Pot au feu...

My parents took over the cooking duties for last Sunday's Dead & Dinner since I'd had surgery.  My parents are amazing cooks and Sunday's dinner proved it.  They made Julia Child's recipe for Pot au feu, which is a traditional French stew of vegetables and beef.  My kitchen smelled like a French bistro and we all went back for seconds!

Here is the recipe if any of y'all would like to try it!  As Julia Child would say, Bon Appetit!

The Recipe (Serves 16)
4 pounds boned beef—a combination of two or more of the following: brisket, shoulder, chuck and top rib.
2 pounds shin of beef, with bone (All of the meats above should have excess fat removed and be tied up in string by the butcher to prevent their falling apart during cooking.)
8 chicken livers plus 2 pounds optional necks, gizzards, poultry scraps and/or carcasses
1 4-pound piece of pork from the butt, picnic, rolled shoulder
1 4-pound stewing hen (if unavailable use a roasting chicken but only cook for 1 hour.)
Optional: 1 veal knuckle bone, 2 pounds beef or veal bones and/or 1 large marrow bone
Soup Vegetables:
3 medium yellow onions, peeled and each one stuck with 1 whole clove
3 carrots, peeled
3 ribs celery
2 parsnips, peeled
2 whole leeks, washed
1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in half
1 bouquet garni
1 2-pound piece of mild, lightly smoked country or Polish sausage
Approximately 12 cups of room temperature beef or chicken stock, or a mixture (enough to cover the meat by six inches)
2 teaspoons kosher salt or sea salt
Garnish Vegetables:
5 very large carrots, 5 large leeks, 3 large parsnips, 3 medium turnips, all washed, chopped and trimmed.
1 large yellow onion, chopped and sautéed in butter or olive oil until brown
1 small white cabbage, trimmed, cut into wedges and boiled until tender
10 medium boiled peeled potatoes, halved after cooking
1 small bunch fresh chervil tied up in cheesecloth (optional) 

1. Place bones in bottom of a stockpot or Dutch oven large enough to comfortably hold all the ingredients. Place chicken livers on top along with optional poultry giblets, scraps, and carcasses. Tie a long piece of kitchen string securely around each piece of beef and pork and also around the hen and add each one to pot on top of the bones, leaving the strings hanging over the side of the pot. Cut strings short enough not to catch fire. Add stock -- and water if necessary -- to cover by 6 inches.

2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately turn down to a simmer and add salt. A thick gray scum will accumulate on the surface.

3. When scum is thick and compact, remove with a slotted spoon. Remove any scum stuck to sides of pot. Add ½ cup of cold water to stop the simmering. The water will return to a simmer and more scum will rise up. Skim it off and repeat this process for 15 minutes or until only a bit of white froth remains. Add soup vegetables, bouquet garni and sausage. Continue simmering for 30 minutes. Transfer sausage to a bowl large enough for all the soup solids - meats and vegetables -- later on. At this point, check the chicken. When done, transfer it to the bowl with the sausage. Cook the other meats 2 hours more.

4. While meats are cooking, tie garnish vegetables in 1 or more cheesecloth "packages" to facilitate getting them in and out of the pot.

5. After meats and bones have cooked 2½ hours total, check doneness. As ready, transfer each piece of meat that is done to the bowl with the sausage, and moisten with several ladlefuls of cooking liquid. Continue simmering until all meats are meltingly tender.

6. Add garnish vegetable "packages" to cook with remaining meat or with just the bones if all the meat is done, about 20 minutes. When done, transfer packages to a platter to cool. When rest of the meat is done, add it to bowl. Cover and refrigerate.

7. Discard large bones and any small bones that have come loose during cooking. Strain cooking liquid and discard bouquet garni, soup vegetables, and any other solids in the strainer. Reserve broth. When cool, cover, refrigerate for several hours and then degrease. If possible, wait 24 to 48 hours before step 8.

8. To continue, simmer degreased broth with the sautéed onion for 5 to 10 minutes until reduced and intensely flavorful. Adjust seasonings and reheat meat, chicken, sausage, garnish vegetables, cabbage, and potatoes in reduced broth.

9. Remove and discard strings and cheesecloth. Carve chicken and slice meats and place in the middle of a hot serving platter. Surround meats with vegetables grouped by color, and heap cabbage to one side.
10. Serve the potatoes separately with a dusting of chopped fresh parsley, chervil, or chives for color as well as taste. Pass any sauces of your choice (mustards or whipped heavy cream with horseradish are nice) as well as pitcher of broth to moisten meat, vegetables and potatoes.


Thanks so much for popping in. I appreciate all of your lovely comments...Tricia