Originally Pot au Feu meant an earthenware or a metal cooking pot. Today, it is a common French dish and to me the ultimate winter comfort food. It is very easy to prepare and economical, low cost cuts can be used. It can be prepared in 15 minutes, then simmers all afternoon long filling the house with a marvelous aroma. Several cuts of meat can be used but preferably cartilaginous cuts such as oxtail and marrowbone (I got a beautiful beef shank marbled with cartilage). My mother always combines veal & beef cuts.
Equivalent dishes are: the New England boiled dinner, consisting of corned beef or a ham shoulder, & the Irish corn beef and cabbage.
There are many variations and they are all good, the only one rule is too cook it long enough. What I really like about the French version is the cleanness of the taste. Unless it is homemade, I don’t eat much corn beef, the prepared ones at the store are usually too salty, full of m.s.g and other preservatives. I have added Jerusalem Artichokes in this version, it is unusual and it was a test —the main reason being that I had some in the fridge but I didn’t have any potatoes at hand. No regrets! It added a subtle layer of flavor, I will do it again!
I was curious to price my Pot of Feu –which lasted for three meals. I did the shopping at the Park Slope Food Coop.
1 (1.42lb) Grass fed Beef Shank bone $6.13
3 small organic carrots carrots $0.55
1 organic turnip $0.31
2 organic leeks $1.37
3 Jerusalem Artichokes $1.85
already in my pantry:
3 ribs of Celery
3 cloves ( stick them onto the peeled onion)
4 peppers grains 1 teaspon of corse sea salt
Whole grain mustard (moutarde à l’ancienne)
Put the meat, the vegetables (except the potatoes &/or the Jerusalem artichoke) & the spices into the pot and cover with cold water.
Bring to a boil and let simmer gently for 2 to 3 hours. The meat as to be really tender. 1/2 hour before the end of the cooking add the potatoes and/or the Jerusalem artichokes.
Strain the broth onto a soup tureen and have the soup as a first course. If you wish you can add vermicelli or small pasta onto the broth.
Don’t forget to eat the marrow! blow out the marrow from the bone onto a piece of bread, sprinkle with sea salt. YUMMY!
Serve meat, veggies & condiments & Bon Appetit!
[ Pierre’s addendum: & don’t forget to tell your readers that when you have slurped your way through the soup & there is just a little left at the bottom of your plate, you add a good rasade — shot — of red wine, mix it with the soup, put down your spoon, raise the plate with two hands & slurp the mixture down with audible slurping satisfaction noises. It’s called “faire chabrot” which means etymologically “to drink like a goat.” It’s a total pleasure.]