A classic farmhouse dinner, Pot Au Feu is perhaps the most quintessential French dish there is. It isn’t fancy haute cuisine, though – it is as simple as can be, perfect for a weeknight meal for the family.
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Pot Au Feu
Whenever anyone thinks of French cuisine, the first thing they imagine is overwhelmingly fancy, intricately cooked little portions of wildly expensive foods.
This type of cooking, known as haute cuisine, is absolutely not what this recipe is about.
Sometimes described as the most basic and essential French peasant dish, this recipe combines cheap, tough meat and vegetables and turns it into a delicious, nutritious, and filling stew that is perfect for sharing with the whole family.
Why Is It Called Pot Au Feu?
Pot Au Feu translates to “pot on the fire” and is the most literal name possible for a dish like this.
Traditionally, this recipe could be customized to use up any kind of ingredient you can imagine, so long as it had some kind of cheap, connective tissue-filled piece of meat and whatever vegetables were available.
Everything would be bundled into a pot and cooked over the fire in the hearth until everything was tender, delicious, and flavorful.
Interestingly enough, the name of this recipe shares an origin with the name of those big bowls of smelly flowers that people put in their homes for decorative purposes – potpourri. Potpourri was originally the name of the method of cooking whereby all of the ingredients are cooked together as one.
What Other Cuts Of Meat Could You Use For This Recipe?
This recipe uses some brisket to form the meaty basis, as it is usually a fairly cheap cut in most places.
However, brisket isn’t cheap everywhere in the world – in places like the UK, for example, brisket can actually be pretty significantly expensive, comparable to other cuts of beef.
If you can’t get brisket cheaply, there are a bunch of other cuts of beef you could be used instead.
- Short Rib
The short rib is one of those cuts that most people don’t even really think about, which is why it tends to be pretty cheap.
If you can’t find other, meatier cuts, the short rib is perfect for this recipe. Fatty, rich in connective tissue, and it even comes with its own bone that can help flavor your broth!
- Shin Bone
Another rarely used cut, the shin cut, sometimes sold as the shin bone, is rich and decadent but takes a super long time to cook down to become delicious. Use this just like you would brisket, but keep in mind that it will take even longer to break down and become tasty.
Do You Have To Use A Marrow Bone?
Something a bit uncommon in this recipe is the use of a marrow bone, which is any cut of bone from an animal that still has its marrow inside it.
While it might be a bit of an inconvenience to have to buy a bone just for this recipe, it can really impact the flavor in significant ways.
Not only does the bone help to thicken and enrich the liquid, but the marrow makes everything have this silky, luxuriant texture. Plus, the marrow can be used to spread onto bread like butter, which is something that really needs to be tried at least once.
How Should You Serve Your Pot Au Feu?
Once cooked, this recipe is a bit like a wet stew, with plenty of chunky bits of meat and vegetables and a flavorful broth.
If you are just looking for convenience and using up fewer plates and bowls, then the smart thing to do would be to serve this dish as a regular stew. Simply scoop a little bit of each ingredient into bowls, making sure each bowl gets some of the beef and the vegetables and an equal amount of the broth, and then enjoy!
However, the traditional way to enjoy this recipe was to separate out the broth with the solids.
This is likely where the common tradition of eating a soup course before the main meal came from – you would drink the broth out of a bowl first, and then you would serve all of the meat and vegetables together in a different bowl.
You would also spread any marrow left in the marrowbone on some crusty bread with the broth as well!
This can result in the meat and veggies being a bit dry, however, so only do this if you are really wanting to be historically accurate.
Looking for more delicious Beef recipes? Try these out:
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Pot Au Feu
- Cook Time
- 4 hours
- Karlynn Johnston
- 2 lbs Beef brisket, rump or chuck roast
- ½ lb marrow Bone
- 10 cups cold water
- 1 carrot (diced)
- 1 stalk of celery (diced)
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 peppercorns
- 1 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 garlic clove crushed
- 1 sprig parsley
- 1 small turnip (quartered)
- 4 carrots (cut in half and then lengthwise)
- 1 onion (medium sliced)
- 2 stalks celery (halved)
- 1 whole onion (studded with 3 whole cloves)
- In a large pot add all the ingredients for the broth on a medium high heat.
- Heat until boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours uncovered. Skim off any foam frequently.
- Add in the rest of the fresh vegetables and simmer 50-60 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
- Serve hot.
- Traditionally this is served with the broth in mugs as a first course. The meat and vegetables are served after on a platter. You can also serve this all in one as a stew.
All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.