Bouilli or pot au feu québécois is a traditional beef stew from Québec, Canada inspired by the famous dish ‘pot au feu’ from France. A simple stew made of root vegetables, beef and pork belly cooked slowly until tender.

As a kid, I used to visit my grandparents once or twice a year. They were living in a small and remote village far away in the forest called Lac-des-Aigles (Eagles lake). We would always arrive in the late afternoon and the cast iron pot would already be doing its magic on the stove for hours… leaving behind this fantastic homy, reconforting stew smell. In the pot was a succulent and traditional meat stew called Bouilli in Quebec.

A winter dish to warm up the bones

This recipe is a flashback to those nice visits at my grandparents place. My grandma would make this recipe starting from when the root veggies would be fully grown in September up throughout the winter. As one knows, Quebec, my homeland, have inherited a lot from its cousins from France, amongst other things the language, justice system, gastronomy. However everything took a slightly different direction, and it’s also the case with Pot au Feu.

The French Pot au feu vs. The French Canadian Bouilli

Bouilli - pot au feu quebecois

A popular peasant dish in both France and Quebec, this dish is considered by many the incontestable comfort food. However, the French version often contains leeks while the French Canadian version uses onions and added green or yellow beans. Another difference is the type of meat, in Canada, we usually add a piece of salted pork belly (Lard salé) which is a common thing in any Canadian stews although in France they solely use beef pieces and extra bone marrows.

The technique

The recipe is terribly simple to do, all you need is a good old dutch oven, some patience and keeping an eye on the amount of liquid in the pot. It’s basically a slow and long cooking stew with lots of veggies like rutabagas (turnips), carrots, potatoes, green or yellow beans, onions, cabbage and pieces of lower quality beef cuts like chuck roast, Bottom Sirloin Flap, oxtail, brisket and a piece of salted pork belly.

Bouilli - pot au feu quebecois
My grandma Bouilli

To prevent the stew from boiling, we cover the pot with the lid and leave always a tiny crack to let the extra heat escape. This way you’ll get a perfect simmer and make the meat tender and steam the veggies to perfection without making the broth blurry in the end.

Bouilli or Pot au feu is a “kind of” stew although without as much liquid… containing about half the liquid of a normal stew. The goal is to always check for the meat to be covered by water although the veggies are going to stay on top of the liquid. The secret here is to simmer very gently and for long without moving the stew around. This way you’ll collect all the residual water from the “steamed” veggies and all that succulent juice from the pieces of meat in the juice.

The end result is a tender and dreamy merge of all the ingredients with just a touch of the tasty broth to cover the bottom of the plates. Back in the days, Pot au feu used to be served into 2 different dishes; first the broth or soup and afterwards the meat and veggies as main.

To serve with…

Marie et gigi in the kitchen
A family tradition

The only personal touch of mine in this version of pot au feu is the garlic clove, since I’ve been living abroad in Spain… I have this habit of adding garlic everywhere. In my family, we like to serve this dish with a nice fresh buttered white loaf slice of bread to accompany it and some extra pickles. We also make bundles with the beans to make them easier to pick up in the end, plus it also gives an extra aesthetic side to the dish.

So let’s start and make good use of that iron cast!


Bouilli or pot au feu québécois

5 from 1 vote
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 553
Beef Bouilli or pot au feu québécois is a traditional beef stew in Québec, Canada inspired by the famous dish ‘pot au feu’ from France. A simple stew made of roots vegetables, beef and pork belly cooked slowly until tender.

Equipment

  • 1 big dutch oven

Ingredients

  • 1 kilo chuck roast, bottom sirloin flap, oxtail or brisket
  • 300 g salted pork (pancetta)
  • 10 carrots
  • 400 g green beans (pack of 10 in string)
  • 2 rutabaga or turnip
  • 3 onions
  • 1/2 white cabbage
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 garlic clove (*optional)
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 3 cloves
  • salt and pepper

Instructions 

  • Start by searing the 2 pieces of seasoned meat with a bit of clarified butter or olive oil in a big Iron Cast pot, high heat until brown on each side.
  • Once done add the bouquet garni and cover the piece of meat (2cm over) with water.
  • Let simmer for two and a half hours, covered with the lid (leaving a small opening to let the heat escape and prevent the stew from boiling), making sure there is always water in the pot.
  • Cut all the veggies into big thick pieces, leave the carrots, potatoes and onions (with cloves stuck in them) whole.
  • Add all the veggies, except the green beans, on top of the meat and make sure there is always enough water to cover the pieces of meat, salt and pepper, cover and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  • Make little bundles with the green beans and attach them with the help of a string, add them on top of the stew, cover, simmer 30 more minutes.
  • Check and adjust the seasoning (salt and pepper)

Notes

After 3.5 to 4 hours of slow cooking the stew is finally ready, the meat gets ultra tender and breaks easily, take out the cloves from the onions and serve with a bit of broth at the bottom.
Sides to serve with this dish would be a nice white loaf bread with butter and lovely pickles.
Author: thefoodolic
Calories: 553kcal
Course: Plato principal
Cuisine: Francesa
Keyword: beef, bouilli, pot au feu, quebecois, stew

Nutrition

Calories: 553kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 433mg | Potassium: 1760mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 13298IU | Vitamin C: 66mg | Calcium: 175mg | Iron: 6mg
Nutrition Facts
Bouilli or pot au feu québécois
Amount per Serving
Calories
553
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
25
g
38
%
Saturated Fat
 
8
g
50
%
Trans Fat
 
0.1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
3
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
11
g
Cholesterol
 
102
mg
34
%
Sodium
 
433
mg
19
%
Potassium
 
1760
mg
50
%
Carbohydrates
 
47
g
16
%
Fiber
 
10
g
42
%
Sugar
 
14
g
16
%
Protein
 
37
g
74
%
Vitamin A
 
13298
IU
266
%
Vitamin C
 
66
mg
80
%
Calcium
 
175
mg
18
%
Iron
 
6
mg
33
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Enjoy!

Pot au Feu (bouilli)

25 Comments

  1. collegeceliackc Reply

    This looks like the perfect comfort food, especially during cold days!

  2. I have a recipe for the French version of pot au feu, but loved reading about the differences between that and the French Canadian version. This looks like a perfect, comforting pot of goodness.

  3. Louis Giguere Reply

    When my mom cooked that dish, my uncle drove from Montreal to Quebec City to be in on it. Always in August when the required vegetables are at their freshest

  4. Greg Cossette Reply

    Had some bouilli when I visited my cousin Solange in Notre-Dame-de-Montauban, Quebec! She treated me to the Cossette family version. Fantastic!

    • It s a quite welcoming meal, especially on a cold winter night. I m intrigued… What differ in the Cossette family bouilli?

  5. In peru there is a similar dish called “Sancochado” …so good 🙂

    • Really!? Lovely! Got to go back there to try it out! They probably add a bit of succulent choclo with it!? 🥰

  6. My mother would make this and serve ploi on the side. Mmmm there is nothing better. Brings back good memories.

      • Yes I guess you could call them pancakes. They were definitely buckwheat. They were thinner than I pancake though and were only cooked on one side. I would say they were a cross between a tortilla and a crepe.

        • Heard a lot about these… by my mom. Growing up she used to have them all the time… but sadly the flour to make them isn’t so easy to find.

  7. Kouign-amann Reply

    Merci pour ta recette. Je suis aux États-Unis et je cherche à faire un bouilli pour me ramenez chez nous en esprit.

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