Cold Braised Beef

Boeuf Mode

Preparation info

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By James Peterson

Published 1991

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This home-style French dish is a model of simple, natural cooking, in which the braising liquid is served along with the cold beef. The dish can also be prepared in the same way using white wine instead of red; it is then called boeuf à la bourgeoise.

In rustic preparations of this dish, the carrots and onions used in the braising are returned to the gelée and constitute part of the garniture for the finished dish. In a restaurant, a new set of carrots and sometimes onions (pearl onions are most attractive) are simmered in the degreased braising liquid and used as the garniture.


fatback 7 oz 200 g
cognac ¼ cup 60 ml
parsley, chopped 1 small bunch 1 small bunch
garlic cloves, chopped 3 3
red wine 7 fluid oz 200 ml
onions, chopped coarsely 6 oz 175 g
carrots, 2 medium, chopped coarsely 8 oz 250 g
large bouquet garni 1 1
boneless rump roast 4 lb 1.8 kg
veal foot, split and halved crosswise (4 pieces) 1 1
vegetable oil 3 tbsp 45 ml
brown stock 1 qt 1 L
salt and pepper to taste to taste
carrots, sliced crosswise 4 medium 4 medium


  1. Cut the fatback into strips for larding. Combine the Cognac, parsley, and garlic, and marinate the fatback overnight in the mixture.
  2. (This marinating step is optional.) Combine the red wine, onions, chopped carrots, and the bouquet garni, and marinate the roast in the mixture for 6 hours. Drain the roast and pat it dry, reserving the marinade.
  3. Lard the roast in the direction of the grain with the strips of fatback.
  4. Blanch the veal foot pieces and rinse them in cold water. Preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C).
  5. In a 4-quart (4 liter) heavy-bottomed pot, brown the roast in the oil. Discard the oil and add the red wine, onions, chopped carrots, and bouquet garni (or the marinade), the veal foot, and the stock. The liquid should reach just to the top of the meat.
  6. Bring the liquid to a slow simmer, skimming any froth that floats to the surface. Cover the pot with a sheet of aluminum foil and then with a lid. Transfer to the oven and continue cooking for 4 hours or until the roast is easily penetrated with a skewer. Remove the lid and foil every 15 minutes and check to make sure the liquid is not boiling. If it starts to simmer, turn down the oven.
  7. Remove the roast from the pot and cover it with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.
  8. Strain the cooking liquid and carefully skim any grease from it. (The easiest way to do this is to let it set in the refrigerator overnight, removing the solidified grease when it is cold.) Reserve the veal foot pieces.
  9. If the gelée is too light or does not jell when it is cool, reduce it by one-fourth to one-third to concentrate its natural gelatin. When it sets to the correct consistency, season with salt and pepper.
  10. Strain the gelée through a fine chinois lined with a wet cloth napkin or a triple layer of cheesecloth.
  11. Simmer the sliced carrot rounds in the gelée until they are soft.
  12. Bone the cooked veal foot. Cut the gelatinous flesh into strips or cubes and stir into the gelée.
  13. When the braised beef has cooled, slice and layer it in a terrine with the carrots and barely melted gelée, chill to set, and slice or spoon out to serve (like an hure). Alternatively, mold the sliced beef and carrots in individual oval gratin dishes.


A larded and braised piece of beef assembled in a terrine with its natural gelée and aromatic garniture can be used as a model for an almost infinite variety of cold meat terrines and hures. The gelée can be flavored with wine, which can be added at the beginning of the braising or at the very end during the final flavoring of the gelée.

In a traditional boeuf mode, carrots and onions constitute the principal garnitures, but obviously these can be modified according to season, location, and occasion. A southern French or California version might be garnished with tomatoes (peeled, seeded, and salted to remove excess moisture), fennel (cut into wedges and precooked in braising liquid or stock), garlic cloves (peeled and poached), or wild mushrooms, for example.

The gelée almost always benefits from a generous quantity of freshly chopped herbs added while it is cooling. Parsley works beautifully, but chervil, tarragon, or a combination of classic fines herbes also works well.