Pot au feu is a traditional French dish which in fact provides two dishes from the one recipe.
The first dish is made with the meat and vegetables and served the same day and the second dish made with the beef bouillon is served the next day. So it is a very economical dish.
The quantities here are for eight people but of course you can either halve the amount of ingredients if you need a smaller version. It makes a great dish for entertaining and can be the topic of conversation!
You will have a good stock or beef bouillon from this pot au feu recipe which you can freeze it until you want to use it.
The meat used should consist of two cuts of meat such as: Lean brisket, leg of beef, oxtail, blade bone, leg of mutton. One of the pieces of meat should be a good lean piece and one on the bone. Ask your butcher for 3 bones as well, which will enhance the bouillon.
2 k/4½ lbs meat – see notes above
3 cracked bones
40 g/1½ oz salt
450 g/1 lb carrots
350 g/12oz leeks
1 head of celery
1 small turnip
2 medium onions
1 sprig parsley
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic
Place the meat and beef bones into a very large heavy bottomed pan.
Add the water to cover the meat.
Add salt and pepper.
Bring this slowly to boiling point.
Skim off the frothy scum as it forms with a slotted spoon.
Cut the carrots and leeks into 2 inch pieces and tie in bundles.
Trim the outer leaves from the celery and quarter through the length from root end then chop into 3 inch pieces and tie into small bundles.
Stick the onions with a clove and place them in the pot.
Quarter the turnip and add to the pot.
Add the herbs.
As soon as the liquid is simmering cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook for at least 4-5 hours. It is often left simmering all day on a very, very low heat. The lid may be lifted once or twice to ensure the liquid is covering the meat, add a cup of water if needed.
To serve your pot au feu, remove the meat and drain.
Cut into thick slices and surround it with the vegetables.
It is good served with coarse crystal salt and French mustard.
The pot au feu bouillon can be served for another meal, so at this stage, simply leave in the pan to go cold. Remove any fat which will have solidified on the top.
Reheat to boiling and pour into warm soup dishes or cups and serve with crusty French bread or toast.
Another idea which is very tasty is to add small diced vegetables to the bouillon and cook for about an hour before serving.
For a tasty chicken version of this recipe try poule au pot which again is great for family meals and entertaining.