Poached beef tenderloin with spring root vegetables. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.


Another dish I love from Ruhlman’s Twenty, is perfect for early spring when the nights (here at least) are still cool. I love it for its counter-intuitiveness—boiled beef tenderloin? Actual poached to rare and served in cooking liquid flavored by the root vegetables (celery and beef are always a great pair). But what makes this dish special is the lemon vinaigrette, seasoned with garlic, cracked coriander seeds (it’s fine to leave some seeds whole, as they give an intriguing crunch and flavor burst), and the amazing umami ingredient, fish sauce. I began making a version of this in the early 1990s after reading a similar recipe in The New York Times, but I can’t seem to find it. It’s important to use fresh beef stock; anything else would ruin the elegant flavor and texture of the meat. The stock, which should be good to begin with, picks up the flavor of the beef and celery root and leeks to become an intensely flavorful broth served with the finished dish.


Beef Tenderloin Poached in Beef Stock with Root Vegetables

Serves 4

  • 1 teaspoon butter or oil
  • 2 fat leeks, trimmed, halved, thoroughly rinsed, and thinly sliced in 1-inch/2.5 centimeter pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 cups/960 milliliters fresh beef stock
  • 2 carrots, sliced or cut on the diagonal
  • 1 large potato, peeled and cut into large slices
  • 1 celery root, cut into large batons (like big French fries)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 slices beef tenderloin, each about 1/2 inch thick/12 millimeters thick, seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced cilantro


  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted and lightly cracked
  1. Make the vinaigrette in a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, garlic, and fish sauce. Let it sit for a few minutes so that the garlic has time to give up some of its strength. Whisk in the oil, then add the coriander seeds.
  2. Melt the butter in a 5-quart/4.7 liter pot over medium heat and sweat the leeks, adding a four finger pinch of salt. Add the stock and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Add the carrots and potato and simmer gently for 5 minutes or so. Add the celery root and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the beef, pressing it down into the stock so that it’s submerged. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook the beef just until rare, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide the leeks among 4 warm bowls. Distribute the root vegetables evenly, and top each serving with 3 pieces of beef. Stir the vinaigrette and spoon over the beef and vegetables. Garnish with the cilantro and serve.


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© 2016 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2016 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.