls them the “déchets”, which means “garbage”. I kept calling them parures throughout my conversation with him. I am not buying the butcher’s garbage if I can help it, thank you.

Preheat the oven to 220°C (430°F).

In a large skillet, heat up a third of the butter over high heat. When it’s nice and hot, put the roast in and quickly brown it all over in about two minutes.

Put the roast in an oven proof dish as close to the meat in size as possible. Put the meat in to roast for about 20 minutes. While this is cooking, add the rest of the butter, the beef stock and the scraps of meat in the skillet. Cook until you get all the juice out of the scraps, and until you get the desired sauce consistency. Remove the scraps, set the juice aside and keep warm.

Take the roast out, cover it with two sheets of foil, and let it rest on the counter for another 10 minutes. This allows the meat to keep cooking without drying up and concentrates the juices. Now is a good time to put the rosemary potatoes in the oven to crisp.

Put the roast on a cutting board, and (have your boyfriend) cut it in thin slices. They will be very rare, which is the one and only way to truly appreciate excellent meat.


Plating and comments

In each plate (preferably heated beforehand), serve two slices of meat, a few spoonfuls of shallot compote, and a little mound of potatoes. Pour juice on the meat, sprinkle parsley, and serve with old-fashioned mustard.

We all liked this very much, the proof of the pudding being that the boys went for seconds, then thirds. The meat was incredibly tender, so tender in fact that you didn’t need your knife, you could just cut it with a fork. The potatoes and shallots were excellent sides, sweet and soft and flavorful. More importantly, all this together did turn out to be a very good match for the wine‘s rich taste.

And the observant reader will have noticed that the recipes serve six, although there were only four of us. It’s not because we are ogres, it’s because I wanted Maxence and I to have nice leftovers to enjoy for lunch today. Which we did. And they were. Very nice.

  • Congratulations on a lovely dinner, Clotilde. I too tackled a roast beef this weekend (top sirloin, seared quickly then slow-roasted on a bed of onions) and it came out quite well.

    I would LOVE to try an official “filet de boeuf” since it sounds more tender than your standard American roast. Yum!

    And yes, we have DAYS of leftovers.

  • Il y a aussi une excellente boucherie pres du 18° sur l’avenue de Saint Ouen, spécialisée dans la viande de Porc, il s’apelle Leautey.
    Il y a aussi des spécialités de Jambon qui valent le coup pour organiser des raclettes originales et dignes de ce nom.

  • Wow, this looks fantastic — I can almost feel my back teeth sinking into that rare meat! I used to cry (seriously) when I was little, because my dad would eat his steaks very rare and I had seen on TV that you’d die if you did that. Now I wouldn’t have mine any other way.

  • Frankenstein

    What you’re describing sounds a lot like what Americans call a beef tenderloin — the cut of beef that yields chateaubriand and filet mignon.

    Sounds yummy…

  • Jenny – great minds think and cook alike! :) And roast beef leftovers are just the best…

    Arlequin – merci pour la recommandation! C’est vrai que la saison des raclettes bat son plein, et qu’avec du bon fromage du fromager et de l’excellente charcuterie, c’est un vrai délice!

    Jackie – aaah those irrational fears you have when you’re little, so moving! Does your dad know about this one?

    Paul – tenderloin, you’re probably right, that sounds familiar! So is “roast beef” the general term for beef cooked that way, and not a cut of meat?

  • Frankenstein

    Yeah, “roast beef” generally refers to any large cut of beef cooked in an oven, though I’ve never seen an American butcher tie lard to the sides of a roast, in the French style.

    It’s relatively rare for the tenderloin to be cooked whole, as it’s a pretty pricey piece of beef and butchers can usually make more money cutting it up and selling it as filets.

    The classic beef roast is the bone-in rib roast, sometimes called standing rib roast. Butchers will occasionally trim the ribs, so that they’re sticking out of the roast cleanly; that’s called a French rib roast.

  • clotilde

    Paul – thanks a lot for the “meat cuts 101”, I sure have lots to learn in this area! I think I know what you mean by French rib roast, I’ve seen it in the US. I’m not sure what’s French about it, I don’t remember being served that kind of roast here, but then again what’s French about the fry, the windows or even the kiss? :)

  • Lata

    Hi Clotilde!

    I tried the recipe. I couldn’t get filet “barde” since the butcher’s in the U.K. don’t do this. I asked for some fat & did it myself. I remember what it’s supposed to look like when I admire all the different cuts of meat at the boucherie whenever I visit France (I couldn’t get the “parures” though).

    The whole meal was so simple to prepare but tased great even without the “parures” and the juice was really nice. The smell of the potatoes took me back to Rue Daguerre (Montparnasse) on market day. I noticed my neighbour lingering outside my kitchen window, pretending to wash his car!

    There were no leftovers with this meal!!! Thanks a lot for the recette – I loook forward to trying the other ones.


    P.S. I’d love to do a Patisserie course in France. I’m 50 and I don’t really want to spend 2 years doing the CAP. Do you know any shorter courses available? Any suggestions will be much appreciated!!

  • Wonderful recipe, I made it for clients of my cooking service.. But why in the world would anyway nowadays instruct us to “have our boyfriend” slice the beef? Really?

    • That comment was simply meant to express that, in my case, my boyfriend did the slicing.

  • Masboyzz Boyzz
  • Masboyzz Boyzz

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