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A traditional beef stew with French origins, cooked slowly with loads of veggies for a memorable family dinner.bouilli

pot au feu bouilli

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 from my home called Lac-des-Aigles (Eagles lake) in Quebec, Canada. We would always arrive in the late afternoon and the Cast Iron pot would already be doing its magic on the stove in the kitchen upon our arrival, giving the house this comfy and welcoming aroma. In the pot was a succulent meat stew called Pot au feu, although it’s called Bouilli in Quebec. 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 the garden by the end of August throughout the winter. As one knows, Quebec, where I’m from, have inherited a lot from our cousins from France, amongst other things the language and the gastronomy. However everything took a slightly different direction, and it’s also the case with Pot au Feu.

 

The French vs. The French Canadian version

Pot au Feu (bouilli)

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

 

The technique

The recipe is terribly simple to do, all you need is 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 also 2 pieces of meat like a second quality piece of chuck roast and a piece of salted pork belly.

Pot au Feu (bouilli)

To prevent the stew from boiling, we cover the pot with the lid and leave always a tiny opening 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. 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 bottom broth. 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.

Personal note

Pot au feu in the makingFinally, last week, my mom showed me her mom’s recipe for the first time, strangely I didn’t even tried it once before…  I guess I wanted to keep the memory of the perfect stew of my grandma intact. 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 the habit of adding garlic to everything. In my family, we like to serve this dish with a nice fresh buttered white bread slice 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 pot!

 


Pot au Feu (Bouilli)

Makes 6-8 portions | Difficulty: easy| Preparation: 3.5 to 4 hours

Ingredientsbouilli quebecois ingredients
  • 1 kilo of Beef chuck roast (braising steak)
  • 300g of salted pork belly (pancetta)
  • 10 carrots peeled
  • 400g of green beans or yellow beans
  • 2 rutabaga or turnip
  • 3 white onions
  • 1/2 white cabbage 
  • 4 potatoes
  • 1 garlic clove *optional
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 3 cloves (stick them in the onions to find them easily in the end to remove them)
  • salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Start by searing the 2 pieces of meat with a bit of clarified butter or olive oil in a big Iron Cast pot, high heat until brown on each side
  2. Once done add the bouquet garni and cover the piece of meat (2cm over) with water
  3. 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
  4. Cut all the cabbage and rutabaga (or turnip) into big thick pieces, leave the carrots, potatoes and onions (with cloves stuck in them) whole
  5. 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
  6. 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 minutes more minutes
  7. Check and adjust the seasoning (salt and pepper)
  8. After 3.5 hours of slow cooking the stew is finally ready, the meat gets tender and break easily to serve, take out the cloves from the onions and serve with a bit of the bottom broth.

 

Enjoy!

Pot au Feu (bouilli)

Lemon and Garlic Chicken Stew is a tangy and delicate dish served on a kamut couscous to soak all that tangy lemon-garlic sauce. Comfort food with a certain zing!Lemon and Garlic Chicken Stew is a tangy and delicate dish served on a kamut couscous to soak all that tangy lemon-garlic sauce. Comfort food with a certain zing!

Lemon-Garlic Chicken Stew

I’m a big citrus fruits fan, also a big comfort food one. Mix up those two and you get a nice stew dish! Lemon and garlic are a great pair, the garlic will be turning sweet after a long cooking period and the lemon giving a nice tangy flair to the dish. Garlic is such an undefined ingredient in the sense that its taste and texture change a lot whether you cook it for a Garlic-Lemon Chicken Stewshort or long time and also quite different raw. For example, in this particular dish you add the garlic right at the beginning of the cooking processed so this way you’ll end up with a smooth, sweet garlic flavor although if you want to add an extra “spicy, sharp” garlic taste to it, you could always add an extra garlic in the end of cooking. Just this small extra in the end would make the dish quite different, but for this particular stew, I’ve kept the garlic sweet.

As for the lemon, I highly recommend to choose organic ones because this recipe uses the zest from a whole lemon. Residues on citrus fruit is practically impossible to eliminate completely, so make yourself a favor and buy organic. If not, let the lemon soak in warm water for an hour before usage.

Casserole vs Stew

Big dilemma… I have a hard time figuring out which I should call the recipe; a stew or a casserole? In theory the casserole and stew are the same, long cooking process of meat in a broth but the stew is done on the stove while casserole is done in the oven. In cooking classes they would often start the stews on the stove and finish it up in the oven, which gives this nice extra caramelize layer on top. While the cooking on the stove makes it easier to control the temperature and the amount of liquid you want in the dish. So this dish is a mix of both, and I have no idea how to call this process, nor how to call this recipe. Basically the dilemma got solved with the help of a coin and a “tails” being the stew.

So let’s make this zesty stew!


