Pot-au-feu (/ˌpɒtˈfɜːr/,[1] French: [pɔt‿o fø] ; lit.'pot on the fire') is a French dish of slowly boiled meat and vegetables, usually served as two courses: first the broth (bouillon) and then the meat (bouilli) and vegetables. The dish is familiar throughout France and has many regional variations. The best-known have beef as the main meat, but pork, chicken, and sausage are also used.

Pot-au-feu with typical accompaniments
TypeMain dish
Place of originFrance
Main ingredientsMeat and vegetables (typically, carrots, celery, leeks, onions and turnips)

Background edit

The Oxford Companion to Food calls pot-au-feu "a dish symbolic of French cuisine and a meal in itself";[2] the chef Raymond Blanc has called it "the quintessence of French family cuisine ... the most celebrated dish in France, [which] honours the tables of the rich and poor alike";[3] and the American National Geographic magazine has termed it the national dish of France.[4]

The Dictionnaire de l'Académie française dates the term pot-au-feu to the 17th century.[5] In 1600 the king of France, Henry IV, declared, "there shall be no peasant in my kingdom who lacks the means to have a hen in his pot."[n 1] A one-pot stew was a staple of French cooking, and the traditional recipe for poule-au-pot – also known as pot-au-feu à la béarnaise[7] – resembles that for pot-au-feu.[8][n 2]

One batch of pot-au-feu was maintained as a perpetual stew in Perpignan from the 15th century until World War II.[10]

Some pot-au-feu ingredients: potato, beef, leek, carrot, celery, turnip and onion

Ingredients edit

The main ingredient in most versions of pot-au-feu is meat. Many recipes specify more than one cut of beef to give both the broth and the cooked meat the required flavour and consistency. Elizabeth David writes that shin, because of its gelatinous properties, is good for the bouillon but produces a mediocre boulli, whereas a cut such as silverside cooks well for the boulli.[11] For a large pot-au-feu it is practicable to use both those cuts or a mixture of others. Paul Bocuse calls for six different cuts: blade, brisket, entrecôte, oxtail, rib and shin.[12] Some recipes add a marrow bone, to give marrow to spread on the bread served with the broth.[13] Some recipes add ox liver to improve the clarity of the broth.[14]

The inclusion of cabbage divides opinion; David comments that it is frequently encountered in France but in her view it "utterly wrecks" a pot-au-feu; Madame Saint-Ange takes a similar view.[n 3] Blanc, Édouard de Pomiane and Auguste Escoffier include it; Bocuse, Alain Ducasse and Joël Robuchon omit it,[3][12][16][17] as do Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle and Julia Child, authors of Mastering the Art of French Cooking.[18] As well as a bouquet garni – traditionally of parsley, thyme and bay[19] – an onion studded with cloves may be added to the pot.[2]

Cook/writer Meats Vegetables Ref
Beck, Bertholle and Child beef; pork; chicken; sausage carrots; leeks; onions; turnips [18]
Raymond Blanc ham hock; beef; bacon; sausage cabbage; carrots; celery; onions; turnips [3]
Paul Bocuse beef; veal; chicken carrots; celeriac; fennel; leeks; onions; parsnips; tomatoes; turnips [12]
Elizabeth David beef; veal; chicken giblets carrots; celery; leeks; onions; parsnip; pea pods; tomato; turnips [20]
Édouard de Pomiane beef rib; calf's head; Morteau sausage cabbage; carrots; leeks; turnips [21]
Alain Ducasse beef carrots; leeks; onions; turnips; potatoes [22]
Auguste Escoffier beef; necks, wings and gizzards of fowl (unspecified) cabbage; carrots; celery; leeks; turnips [23]
Larousse beef; chicken or duck or turkey cabbage; carrots; celery; leeks; turnips [7]
Joël Robuchon beef; veal; chicken; duck carrot tops; celery; leeks; onions; turnips or parsnips [17]
Madame Saint-Ange beef; necks, wings and gizzards of chicken carrots; celery; leeks; onions; parsnips; turnips [19]

Regional variations include:

  • pot-au-feu à l'albigeoise – with veal knuckle, salted pork knuckle, confit goose and sausage, in addition to beef and chicken.[7]
  • pot-au-feu à la béarnaise, also called Poule-au-pot– the basic pot-au-feu with a chicken stuffed with a forcemeat made of fresh pork and chopped ham, onion, garlic, parsley and chicken liver.[7]
  • pot-au-feu à la languedocienne – the basic pot-au-feu with the addition of a piece of fat bacon.[7]
  • pot-au-feu provençal – lamb or mutton replaces some of the beef.[24]
  • pot-au-feu aux pruneaux – the meats are beef and lightly-salted pork knuckle, cooked with the usual vegetables but adding prunes soaked in Armagnac.[25]
  • pot-au-feu madrilène – the meats are chicken, beef, veal, ham, bacon, chorizo sausage and boudin noir.[26]

