Saturday, May 25, 2013

Pot au feu

You approach a Parisian restaurant and look at the menu posted in the window or at the door. The price looks right (a three-course "Menu" at 34 Euros), but you see that the starters (entrées) include a choice between Crottin chaud en salade and Consommé princesse; the main course (plat) choices include Pot au feu and Blanquette de veau; dessert choices are Île flottante and Profiteroles. You scratch your head and wonder, "What is this stuff?"
I can come to the rescue by sprinkling the occasional menu item (with a photo) into future posts, and today we start with Pot au feu (literally "pot on the fire"), which has always been popular in France. This unpretentious, bony stew of boiled meats and vegetables is the perfect French comfort food. A variety of meats and root vegetables are cooked together until everything in the pot is fork tender. Beef is generally the main meat (beef shank, short ribs or rump steak, along with big pieces of bone, which are used for their flavorful marrow). A pot au feu is served in two stages. Diners start with a bowl of the concentrated broth accompanied by bone marrow spread on slices of toasted baguette, then usually salted (trust me, it's better than it sounds). A second course consists of the different meats and vegetables removed from the pot and served with mayonnaise, mustard, and horseradish.
Note: in France a starter is called an entrée; a main course is a plat.

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