It was a French chef who said that a Pot au Feu was one of France’s greatest dishes. To me it has been a very nice way to feed plenty of people a dish of boiled meat with plenty of available vegetables. It is certainly not a stew as the clear liquid forms almost the main part of the dish. I suppose that a Pot au Feu is a peasant’s title. The upper class description would be Une Petite Marmite – being a French dish in which all the ingredients are boiled for several hours. Look at a pot of Marmite and you will see an illustration of the proper French pot.
POT AU FEU
You will need:
Meat in the form of brisket and possibly a bit of ox tail
Vegetables of your choice, like:
The white of leeks
Celery and more of the root variety if available
In an iron casserole place the meat (see above). Now add the vegetables cut up into large bite-size pieces. Add beef stock (cubes are fine) to cover. Salt and pepper it.
Bring the liquid to the boil and turn down the heat to keep the dish cooking for two hours or more depending on the cut of beef. Soon after the liquid reaches boiling point, some scum will appear on the surface. Spoon it off, or, as Mrs Beaton said: “scum it off as anything rises” – or something like that.
If you can make this dish the day before wanted, fat will rise to the surface overnight and can be scraped off and discarded.
When ready to eat, extract the meat and carve it up for the plates. Then I like to place the Marmite on the table with a ladle for guests to help themselves to cover the meat with the vegetables and liquor.
This is a splendid dish for lots of people, and is, anyhow, best made in quantity.