Serving edit

Generally, the broth (bouillon) is served first. It is often enriched with rice or pasta, and croutons and grated cheese may be added, before it is served with French bread.[2] The meat (bouilli) and the vegetables are served next. Condiments may include, among other options, coarse salt, mustard, capers, pickled gherkins, pickled samphire and horseradish – grated or in a sauce.[27]

Sauces served with the bouilli may include tomato sauce, sauce Alsacienne (hard-boiled egg mayonnaise with herbs, capers and some of the bouillon), sauce Nénette (cream reduced by simmering and flavoured with mustard and tomato), or sauce Supréme (a velouté made with some of the bouillon and enriched with cream).[18]

Pot-au-feu broth may also be used for cooking vegetables or pasta. Ready-to-use concentrated cubes are available to make what purports to be pot-au-feu broth when water is added.[28][29][30]

Variants edit

Other countries have similar dishes with local ingredients. The Vietnamese dish pho has been said to be inspired by French cuisine in former French Indochina, with a possible etymology for the name being a phonetic respelling of the French feu.[31]

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ "N'y aura point de Laboureur en mon Royaume, qui n'ait moyen d'avoir une poule dans son pot."[6]
  2. ^ Such one-pot, slow-cooked stews were earlier called a "pot-pourri": the term dates to at least 1564 in Middle French, and indicated a dish of mixed meats.[9] The term, which was taken up in England in the 1600s, is related to the Spanish and Portuguese olla podrida.[9]
  3. ^ Saint-Ange and David suggest that if cabbage is to be served with a pot-au-feu it is cooked separately in a little of the bouillon from the main pot.[15]

References edit

  1. ^ "pot-au-feu". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.); and "pot-au-feu". Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Hyman, p. 626
  3. ^ a b c "Vive La France!" (PDF). Observer Food Monthly. No. 112. The Observer. February 2011. p. 26. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
  4. ^ "Top 10 National Dishes – National Geographic". Travel. 13 September 2011. Archived from the original on 14 October 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  5. ^ "pot-au-feu", Dictionnaire de l'Académie française. Retrieved 30 January 2023
  6. ^ Péréfixe, p. 549
  7. ^ a b c d e Montagné, pp. 904–905
  8. ^ La poule au pot farcie de "nouste Henric" du Béarn, Cuisine Collection. Retrieved 30 January 2023
  9. ^ a b "pot-pourri". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  10. ^ Prager, Arthur (1981). pot-au-feu-many-happy-returns.html "From, A pot-au-feu, Many Happy Returns". New York Times.
  11. ^ David, pp. 138–139
  12. ^ a b c pot-au-feu-paul-bocuse.html "Pot au feu de Paul Bocuse", Épicurien. Retrieved 1 February 2023
  13. ^ David, p. 139; and Escoffier, p. 216
  14. ^ David, p. 139
  15. ^ David, p. 139; and Saint-Ange, p. 83
  16. ^ De Pomiane, p. 113; Ducasse, p. 305; Escoffier, p. 216; Montagné, pp. 904–905
  17. ^ a b "pot-au-feu aux 5 viandes par Joël Robuchon". Pinterest. Retrieved 1 February 2023
  18. ^ a b c Beck et al, p. 324
  19. ^ a b Saint-Ange, pp. 81–83
  20. ^ David, p. 137
  21. ^ De Pomiane, p. 113
  22. ^ Ducasse, p. 305
  23. ^ Escoffier, p. 216
  24. ^ David, p. 142
  25. ^ "pot-au-feu aux pruneaux (recette bretonne)", Marmiton. Retrieved 1 February 2023
  26. ^ "pot-au-feu madrilène", Marmiton. Retrieved 1 February 2023
  27. ^ Montagné, p. 904; and pot-au-feu-367768 pot-au-feu, Bon Appetit Test Kitchen, epicutious.com. Retrieved 28 September 2021
  28. ^ pot-au-feu "InterMarche Express – Paris". Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  29. ^ pot-au-feu-maggi-7613033687914 "Carrefour online". Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  30. ^ pot-au-feu/ "ePURE, Épicerie Botanique". Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  31. ^ "pho". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)

Sources edit