Pot au Feu is a hearty vegetable dish that I grew up eating. In spite of its simplicity and peasant origins, I loved the smell of the bacon-rich broth, and the flavor of the tender-cooked vegetables.
Pot au feu, simply translated to “caldron of fire,” was a way to use what you raised, and what grew locally. For my mother, with her French upbringing, it meant a little meat and seasonal vegetables.
My mother recently sent me some Black Forest bacon amongst cheese and other gourmet goodies for my birthday. She knows what I love! And I just knew that I was going to use the bacon in a Pot au Feu. It’s the best way to honor it.
Pot au Feu
Onion, coarsely chopped
Cabbage, in chunks
Frozen peas, thawed
Parsley or fresh thyme
Begin by dicing the strips of bacon.
Place it in a braising pan with raised sides, large enough to accommodate the vegetables. I added a little olive oil in the braising pan because this bacon wasn’t fatty.
Cook the bacon over medium-high heat. Then stir in the onions, and lower the heat a little.
Cook the bacon and onions for about 5 minutes, then add the potatoes.
Add enough chicken broth just to partially cover the potatoes. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan slightly, and cook them for about ten minutes.
Add the carrots, and cook for about five minutes, depending on their size.
Tuck the cabbage into the broth, and add a little more broth as necessary.
Braise the vegetables, with the lid partially covered, turning them occasionally. Add the peas towards the end of the cooking time.
The pot au feu is done when all the vegetables are cooked though.
You can remove the bulk of the vegetables and bacon to a serving bowl, and then reduce the broth in the braising pan.
Then pour the remaining broth over the vegetables and serve. I forgot to do this, even though I did reduce the broth, so the vegetables aren’t “glistening” as they should be! Ah, food blogging!
As you can imagine, these simply braised vegetables are delicious as a side to just about every protein. Even though this vegetable dish is hearty, I think it works in the spring as well as in the fall or winter.
Sprinkle them with chopped parsley, if desired, or with fresh thyme leaves.
note: Like I mentioned, the vegetables can definitely be varied depending on the season, or what’s available. Butternut squash, leeks, sweet potatoes, turnips, green beans, even spinach or spring onions can be used. Just cook the densest vegetables first, so that in the end every element is perfectly cooked!