Classic French Pot au Feu

Pot au feu recipe

​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic

  • Total: 4 hrs 40 mins
  • Prep: 25 mins
  • Cook: 4 hrs 15 mins
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings

When is a stew not a stew? When it is a pot au feu! This classic French comfort dish is stewed meats with vegetables, but the difference is the dish can be served in at least two if not three ways: The marrow is removed from the bone and spread on toast as a starter, the broth is served as a soup, and the meat is plated with the vegetables. It takes the better part of an afternoon to prepare, but is low maintenance and makes the house smell wonderful. You will need cheesecloth and kitchen twine for this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2-pound piece beef shank (with bone)
  • 2-pound piece beef chuck
  • 2 pounds beef ribs
  • 2 pounds large beef marrow bones
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 large white onion (peeled)
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 5 stalks celery (cut into large pieces, plus leaves)
  • 12 medium carrots (peeled and quartered)
  • 8 leeks (washed, cut lengthwise and then into large pieces)
  • 1 1/2 pounds turnips (peeled and quartered)
  • 1 1/2 pounds small new potatoes
  • 1 fresh or day-old baguette (sliced and toasted)
  • Garnish
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Cornichons
  • Mustard
  • Horseradish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for pot au feu
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  2. Tie the beef shank, chuck, and ribs into a tight bundle with kitchen twine and place it in a large stockpot.

    Tie beef shank
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  3. Wrap the marrow bones in cheesecloth, secure it tightly with the string, and place it in the stockpot.

    Wrap marrow bones
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  4. Pour enough cold water into the stockpot to cover the ingredients.

    Pour water in stockpot
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  5. Bring the mixture to a boil, skimming often.

    Bring mixture to a boil
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  6. Turn the heat down as soon as the water boils, so it is just a low simmer.

    Boil
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  7. Push the cloves into the onion and wrap the bouquet garni, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and bay leaves in a piece of cheesecloth. Place the onion and the bundle into the stockpot.

    Boil
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  8. Season the mixture with the salt and continue simmering, uncovered, for 2 1/2 hours. Add more water, if needed, to keep the meat and marrowbones covered. Do not allow the mixture to boil.

    Season the mixture
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  9. Wrap the celery, carrots, leeks, turnips, and potatoes each in a separate cheesecloth bundle, securing them tightly with string.

    Wrap celery, carrots, leeks
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  10. Add the celery, carrots, leeks, and turnips to the pot and continue simmering for 40 minutes.

    Add vegetables to pot
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  11. Check the vegetables for doneness, and then remove any that have turned tender and cooked through.

    Check vegetables
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  12. Add the potato bundle to the pot and continue simmering for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through.

    Add potato bundle
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  13. Remove each vegetable and meat bundle from the pot, unwrap it, and arrange the vegetables in groups around the meat on the serving platter. Keep warm.

    Remove each vegetable
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  14. Discard the clove-studded onion and strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve.

    Discard onion
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  15. Return the broth to a clean saucepan and bring it to a boil for about 10 to 15 minutes, until it has reduced in volume and has a good, strong flavor. Season it with additional salt, if needed.

    Return broth to pot
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  16. Transfer the hot broth to a serving bowl and offer as soup. Spread the marrow on the slices of toasted bread (called croûtes) and serve as an appetizer or alongside the broth. Present the meat and vegetable platter as the main course with small bowls of the garnishes on the side.

    Pot au feu
    ​The Spruce / Katarina Zunic
  17. Enjoy!

Tips

The bone marrow is the fatty, soft tissue inside the cavity of the bone; it is prized for its rich flavor and smooth texture, as well as its nutritional value. To use the marrow, scoop it out of the bone and simply spread on the toast or whip the marrow first to make a creamier consistency.

You can also use the broth as a base for sauces or the liquid when cooking rice, pasta, and vegetables.

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