Friday, 22 April 2011

Pot au feu

 I bring you Pot au Feu, the tremendous French Peasant dish which is exactly what we should all be cooking in frugal times.  This dish, call it a  stew or a soup or both continues my ongoing theme of “how to feed your family for a week”. For the meat I used beef flank, oxtail, bone marrow, ox liver, knuckle of veal and chicken giblets.  For the vegetables, carrots, leeks, grilled tomatoes, a little celery, parsnip turnip and an onion studded with cloves.  What you are left with is a consomme, cooked meat and stewed vegetables.
In true Elizabeth David style there were no details on how to serve it. After transporting it to Scotland we set about deconstructing it and deciding what bits to eat.  The kids had the flank with consomme and carrots served with pasta.  Tom and I eagerly dug into the different bovine bits, savoring them all like children in a sweet shop.  The next night the vegetables and the oxtail became a more conventional stew, which was a pasta sauce for the kids the next night.  The consomme was amazing from a flask on the beach and a divine espresso cup of a starter for friends.  I was never convinced I fancied the broth but one sip and the flavour totally won us over,we were hooked.
The flank had the most meat on, so this made delicious beef sandwiches with dijon mustard on shepherds loaf- the 2 kilo spelt sourdough loaf, bought from home that “fed the family for a week”. The last meal we got from the pot was a beef salad, basically the cooked beef cut small, mixed with a salsa verde, perfectly simple and so, so good.
In reading up on Pot au Feu I now realize we missed a trick,  the bone marrow should have been served on toast with the consomme.  The bone marrow was the only disappointing bit and just tasted fatty on it’s own and no match for the famous St John’s roasted bone marrow we adore.  
I will be making this again, not only for the bone marrow but for the joy of cooking a meal of the cheapest cuts of meat that can nourish us all week long. 

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