Sweet & Sour Pot au Feu for Winter

Pot au Feu is a French pot roast made in a savory style with vegetables, cold water, and condiments. It’s a dish to remember. It takes a while to finish cooking although a slow cooker saves time and trouble. It’s easy to make and quite different than so called “American pot roast” which browns the roast and braises in red wine and chicken stock.

The American sweet and sour version is also one of my favorites. This can be done by merely adding 1/2 lemon, 2 tbsp brown sugar, plus dried fruit. This version is wonderfully different and refreshing. Be sure to add an additional pound to the recipe to savor the leftovers the following few days.

Pot au Feu is one of the original pot roast recipes. It’s an ancient dish that was first described in print in 1673. It was described by Henry IV of France (1553-1610) as an essential dish to the well being of the everyday French citizen. Henry is purported to have said that “no peasant in his kingdom is (to be) so poor that he cannot have a “poule au pot” — or pot au feu to eat.

The recipe is usually served in courses with bone marrow on toast followed by vegetables, cuts of meat and broth. Savory condiments are also very popular and delicious for dipping.

Pot au Feu is a dish to remember. As a boy I recall a French neighbor serving the dish whenever our families gathered together on Sunday afternoons. It was considered a special meal which memorialized the warmth between our families.
Make it your meal as well. You won’t be sorry you did.

Sweet and Sour French Pot Roast
Serves 4-6 ( Cook 3 1/4 – 3 1/2 hours at a simmer)
Use a large soup pot or a Slow Cooper

Ingredients
6 pounds boneless Chuck roast
1 (2-pound) marrow bone ( Ask your butcher to cut a chuck beef bone into 2-inch rounds. Explain your wish to eat the marrow in the bones.
6 cups chicken stock
3-4 cups cold water just below the top of the roast.
6 medium size leeks, trim each end, cut in half and vertically and then cut into rounds; and rinse thoroughly
6 carrots, peeled and halved crosswise
6 stalks celery, halved crosswise
2 large onions, quartered and each quarter studded with 4 cloves
1 bouquet garni (Mix 3 parsley stems, 1 branch thyme and 2 bay leaves in a cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine).
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp light brown sugar
juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup each dried, diced apricots and prunes
¼ cup diced yellow raisins
2 bay leaves
2 large parsnips, peeled and quartered
1 pound small new potatoes, quartered
8 slices French baguette bread toasted with olive oil, plus additional for passing with marrow bones
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

Condiments served on the side
10 Cornichons
4 tbsp Pickled onions
¼ cup grated horseradish
4 tbsp Whole grain mustard
Coarse kosher salt and pepper to taste
toasted baquette bread slices

Directions –

1- In a large stockpot brown 6 lbs of chuck beef roast on all sides and place in the pot on top of the sliced leeks, carrots, celery, onions and parsnips. Add 2 lbs of sliced marrow bones to the pot, tucking them between the meat, and the bouquet garni, salt and peppercorns and cayenne.

2—Add enough water and chicken stock to come to the top of the roast without covering. Then cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Then reduce the heat to a simmer partially covered for an initial 1 hour.

3-Taste and adjust the broth to achieve a sweet and sour taste to your liking by adding an additional 2 tbsp more diced, dried fruit and 1 tsp light brown sugar. Or merely adjust the salt and pepper and cayenne to your liking.

4— Continue cooking the roast for another 1½ hours— first at a boil and then reduce to a simmer-skimming any foam which forms on the top.

5— Remove the beef, strain the broth and discard the onions and parsnips. Then return the broth and meats to a boil in the pot and add the bay leaves, and the remaining marrow bones, leeks, carrots and potatoes.

6- Bring the broth to a simmer and cook,partially covered, for 45 more minutes after bringing to a full boil.

7—Remove the meat from the broth and cut the twine. Carefully remove the remaining vegetables from the broth, placing them on a large serving platter, and moisten with some broth. Cover and keep warm.

8—Strain the broth —reserving in the pot at low temperature— and carve half the meat in 1 inch thick slices moistened with hot broth. Then place on the serving platter with the vegetables. Cover and keep warm.

9- Place 2 slices of beef with vegetables and 2 tbsp hot broth on each plate.

Note: Keep the remaining unsliced beef in the pot with warm heated broth, covered. When diners are interested in seconds, cut 4-6 more slices with 3-4 more tbsp broth on your serving platter and return to the table.

10—Rub the bread with garlic and lightly toast before placing in the bottom of a shallow bowl. Pour equal amounts of broth over the baguette toast and serve as a first course. Pass the marrow bones at the table and serve with additional toast for spreading the marrow. Serve the meat and vegetables as a main course with desired condiments. Bon Appetite!

 

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