26 April 2012

« Alouettes sans tête »

Yesterday I made the beef roll-ups that are called « alouettes sans tête » in French — "headless larks." Another name for them is simply "headless birds" — « oiseaux sans tête » — which some sources say is a Belgian term. And finally, they are called « paupiettes » or "roulades." You might find all these terms used interchangeably. And there are no actual larks on the ingredient list.

The recipe I made came from an idea that a Frenchwoman named Françoise left in a comment on my earlier post about turkey breast paupiettes. Françoise said that, in Provence, people cook thin slices of beef rolled up around a stuffing of pork, onions, garlic, and herbs. They cook them in tomato sauce with green olives. "The name of this dish is alouettes sans tête. Try it, it is delicious !" she wrote.

Making paupiettes for alouettes sans tête
So I did. I used the same pork, mushroom, and onion stuffing I had made for the turkey breast roll-ups and saved in the freezer, adding to it some chopped sun-dried tomatoes and green olives for extra flavor. Then I made the paupiettes by just spreading the stuffing on beefsteaks flattened with a meat pounder/tenderizer before rolling them up and tying them into little packets. I didn't think I needed to wrap them in strips of bacon this time.

Brown them in oil or butter
The next step is to brown the paupiettes in butter or oil, turning them so they brown on all sides. That takes about 10 minutes.

Pour on tomato sauce and let them simmer
When they are browned, add about a cup of good tomato sauce to the pan and let the paupiettes simmer in it for an hour or so, adding wine or water as needed to keep the sauce from drying out. You can let them simmer, covered, on top of the stove, or in the oven.

Alouettes sans tête with macaroni
We ate these alouettes sans tête with pasta, but they'd be good with polenta or even rice, I think. One per person is probably enough. Good bread, good red wine, and a nice green salad complete the meal.


  1. I didn’t have my breakfast yet and it makes me hungry. Those poor birds look terrific. I’m sure they are delicious too. Lucky you!

  2. Are they really as small as they look in the photo with the macaroni? Or were those just pieces in that photo? I had the impression they'd be more like the size of a fist, at least?

  3. CHM, luck is part of it, in that they turned out good. But it was work that made it happen!

    Judy, no, they are smaller than a fist. Each one weighed 4 to 5 oz. (125 to 150 grams). Depended on the size of the slice of steak. Approximately quarter-pounders, as it were.

  4. They do look excellent. Tainty little packages.
    Nothing like those hunks of German Rouladen.

    A great idea of mixing them into the pasta.

  5. H.P., I hope that by 'tainty' you mean 'dainty' (small and neat) and not 'tainted' (toxic)!

  6. See? ESL. Best excuse in the world.
    Of course I meant dainty.

    Two more month and our very own kitchen is up and running! Cannot wait.


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