French Beef Stew
(Pot au Feu)
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The most traditional, classic french beef stew has to be 'Pot au Feu' well known all over France. The pot-au-feu (French for "pot on the fire") is a French boiled dinner.
There are variations as to the cuts of beef and the vegetables involved, but in general a french beef stew or pot-au-feu will contain: beef (generally, low-cost cuts that need long cooking) bone with marrow, vegetables and spices.
When we cooked this for our friends, it's seemed like an accomplishment. We were swiftly reminded that most french people grew up eating this stew regularly while growing up, as this is traditionally peasant food, so it really isn't that special to the french, just the norm!!
Still, it tastes great and because it takes so long to cook, the mouthwatering smell of it cooking is all over your house.
Allowing the stew to cool allows for the removal of excess grease which forms a layer on the surface. I have to say, if you manage to cook a large quantity and have left overs for the next day. It definitely tastes better.
The dish is often served with coarse salt and strong Dijon mustard and sometimes with gherkins and boiled eggs.
The pot-au-feu broth may be used as a soup (often enriched with rice, pasta or toasted bread), as a base for sauces, or for cooking vegetables or pasta.
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French Beef Stew (Pot au Feu)
serves:- 4-6, preparation time:- 10 mins, cooking time:- 3-4 hours
* 1.5kg or 3lb of meat, shin of beef or flank with the bone inside
* 6 carrots
* 6 small turnips
* 6 leeks
* 2 onions, with cloves stuck in
* 2 cloves of garlic
* 2 bay-leaves
* 1 sprig of thyme, parsley, and celery leaves
* 2 marrow bones
* 6 medium potatoes
* salt and pepper
* In a large crock pot, bring about 3 litres or 5 pints of water to the boil.
* put in the meat and bring back to the boil and leave to boil for 3-4 minutes, until you can remove the scum.
* lower the heat and simmer for about 1-2 hours (depending on how tender you want your meat).
* add all the vegetables (except the potatoes), herbs and seasoning and cook for a further 1 to 1&1/2 hours.
* Then finally add the potatoes and marrow bones, when the potatoes are cooked the stew is ready!!
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