Thursday, January 28, 2016

Petite Marmite Pot Au Feu








      A Very Old Rustic French Recipe!
      Pot Au Feu is very easy to make.  This classic French recipe came from an age long before French cooking became a fine art.  A Petite Marmite Pot Au Feu looks like a lot of food in a large stew bowl, but the cuts of meat are basically soup stock bones with some meat attached.  The nutritious broth is has a very rich flavor that is satisfying on a chilly day.  It is well worth the long wait for a Pot Au Feu to come out of an oven!
     
     "Petite Marmite" actually refers to the earthenware vessel that a Pot Au Feu was cooked in many centuries ago.  Usually the earthenware pot full of stew ingredients was started over a fire, then later placed in an oven that was being heated for bread baking.  This method was best for a recipe that took all day to cook, because clay pots stood less chance of cracking in an oven than over an open fire.  This basic cooking method is easy to duplicate in a modern kitchen.

     Three traditional meals can be made with an authentic Petite Marmite Pot Au Feu.  To make three meals in the same pot, a cook has to replicate the order that that the ingredients were added in the original recipe over 1,000 years ago.  Way back in the Dark Ages, a Petite Marmite Pot Au Feu was made in a farm house kitchen on a day when the livestock was slaughtered and butchered.  
     Way back in the old days, chicken was the first farm animal that was harvested on butchering day. Chicken and aromatic mirepoix vegetables were simmered in a Petite Marmite earthenware pot with water to create a broth.  The chicken broth was the start of the Pot Au Feu and later in the day the meaty bones of other freshly butchered farm animals were added to the pot.  
     The first meal of a Petite Marmite Pot Au Feu was chicken, mirepoix vegetables and some broth.  This was served to the farm workers before noon.  This chicken and mirepoix vegetable soup is called Petite Marmite Soup in modern times and it is a classic French recipe.
     After serving the chicken for lunch, the rest of the broth was left in the Pot Au Feu.  More mirepoix vegetables were added.  Meaty bones from freshly butchered lamb, goat, cattle, horse or pigs were added to the pot as the day moved on.  In the late afternoon, some of the broth and vegetables served with bread as a second meal.  The broth nutritious broth was meant to revitalize the tired farmworkers.
     Sometime after sunset, the slowly cooked meat scraps were tender enough to fall off of the bones.  This is when the third and final Petite Marmite Pot Au Feu meal was served.  As one can imagine, a farmworker that was busy butchering meats all day would have a big appetite, so the meaty third meal from a Petite Marmite Pot Au Feu would have been mighty satisfying!

     It is difficult to trim the meat off of neck bones, joints, ribs and backbones, so these secondary cuts of meat are perfect for adding to a Petite Marmite Pot Au Feu.  These meaty bones also sell for a low price, so a big batch of Petite Marmite Pot Au Feu can cheaply feed many hungry guest!  
     Petite Marmite Pot Au Feu does not exactly look pretty, but that is the nature of rustic French farm food recipes from back in the Dark Ages.  As far as Petite Marmite Pot Au Feu goes, what really counts is the flavor and nutritional value!
 
     Petite Marmite Pot Au Feu:
     This recipe yields enough for 2 hearty meals for 2 or 3 guests. 
     There are no fancy cooking techniques involved with this old rustic French recipe.
     Step 1:  Place 1 1/2 quarts of water in a soup pot.
     Add 1/2 of a chicken that is cut into quartered pieces.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of diced carrot.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of diced onion.
     Add 1 cup of sliced leek.
     Add 1 1/2 cups of diced celery.
     Add 2 cups of chopped cabbage.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil over medium heat.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 3 cloves of chopped garlic.
     Add 1 teaspoon of thyme.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground sage.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of marjoram.
     Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Simmer till the chicken is fully cooked and the vegetables are tender.
     Step 3:  *At this stage of the recipe, the chicken and some of the vegetables is served with bread as a light meal for 2 guests.  This part of the Pot Au Feu is now called Petite Marmite Soup in modern times. 
     Use a slotted spoon or fryer net to scoop the chicken pieces and some of the vegetables out of the Pot Au Feu.
     Place the chicken and vegetables in 2 large soup bowls.
     Pour a portion of the broth over the chicken and vegetables.
     Serve with sliced bread and butter on the side.
     Step 4:  Transfer the remaining chicken broth and vegetables from the pot to an extra large oven proof casserole dish.
     Add 16 ounces of meaty veal neck bones.  (Or 16 ounces of meaty pork neck bones.)
     Add 10 ounces of meaty lamb neck bones.
     Add 1 thick piece of salt pork that weighs 4 ounces.
     *Check the level of the liquid.  The broth should almost cover the meaty bones.  Add water if there is not enough broth.
     Step 5:  Cover the casserole dish with a loose fitting lid.
     Place the Petite Marmite Pot Au Feu in a 300ºF oven.
     Do not stir the ingredients while the Pot Au Feu bakes.  Allow the exposed meat on the surface to brown, to create a richer flavor!
     Bake the Pot Au Feu till the meat is tender enough to start falling off the bones.  This may take about 2 to 3 hours.  Add water occasionally, so the level of broth almost covers the bones.
     Step 6:  Remove the casserole dish from the oven.
     Remove the bay leaf.
     Place the casserole dish on a hot pad on the table and serve.  (Or transfer the Petite Marmite Pot Au Feu to a large ceramic serving bowl.)
     Serve with rustic French bread and butter on the side.
 
     The first sip of the rich tasting Petite Marmite Pot Au Feu broth will cause hungry guests to smile from ear to ear!  The vegetables are so soft that they combine with the cartilaginous broth.  The tender neck bone meat literally falls off of the bones.  Petite Marmite Pot Au Feu is classic French comfort food at its best!

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