Normandy Recipes



Pot-au-feu (pot on the fire) is a French beef stew. According to the chef Raymond Blanc, pot-au-feu is "the quintessence of French family cuisine". It is the most celebrated dish in France. It honours the tables of the rich and poor alike.

  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 2 hours 15 minutes


  • Ham hock 1, about 1kg, soaked in cold water in the fridge for 6 hours or overnight
  • Flank of beef, outer fat removed 500g
  • Smoked streaky bacon, rind on 300g
  • Cold water 3 litres
  • Sea salt 2 pinches
  • Bouquet garni 1 (6 bay leaves, 10g parsley, 4g thyme, tied together)
  • Black peppercorns 20
  • Best quality sausage, such as Morteau 1, about 350g
  • Marrow bone 1, about 400g (optional)
  • Savoy cabbage 1 cut into 6 wedges, core retained
  • Medium carrots 6 (480g), peeled and quartered
  • Celery stalks 2 (120g), cut into thirds
  • Turnips 2 large (300g), peeled and halved
  • Onions 2 (300g), peeled and quartered, root left on
  • Flat-leaf parsley, chopped to garnish

  • Instructions:

    To cook the meat and vegetables, place all the meat, except the Morteau sausage and marrow bone, in a large casserole. Pour on the cold water to cover, add the salt and slowly bring to the boil. Let bubble gently for 1 minute while skimming to remove the impurities.

    Turn down to a gentle simmer, add the bouquet garni, peppercorns and garlic and cover with a lid, leaving a small gap. Cook very gently, with one bubble just breaking the surface, for 1½ hours. Skim off most of the fat, then add the Morteau sausage and marrow bone.

    Blanch the cabbage wedges in boiling water for 3 minutes, then add to the casserole with the rest of the vegetables. Cook very gently for a further 30 minutes or until the meat just starts to come away from the bone and the vegetables are soft but still holding their shape. Taste the liquid and correct the seasoning.

    To serve, you could simply serve the pot au feu straight from the casserole and let guests help themselves, but serving will be easier if you portion the meat in the kitchen. Divide the meat between warm soup plates, surround with the vegetables and pour on some of the cooking liquor. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and accompany with Dijon mustard, gherkins and a French baguette.

    Variations: other cuts of meat, such as feather blade steak, shin of been, lamb shank or pig' cheeks could be added to the dish at the start of cooking. Other root vegetables could be used, such as parsnips, swede, potatoes, celeriac, etc.

    The pot au feu must be simmered not boiled, otherwise the meat will become tough and the broth will turn very cloudy. When covering with a lid, it is important to leave a gap - if the lid is on tight, the heat will accumulate and the broth will boil.

    A little fat will improve and enhance the flavour of the broth, so I recommend that you do not skim all of it away. However, if you are determined to remove all the fat, the best way to do so is to allow the pot au feu to cool completely; the fat will then solidify on the surface of the liquid, making it easier to remove.

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