Beef Broth and Pot-au-Feu


Beef Broth and Pot-au-Feu

Beef Broth and Pot-au-Feu
Beef Broth and Pot-au-Feu

Most restaurants make beef broth out of beef bones and end up with a broth that lacks the subtle rich flavor of meat. Bones of course are cheap and meat is expensive, but if you serve the meat as a meal it’s easier to justify using it to make broth. Roast knuckle bones for an hour or so until well browned and then simmer gently in just enough water to cover (about a pint per pound of bones) for 12 hours. The night you make your broth, plan on serving a pot-au-feu, which is the French equivalent of a New England boiled dinner—except that no corned beef is used and nothing ever gets boiled, just gently poached. For an authentic pot-au-feu, serve the broth as a first course or use it to surround the meat, served sliced and in deep soup plates. For variety, include three different cuts of beef, all of them tough, flavorful cuts meant for braising or, in this case, poaching.


– 4 rounds of beef shank, tied widthwise and lengthwise with kitchen string.

– 3- to 4-pound chuck roast meant for pot roasting, tied widthwise and lengthwise with kitchen string.

– 4 pounds beef short ribs left in one piece.

– 5 quarts cold water or beef bone broth or more as needed to cover.

– 1 large onion, halved and peeled.

– 1 clove, stuck into the onion.

– 4 large carrots, peeled, cut into 3-inch sections.

– 2 turnips, peeled, each cut into 8 wedges.

– 8 small to medium leeks, greens removed, whites halved and rinsed, whites tied together with string.

– Large bouquet garni.

– Mustard.

– French sour gherkins (cornichons).

– Coarse salt.

– Pepper.


Step 1:
Put the meat in a large pot and pour over the water or broth to cover. Bring to a gentle simmer and skim off any scum that floats to the top. Simmer gently for about 2 hours, regularly skimming off and discarding fat.

Step 2:
Add the vegetables and bouquet garni and simmer for 1 hour more. Lift the meat out of the broth and slice. Serve some of each kind of meat on heated plates and spoon some of the broth around the slices or reserve it all for another use. Pass the mustard, cornichons, salt, and pepper at the table. Keeps for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

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