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"Pot au Feu" (Pot on Fire)

The “pot au feu” (pot on the fire) is one of the emblematic dishes of the gastronomy’s meals from France. It is a dish of beef cooked at a very low heat in a broth flavored with vegetables and a “bouquet garni”.


At the start of the “pot au feu”, there is the word "pot", the culinary foundation of human civilizations, in which one cooks soups, sometimes enriched with a mixture of meats and vegetables. The denomination "potted meat" qualifies from the end of the 13th century a food boiled with water, in opposition to a roast food. The term "pot au feu" therefore refers, as is often the case, to the name of the receptacle: the "fire pot".

The appearance of “pot au feu” dates from the Neolithic and developed under the Roman Empire.

According to the French Encyclopedia of 1867, “pot au feu” is "the basis of our cooking, it is through it that our national cuisine is distinguished from all others." It provides both a soup (broth), boiled meat (usually beef) and vegetables.

Popular dish par excellence, the “pot au feu” symbolizes the unique meal of the poor. It was only from the 18th century that “pot au feu” became a major dish of bourgeois cuisine.


Alain Ducasse, famous starred Chef of French Gastronomy, reveals here one of his recipes.

Ingredients (Serve 4)

- Coarse salt

- Fleur de sel (or crushed salt if you do not have)

- Crushed Pepper

Before the start of the recipe: preparation of the meat

- 250 g of beef blade cut

- 250 g of beef cross cut blade steak

- 250 g of beef topside

- ½ oxtail beef

- 4 leeks

- 1 branch of thyme

- 1 bay leaf

- 2 yellow onions

- 2 cloves

Preparation and cooking of vegetables

- 500g of small turnips (or swedes if you can not find)

- 4 carrots

- ½ bunch of celery

- 500g of medium potatoes

- ½ celeriac

Finishes and presentation

- 3 cm horseradish

- French mustard

- Baby gherkins

- Baby onions in vinegar


Before starting the recipe: preparation of the meat 

Tie up the meat as for a roast, keeping a long length of rope. Peel and wash the leeks. Cut the green of the leeks and tide up with thyme and bay leaf as a “bouquet garni”. Peel the onions and stuff cloves in an onion.


Step 1: Meat Cooking


Put meat in a large saucepan and pour cold water to three-quarters. Bring to boil to blanch the meat. Drain and wash them with water. Put meat in a large clean saucepan. Add the “bouquet garni”, the onions and a ½ tablespoon of coarse salt. Bring to boil and skim. Drop the heat to a simmer and leave to cook for 2 hours 15 minutes while continuing to skim regularly.


Step 2: Preparing and Cooking Vegetables


Meanwhile, peel and wash the turnips, the carrots, the bunch of celery and the potatoes. Peel, wash the celeriac into four. Add all the vegetables into the saucepan with the meat after the 2hours and 15 minutes. Tie up the white leeks and add them too. Bring to boil and skim. Drop the heat to a simmer and leave to cook for 45 minutes.


Step 3: Finishes and presentation


Switch off the stovetop and wait around 10 minutes. With a small ladle, remove the fat off from the top. Remove the “bouquet garni” and put it in the bin. With a skimmer, remove meat and vegetables and put in a large dish.


Then grate 3 cm horseradish, season with salt and pepper. Pour a little bit hot stock (use a colander) into the dish. Present with a cup of “fleur de sel”, another with crushed pepper, French mustard, baby gherkins and small onions in vinegar.

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