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French Provincial Pot-au-Feu

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A simple and hearty French Provincial Pot-au-Feu recipe, perfect for days when the air is chilled, and the fire is warm. Beef tenderloin is slow cooked in with beef stock with herbs and root vegetables for a comforting, hearty dinner that is healthy enough to enjoy every week this winter!

Close up of Pot-au-Feu in black bowls.

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This traditional French Pot-au-Feu recipe is perfect for those days when you crave the unmistakable aroma of slowly simmering meat and root vegetables to permeate the entire house.

The flavorful and tender meat can be slowly cooked on cold winter days when time allows a slowly cooked and flavorful stew!

What is Pot-au-feu?

Pot-au-feu, or “pot-on-the-fire,” is a French Provincial beef stew, where flavorful and affordable cuts of meat, marrow bones, and root vegetables are slowly cooked with spices like bouquet-garni, salt, pepper, and cloves and often served with horseradish sauce or Dijon mustard.

Chef Raymond Blanc, raised in Saône, France, and owner and chef at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, describes Pot-au-Feu as “the quintessence of French family cuisine, it is the most celebrated dish in France. It honours the tables of the rich and poor alike.”

Origins of Pot au Feu

This historic dish was referenced in 1600 by King Henry IV of France (1553-1610) when he declared, “Je veux qu’il n’y ait si pauvre paysan en mon royaume qu’il n’ait tous les dimanches sa poule au pot” translated as, “I want no peasant in my kingdom to be so poor that he cannot have a poule au pot on Sundays.”

He was referring to a chicken, but it is common in French for any large piece of meat to be cooked and enjoyed in this way.

Side view of uncooked chopped vegetables on a sheet pan for French Provincial Pot-Au-Feu.

Ingredients

Here is what you’ll need to make this traditional French recipe:

  • Beef tenderloin or chuck-eye roast, trimmed
  • Cooking liquid: a combination of low-sodium beef stock and water I find works well
  • Vegetables: carrots, rutabaga, parsnips, leeks, celery and potatoes
  • Bouquet garni: sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary, parsley, and bay leaves
  • Seasoning: kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a pre-made Bouquet Garni?

Yes but make sure it is a fresh one – the dried sachets (they look a bit like tea bags) will work in a pinch but you won’t get the same fresh flavor as you would using fresh herbs.

How should I serve this Pot-au-Feu?

Ladle the broth into shallow bowls. Add meat and vegetables and serve with horseradish sauce, mustard… or both! Crusty bread does not go amiss on the side, either!

Do I have to make any changes if I want to cook a chicken instead?

No, just simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, this will depend on the size of your chicken.

Can I make this recipe in a Crockpot?

Layer the bottom of the slow cooker with vegetables, place cuts of meat on top, tuck in the herbs and pour the broth over the top. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Closeup view of cooked Pot-au-Feu with carrots, thyme, onions, and parsley.

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Side view of slow cooked Pot au Feu in a black Dutch Oven

French Provincial Pot-au-Feu

A hearty French Provincial Pot-au-Feu recipe: beef tenderloin is slow cooked in with beef stock with herbs and root vegetables for a comforting, healthy yet hearty dinner.
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 bouquet garni (3 sprigs each fresh thyme, parsley, 1 sprig rosemary, and 2 bay leaves)
  • 2 pounds beef tenderloin or chuck-eye roast, trimmed
  • 8 cups low sodium beef stock
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 medium carrots chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 small rutabaga peeled and sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 parsnips peeled and sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 leeks white part only, thinly sliced
  • 4 celery ribs sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound red potatoes unpeeled and sliced or chopped
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt or to taste
  • freshly cracked pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Make a bouquet-garni by wrapping the parsley, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves in a piece of moistened cheesecloth and tie into a bundle.
  • In a large, heavy stockpot over medium heat, brown the meat. Add the stock, water, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, pepper, and herbs to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer until tender; about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
  • Once tender, remove the meat from the pot and strain the broth. Return both to the pot and add the vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Untie the roast and cut across the grain into slices or chunks and add it back to the simmering broth until it is heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
  • To serve: Ladle the broth into shallow bowls. Add meat and vegetables and serve with horseradish sauce, mustard… or both!

Notes

CrockPot or Slow Cooker Method:
 Layer the bottom of the slow cooker with vegetables, place cuts of meat on top, tuck in the herbs and pour the broth over the top. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Nutrition

Calories: 384kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 1336mg | Potassium: 1493mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 4339IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 145mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: French
Keyword: beef stew, pot au feu

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