Pot au feu

This hearty French stew by Trish Deseine is traditionally served in two parts - a soup followed by the meat and vegetables - and is a great way to cook cheaper cuts of beef
By Trish Deseine
Pot au feu
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Cook Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Effort: medium


  • 1.5 kg piece shoulder or leg beef
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 300 g carrots, cut in to 4cm lengths and halved if very thick
  • 200 g turnips, peeled and left whole
  • 2 onions, whole, each studded with 2 cloves
  • 2 large leeks, white parts only, cut into 4 cm lengths
  • 12 medium potatoes, peeled and left whole

To serve

  • 4 x3 cm beef bone marrow, (optional)
  • French mustard
  • cornichons
  • coarse sea salt


1. Fill a very large stockpot half full with cold water, add the beef and salt and bring slowly to the boil.

2.When the water starts to boil, add 100ml of cold water. Use a slotted spoon to skim off the scum and fat on the surface and bring back to the boil.

3. Repeat this process 2 or 3 times (the more you do it, the clearer and lighter the final liquid).

4. Add the bouquet garni and all the vegetables, except for the potatoes, and leave to simmer very gently, uncovered, for 4 hours, skimming off the scum and fat as often as possible.

5. About 45 minutes before serving, boil the potatoes in a separate pan, drain and set aside.

6. If you are serving marrow bones, poach them very gently in a saucepan of barely simmering, salted water for 5-10 minutes, or until soft (alternatively roast them in a hot oven for 5-10 minutes or until they start to bubble).

7. To serve the pot au feu, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat and vegetables from the cooking liquor and transfer them into warm, large, deep serving dishes. Add some potatoes and a marrow bone to each dish.

8. Ladle the cooking liquor into soup bowls (for a very clear consommé, strain the cooking liquor through a muslin cloth first) and ladle a little of the remaining cooking liquor over the meat and vegetables.

9. Serve the consommé first, followed by the beef and vegetables, accompanied by mustard, cornichons and coarse sea salt.

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