Food & dining

Recipe for pot au feu

Sally Pasley Vargas for The Boston Globe

Serves 4 with leftovers

Serve this classic dish with a dense, thickly sliced loaf, cornichons or other small sour pickles, and horseradish mustard.

2medium leeks, trimmed
6(1- to 1½-inch-thick) cross-cut beef shanks (about 6 pounds), trimmed
of excess fat
Salt, to taste
3quarts chicken stock
2bay leaves
3sprigs fresh thyme
3whole peppercorns
8carrots, peeled and halved crosswise
1large celery root, peeled and cut into
6 wedges
1large rutabaga, peeled and cut into
6 wedges
8small Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn
2tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Cut the leeks to separate the white parts and green ends. With kitchen twine, tie the green ends into a bundle. Quarter the white parts lengthwise.

2. In a soup pot, pour in 3 inches of water. Heat until the water is lukewarm. Add the beef shanks and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a low boil and cook for 2 minutes. Drain in a colander. Rinse the meat under cold water.


3. Rinse out the pan and return the meat to it. Add the stock and, if necessary, enough water to cover meat by 1 inch. Bring to a simmer and skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Add the green leek bundle, bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns. Set on the cover askew. Simmer for 2½ hours, skimming often, or until the beef is very tender.

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4. Set the oven at 250 degrees.

5. With tongs, remove and discard the leek bundle. Remove the meat and set it on a plate to cool slightly. Set aside 2 beef shanks and 2 cups of broth for the gratin. Slice the remaining meat and transfer it to a baking dish. Pour over a few ladles of cooking broth. Cover the dish with foil. Set it in the oven to keep warm.

6. Strain the broth into a large pot and skim the fat. To the remaining broth, add the carrots, celery root, rutabaga, and potatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the white leeks and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the vegetables are tender. Remove 2 cups of vegetables from the pot for the gratin.

7. Remove the meat from the oven, and transfer it to 4 shallow bowls. Add vegetables to each and ladle broth on top. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with bread, pickles, mustard, and coarse salt.

Sally Pasley Vargas