secrets, recipes and preparation tips

The pot-au-feu is a traditional French family and comforting dish, a warm and nutritious dish, perfect for warming up in winter. Its name comes from the fact that in the past it was traditionally prepared in a pot placed on the fire, in which the poor and simple ingredients that compose it were slowly cooked.

Water, winter vegetables, pieces of beef (and bone marrow): these are the foods that make up this rich dish that each family has and passes down its recipe from generation to generation. If the recipes differ from one household to another, all versions of the pot-au-feu have two “ingredients” in common: time and patience! Although this dish is easy to prepare, it requires slow cooking. It needs to be simmered for several hours to get the best results.

Light, nutritious and comforting, the pot-au-feu is the winter dish par excellence. Here’s everything you need to know about pot-au-feu: cooking tips, recipes and variations.

Cooking Secrets

To begin with, to prepare a pot-au-feu according to the rules of the art, you must have a good casserole dish. This utensil will allow the dish to simmer gently and for a long time and the ingredients to cook well and become tender. Count about four hours of cooking.

You can choose whatever seasonal vegetables you prefer, but carrots, leeks, celery, onions (studded with cloves), potatoes and turnips are essential. When it comes to meat, to get a variety of tastes and textures, follow the “rule of three.” Choose three different cuts of beef: a fatty cut (rib dish, brisket, etc.), a lean cut (neck, chuck, beef cheek, etc.) and a gelatinous cut (chest, beef shank, etc.) .). Everything must be flavored with a delicious bouquet garni. For the complete recipe for the traditional pot-au-feu, click here.

A little tip: start cooking with cold water and, during cooking, regularly skim the broth to remove impurities and obtain a clear and limpid broth.

How to serve the stew

For a convivial meal, with family or friends, you can place the casserole in the center of the table and serve your pot-au-feu when all the guests are there. Everyone can decide for their quantity of food, which will be served with a ladle: meat and vegetables and, to finish, a good quantity of hot broth on top.

If you prefer, you can also transfer the meat and vegetables to a large plate and put the broth in a soup tureen. The guests will then help themselves according to the desired quantities.

The meat of the pot-au-feu can be accompanied with Dijon mustard for a touch of more intense and spicy flavor. Those with a sweet tooth can dip slices of toasted bread rubbed with fresh garlic in the broth, or dip croutons made with stale bread.

As for drinks, you can serve this winter dish with white wine or, if you prefer, with cold lager.


The pot-au-feu can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, inside an airtight container closed with a lid. Like any simmered dish, it is even better the next day: when preparing, do not hesitate to double the quantities! Before tasting it, all you have to do is reheat it to bring out its flavors and restore the softness to the pieces of meat.

If the meat and vegetables have been eaten but you only have broth left, do not throw it away! You can enjoy it on its own, for a light but nutritious meal, or you can use it to accompany vermicelli or rice.

Stew Recipes

As we said, there is not just one recipe for the pot-au-feu, there is rather one for each family and everyone has their own secrets for preparing this simple and comforting dish. This traditional recipe can be adapted according to the ingredients that we have available or that are easy to identify.
Here are some examples of variations on the classic stew, to prepare when you want a simmered dish perfect for cold winter days.

Pot-au-feu of veal with spinach

Pot-au-feu of veal with spinach

This pot-au-feu recipe is revisited with spinach, leeks and Lebanese couscous, and made with veal. Follow the recipe to prepare it at home, this perfect dish for a friendly meal rich in flavor.

The hotpot on the fire

The hotpot on the fire

Potée au feu is a gourmet variant of pot-au-feu in which the beef is replaced by various pieces of pork (pallet, sausages, rind, etc.), all enriched with a fine selection of vegetables winter (green cabbage, carrots, turnips, leeks, etc.). Click here to find out how to prepare at home.

Read also: do you know the secrets of the perfect broth?

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