I don’t make pot-au-feu very often but I felt like giving myself a treat today. I made the French-style beef stew using oxtail bones. The dish looks very rustic and doesn’t require exquisite cuts of meat. The oxtail pieces provide a nice texture thanks to their gelatin content. The gravy consists of turnip, carrots, celery, leeks and onions. I also added a few fresh sprigs of fragrant herbs, clove and a bottle of good drinking wine.
The meat was so tender and fell off the bone so easily that it was difficult to gather a whole piece into the serving dish. It was my daughter’s first pot-au-feu and I can tell she’s going to have many more. After her first bite she said “miam miam” (French for yum yum)!
1. Info for Pot Au Feu Recipe (French Beef Stew)
- Cook Time: unavailable
- Total Time: unavailable
- Servings: 4
- Calories: unavailable
2. Ingredients for Pot Au Feu Recipe (French Beef Stew)
- 1 dozen large oxtails
- 4 teaspoons papaya paste (see tips)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- 1 turnip, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 10-inch celery stalks, diced
- 2 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 bouquet garni
- 1 leek (white and green parts), thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
- 3 San Marzano Roma tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 5 teaspoons sugar (optional), depending on how sweet the onions are
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
- 3 cups Cabernet Sauvignon (or any red wine)
- 2 cups homemade beef stock, (or 16-ounce can)
- 3 tablespoons Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- In a pot, soak the oxtails in about a quart of water with 1 tablespoon of salt overnight. The next day, rinse the bones, place them in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain the water. Rinse the meat under running water and set aside. Pat dry.
- Transfer the oxtails to a baking pan. Season with salt and pepper and roast at 425°F for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 275°F and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the gravy. Preheat a slow cooker (set on low mode, cook time “2 hours”). Note: You could also make the meat stew in a heavy-bottomed pan and cook until the meat is tender.
- In a large heavy-bottomed pan, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions, leeks and bouquet garni. Cook on high heat until slightly golden. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook until soft and tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the caramelized onions, leeks and bouquet garni to the slow cooker.
- In the pan, add the garlic. Cook until slightly golden and add the bay leaf, celery, carrots and turnips. Allow to brown on each side. Add ½ to 1 cup of water. Scrape the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon (called deglazing). Once the liquid is evaporated, add the oxtails, tomatoes, wine, beef stock and papaya paste. Bring to a boil, then transfer everything to the slow cooker. Season with salt.
- Cover the slow cooker with a lid and let simmer for 2 hours (or 3 hours on the stove).
- Serve warm with steamed vegetables, toasted bread, steamed potatoes, mashed potatoes or pasta. Garnish with parsley.
- Bon appétit!
- Note: The stew tastes even better the following day!
4. Tips and advices:
- How to make a bouquet garni: The traditional bouquet garni is composed of a sprig of thyme (I used lemon thyme), 1 bay leaf (torn in half), 1 small portion of leek (only the green part), a few flat-leaf parsley stems and a small stalk of celery. Gather all the ingredients in a large teabag or in a square of cheesecloth and tie it with some twine. You can use it to flavor sauces and broths.
- You can easily find oxtails in any Asian markets and the meat department of many supermarkets.
- Papaya is a great meat tenderizer. This was my husband’s late grandma’s secret for tender and moist meat. This is not an authentic ingredient for this French dish but I think it makes the meat more tender.