Le Pot-au-feu

Do you remember the end of November?  You know, when it was in the upper 20s, low 30s and we all put on our hats and mittens and scarves and pretended it was winter?  But really, you know, it wasn’t.  Now this weather, this is winter weather.  This is the winter weather where I put on my hat and my mittens and my scarf and all you can see is the whites of my eyes.  This is real.

And this cold winter weather is the perfect time to enjoy Le Pot-au-feu.  Mon bf made this dish for me at the end of November, when we still just pretending it was winter.  But I know the weather we’re experiencing now is more what he had in mind to accompany this very hearty winter dish that he used to enjoy in France.  And now, I share with you his description of his mother’s recipe so that it will warm you up this weekend!

Le Pot-au-feu (from mon bf)
“Pot-au-feu” can be translated as “pot on the fire”.  It is a very simple winter dish made from vegetables and beef and is a great way to prepare a broth that is particularly enjoyable during cold days.

The bravest of you can try the bone marrow on bread which can be part of the recipe. You might also want to enjoy the broth with the ancestral tradition of “faire chabrot” – aka – pouring red wine in your broth before finishing your bowl.

“Faire chabrot” is often regarded as a poor men/farmer’s tradition, not acceptable in the high society.  Which is precisely what Alyssa and I are so keen to do it (Alyssa is, after all, a farmer’s daughter!). Regardless of any social context, you might want to try this experience for the great taste it has.

For 4 persons
Difficulty : extremely simple
Time : preparation 30 minutes, cooking 3 hours.
Cost : moderate

chuck roast 2 pounds ($9)
vegetable ($10)
3 carrots (baby carrots left unchopped are find)
1 onion (whole)
4 potatoes (cubed)
2 leeks (sliced)
3 turnips (cubed)
2 bones with marrow (optional)
garlic, salt, pepper, clove

tomato sauce ($3.8) and 1 sliced onion.

Put the chuck roast in a large pot and cover it with water. Upon heating and boiling, foam might form at the surface and has to be removed. When there is no more foam, add the peeled vegetables, one peeled (entire) onion pinched with clove.  Add more water to cover ingredients. Caution! Too much water will give a weak tasting broth. Add salt, garlic and pepper according to your taste. Keep at a gentle boil for 3 hours. (optional, add the bones with marrow after 2 hours).

Meanwhile you can prepare a tomato sauce with the remaining sliced onion. In addition to a tomato sauce, the Pot-au-feu is often appreciated with Dijon mustard and pickles.

After 3 hours, the meat and vegetable are taken out of the broth and are ready for eating.

The broth can be served as a starter after the fat has been removed from the surface. As strongly suggested earlier, the great “faire chabrot “ tradition is possible.

For the fearless of you interested in the bone marrow, the bones that were added after 2 hours and cooked for about 1 hour helps to keep the marrow in the bone so it is not lost in the broth. Take the hot marrow from the bone with a knife and spread it on (toasted) bread and add salt to your taste. Enjoy!!


See those bones and the marrow? It's going to be soooo gooood!

Pouring wine in the broth

Why are you being so polite? “Faire chabrot” Add some wine first.

Marrow on bread

Marrow from the bone.

Le Pot au feu with tomato sauce

The meat and vegetables with tomato sauce to complete your pot-au-feu experience!


10 responses to “Le Pot-au-feu

  1. Pingback: Pot au Feu and Recipe Roundup | The Heavy Table - Minneapolis-St. Paul and Upper Midwest Food Magazine and Blog

  2. Fantastique! This is one of my favorite winter dishes, and I love this version, the l’os a moelle, the “faire chabrot.” Tomato sauce as an accompaniment is new to me–is this a Provencal addition? We usually serve vinaigrette at the table, to add as each pleases.


    • Hi Brett,
      Thanks for the comment! My bf is from the Southwest of France, and tells me that he often ate it with tomato sauce. Ok, he always ate it with tomato sauce. I too enjoyed the bone marrow, much to my bf’s delight.
      PS. I’m looking forward to getting a copy of your book soon. Congratulations!!

  3. this looks molto buono. i can’t wait to try it out! stay warm and cozy you two!!

  4. Hi !

    I am 64, German, have Belgian nationality and live in the Charente dept. in France (16320).

    Here, the tomato addition is not so common, but the marrow (with pepper and salt) as well as faire chabrot are an absolute must.

    Faire chabrot is, still, much more common than what most people think, even by young people in rural areas and, in a “routier” restaurant (truck stop) you will still see it done every day. In this area it is also often called faire godaille.

    A variation on this recipe is to serve the meat and veg IN the broth and serve it in deep plates that so not have a flat edge, something like a shallow bowl. plate must hold about 1.5 liters.

    Best regards,


    • Thank you for stopping by my blog, Takeo, and sharing the suggestion to eat the meat and vegetables in the broth. As an American, that’s how I was actually expecting to eat it because when my mother prepared something similar (though we never called it Le Pot au Feu) that’s how we would have eaten it. But eating it in the courses was very good for me – the faire chabrot was definitely my favorite part. Thanks again for your comment!

      • Dear Alyssa, please let me add something, an answer i once posted in a forum to questions about chabrot and mopping up sauce with bread in France.

        Here goes:

        Faire Chabrot, faire Godaille, faire Chabrol: all means the same, i.e. when you are almost done eating your soup, you pour a generous glass of red wine in your, still warm, plate and drink it straight from the plate.

        It is still customary in the south-west of France, mostly in rural areas.

        Origin of this tradition: till say, the 1950ies, in many rural areas, farmer communities, many people had soup 3 times a day, with bread, as their only meals.

        Soup would be (real soup ought to be) quite fat and, finishing your soup (say like 1/5 th remaining, you would put your spoon, upside down, in your soup plate and see to it that the bowl of the spoon was covered in wine, then you would drink it all straight from the plate.

        This would have 2 advantages: rinsing the fatty residue from the plate and also dilute the fatty content of your stomach with the alcohol from the wine. This gives you a healthy balance in that type of food.

        Mopping sauce with bread in France: also an old custom, still very much in use. It dates from times that people did not have more plates than they could afford, so one would clean his plate with bread for the following dish (if any) or just to clean the plate.

        Sorry for asking but may your mom be of Dutch or Flemish origin ? There, a dish called “Hutsepot” is very popular in winter and is also some sort of pot-au-feu eaten as a soup.

        Kindest regards,


  5. Alyssa, are you getting revved up for sugaring season? Are your family’s trees tapped yet? A friend in town told me her neighbor’s maple was running like crazy, and the squirrels were gathering to drink the sap!


    • Hi Brett! I am revved up, but sadly, my dad broke his ankle earlier this winter and there’s just not enough man power on the farm to do the sugaring. My brothers have been busy with their jobs and taking care of the farm, so March Maple Madness will be March Maple Sadness this year. But as long as my dad stays out of the woods, his ankle can heal properly and we can continue on next year.

  6. I’m so sorry to hear about your dad’s injury, Alyssa. And I’ll miss your March Maple Madness reports. Wishing him a quick recovery, and as the dedicated baseball fan says, there’s always next year.

    All best~ Brett

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s