Ficelle in French means “string.”
The term “à la Ficelle” is used to describe several cooking techniques.
Boeuf à la Ficelle
Boeuf à la Ficelle is a boiled dinner or a poached piece of beef. It is a very rich and flavourful dish.
You make a good stock first, so that the beef can absorb the flavour of the stock. A typical stock base is carrots, leeks, turnips, and a bouqet garni.
The beef used can be fillet, rump, sirloin, etc.
You tie a string around the beef, and suspend it in the pot of stock so that it does not touch the bottom of the pan. Tie it in such a way that you end up with two long strands of string as ends that you can tie around a wooden spoon suspended over the pot.
Simmer 35 minutes per kg (2 1/4 pounds) of beef.
Slice the beef to serve. Serve it with small boiled or steamed potatoes, gherkins, mustard, watercress, horseradish, etc.
You finish the meal by having a bowl of the broth.
Poulet à la ficelle
Poulet à la ficelle is a chicken trussed up by and hung from a string over a low burning fire in a hearth, etc
You brush the chicken from time to time with olive oil, and give it occasional spins, so that it will slowly turn. The cooking time is about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Legs of lamb and hams can be cooked in the same fashion (ham is “jambon à la ficelle.”)
Andouillettes “à la ficelle”
This is thick strips of intestine, tied into bundles with string, and simmered.
You use 2/3 large intestine (“chaudin”) and 1/3 stomach “panse.”
The meat is cleaned and blanched, then cut into strips, seasoned (seasoning varies) and lined up on a work surface. You then tie it with string in mixed bundles of intestine and stomach. You salt it, and either let sit for a few hours, or cook directly.
You simmer the bundles in water for several hours with various vegetables and herb to flavour the broth. Remove the bundles, strain the both, put the broth back in the pot, bring it to a boil, then take it off the heat and put the andouillettes back in. Let sit for several hours to get cold, during which time the andouillettes can absorb more of the flavour of the broth.
After this, the andouillettes can be further cooked for appearance and flavour by sautéing, baking, etc.
Wine à la ficelle
You pay for only what you drink from a bottle of wine. Some say the measuring used to be done using a piece of string with knots in it. This is also called wine “au compteur.”