When is a stew, not a stew, when it is a Pot au Feu? But "no," you say, "Pot of Feu is a stew", and you would not be wrong. It is stewed meats with vegetables, but the difference here is, the dish can be served in at least two if not three ways. The marrowbone is removed and served on toast as a starter; the broth as soup, and finally, the meat served with vegetables.
This pot au feu recipe is a classic French comfort dish. It takes the better part of an afternoon to prepare, but is low maintenance and makes the house smell wonderful.
- 2 pound piece of beef shank, with bone
- 2 pound piece of beef chuck
- 2 pounds beef ribs
- 2 pounds large beef marrowbones
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 large white onion, peeled
- 1 bouquet garni
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 stalks celery plus leaves, cut into large pieces
- 12 medium carrots, peeled and quartered
- 8 leeks, washed, cut lengthwise and then 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 into croûtes
- Coarse sea salt
Tie the beef shank, chuck, and ribs into a tight bundle with the string and place it in the stockpot. Wrap the marrow bones in the cheesecloth, secure it tightly with the string, and place it in the stockpot. Pour enough cold water into the stockpot to cover the ingredients.
Bring the mixture to a boil, skimming often. Immediately the water boils, turn the heat down, so it is just a low simmer. Push the cloves into the onion and place it into the stockpot, along with a separate cheesecloth bundle containing the bouquet garni, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Season the mixture with the salt and continue simmering it, uncovered, for 2 1/2 hours. Add water, if needed, to keep the meat and marrowbones covered. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
Wrap the celery, carrots, leeks, turnips, and potatoes each in a separate cheesecloth bundle, securing them tightly with string. Add the celery, carrots, leeks, and turnips to the pot and continue simmering for 40 minutes. Check the vegetables for doneness, and then remove any that have turned tender and cooked through. Add the potato bundle to the pot and continue simmering for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through. Remove each vegetable and meat bundle from the pot, unwrap it, and arrange the vegetables in groups around the meat on the serving platter.
Discard the clove-studded onion and strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve. Return the broth to a clean saucepan and bring it to 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. Transfer the hot broth to a serving bowl alongside the meat and vegetable platter. Don't forget to serve the marrow croûtes.