For those of us living in the northern hemisphere, winter is definitely here. With the shorter days, blustering winds, occasional snow, and sub-zero temperatures, this kind of climate calls for food of a heartier kind that warms both body and soul. So earlier this week, with that in mind, I made pot au feu, a traditional French beef stew and also the origin and inspiration behind the much loved Vietnamese phở noodle soups (also pronounced the same way). Not only is pot au feu hearty, but it lends itself well to communal eating as well… if you wish.
At its heart, pot au feu is made from stewing a combination of different cuts of meats and bone. It’s up to you what you use, there really isn’t a wrong way. Select both fatty and leaner cuts of meat, along with cartilaginous bone and you’ll have a great pot au feu on your hands. You’ll also be using seasonal root vegetables to round out your stew. Again, it’s up to you what you put in. I like the combination of carrots, turnip, and onions – potatoes and celery are also popular additions.
Ingredients: (serves 4-5)
- 1 lbs. of beef shoulder roast (preferably with the bone), leave whole
- 1 lbs. of beef round roast, leave whole
- 1 oxtail and or 3-5 pieces of bone marrow
- 0.75 lbs. of beef sirloin or other lean meat, leave whole
- 7 small to medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and coarsely chopped
- 2 large turnips or 4 to 5 small turnips, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 medium spanish onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 leek (the white part only), coarsely chopped
- 1 bouquet garni made with thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves (Go easy on the rosemary as a little goes a long way. You should have a loose bundle of mainly thyme with about 8 to 10 small to medium stems, 1 to 2 stems of rosemary, and about 2 to 3 bay leaves, depending on the size of your leaves.)
- 4 cloves or 1/2 a teaspoon of ground cloves if you don’t have the full ones
- 1 tablespoon of sea salt
- coarsely ground pepper, to taste