Pot au feu is the quintessential winter stew – and so easy to make. Today,  I woke up early and washed and cut the leeks, onions and carrots. In the slow-cooker, I put a layer of leeks and carrots, then two large pieces of stew meat. I added two onions, quartered, and finished by packing the remainder of space with small potatoes. Then I scattered a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme over it, added water until barely covered, and set my slow cooker for 9 hours. When I came home from work, dinner was ready! All I had to do was warm the baguette in the oven, and voila! 

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You can use brisket, short rib, ox tails, or any  mix of cheap cuts of meat. One lean and fibrous one, plus a gelatinous one is a good mix.  I add a bouillon cube or two, depending on the amount of water, and that means I don’t salt it as it cooks.  Use leeks, carrots, turnips, potatoes, parsnips – any winter veggie is good. But some take longer to cook than others. You can add pumpkin or squash cubes – as long as you add those last so they don’t turn to mush. You can also add cabbage – but don’t over cook it!

The French almost always add a marrow bone or two to pot-au-feu. The cooked marrow, which you coax from the bone, is delicious; it tastes rich and meaty but has the consistency of soft butter. Try some spread on toast, served with the pot-au-feu broth, topped with a sprinkle of sea salt.

Here are the details on using marrow bones in pot-au-feu:
• Use about 2 lb. beef marrow bones, crosscut by the butcher into 3- to 4-inch pieces
• Add the bones for the final 30 to 60 minutes of cooking.
• Remove the bones from the pot-au-feu when you remove the meat.
• Spread it on toasted baguette slices and serve with sea-salt.

Serve the pot au feu as both a soup and a main dish. Start with the bouillon in a bowl, and pile the vegetables and meat on a separate plate. Serve with pickles, sea-salt, and fresh baguette. You can also put a pot of mustard on the table for those who wish.

As the French say – Bon appetite!

 

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