Lemon and Garlic Chicken Stew

Makes 5-6 portions | Difficulty: easy | Preparation: 1h45

Ingredients
  • Lemon-Garlic Chicken Stew500ml chicken broth
  • 150ml of white wine
  • 4 drumsticks of chicken with skin
  • 4 thighs of chicken with skin
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 organic lemon
  • mandarin
  • 2 laurel leave
  • rosemary branch or 1 tsp of dried rosemary
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces
  2. Cook the chicken legs, strong medium-high heat, in olive oil until crisp light brown skin on each sides
  3. Add the onions, garlic, laurel leave, small rosemary branch, pepper and the wine
  4. Scratch the bottom of the pan to take off the bits of chicken stocked on the bottom
  5. Add the broth, bring to a simmer
  6. Wash the lemon, zest it all, add the zest and the juice from the lemon directly into the stew with the juice or the mandarine
  7. Let simmer for an hour, half covered
  8. Finish the meal in the oven at 180°C (350F) for 30 to 45 minutes or until well crusted on top of the chicken (uncovered)
  9. Serve on a kamut couscous and extra sauce to let the couscous soak it up.

 

Serve with extra lemon slices! Enjoy!

Lemon-Garlic Chicken Pot

An unctuous and spicy Mexican stew made with a Mole style sauce and tender beef cubes served with tortilla chips, corn and parsley, for an “Olé” night. An unctuous and spicy Mexican stew made with a Mole style sauce. All the great Mexican flavors plus some extra veggies, served with tortilla chips, corn and parsley, for an extra Southern flair.

Mexican stew

I was browsing the Web last week and saw lots of stews and Mexican food around… it made me want them both badly… so I’ve decided to merge them both into one nice stew meal; a Mexican Stew. The two are comforting and great dishes for winter times but this stew version is double the comfort; it’s a “French” way stew with the usual; carrot, potato, beef, mini french oignons merged to a spicy Mole style sauce for a Mexican flair; adding Chipotle peppers in Adobo, tomato puree, chocolate, corn and some cinnamon, cumin and coriander powder. Result: Fantastic!

Chipotle peppers

Mexican stewThe mole sauce is a thick spicy Mexican sauce made with chocolate and lots of hot peppers. Since my maximal tolerance toward “spicy” is at medium-hot,  I’ve aimed at medium-hot for this dish but feel free to add some chipotle peppers  if you like it “hot”. Those chipotle peppers are considered mild from the start with only 3000 SHU / 10000 SHU on the Scoville scale, so… this is a meal suitable for everyone. Plus, they come in an adobo marinade which is a tomato, garlic and spices paste, fitting perfectly with the stew. Another particularity of the Chipotle peppers is its smokey side, since they smoked them before being marinated.

The Chocolate factor

This isn’t a joke, unsweetened chocolate is just the best friend of any stew. First, because it’s a thickener, all natural, no need for that extra flour in the beginning or corn starch to thickens the sauce. Second, it gives the sauce this deep rich brown color which makes it just irresistible. Third, dark chocolate is filled with health benefits; lower the bad cholesterol, may be lowering blood pressure, great source of antioxidants, protect the skin from the sun, cut hunger, contains lots of fibres, iron, magnesium, etc. Let just say it’s great news for our health. This Mexican stew doesn’t contain more than 50g of dark chocolate, although it looks like it contains lots because of it’s thick consistency. It’s actually half a small bar of dark chocolate, no more and no worries the flavor is really subtle.

mole mexican beef stew
The toppings

The toppings are totally up to you, I wanted to make it extra Mexican looking so I’ve added some corn grains, tortilla chips, parsley. Those are all optional of course. Also, I’ve done the potatoes on the side but some people might prefer being serve this dish with rice, which is usually the side dish to mole dishes in Mexico. So it’s all up to you!

Let’s make this unctuous and spicy Mexican stew!

 


Mexican stew

Makes 6 portions | Preparation: 2 hours | Difficulty: easy

Ingredients
  • Mexican stew500g of beef in 4 cm cubes
  • 500ml of beef broth
  • 4 chipotle pepper in adobo (6 for ‘extra’ hot)
  • 1 tbsp of the adobo paste (from the can above)
  • 400g tomato paste/purée
  • 3 carrots cut into dices
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped finely
  • 8 mini french onion (or 2 onions)
  • 1 tbsp of worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp of cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp of coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder
  • 50g of dark chocolate (better unsweetened)
  • olive oil or butter
  • salt and pepper
Sides
  • tortilla chips
  • potatoes
  • corn grains
  • parsley
Directions
  1. Start by browning the cubes of meat, add salt and pepper to the meat then in the pot used for making the stew, high heat, brown each side of the meat cubes in olive oil or butter
  2. Add the carrot, mini onions, garlic, and cook a minute or two before adding the beef broth and scratch the bottom bits leftover by the meat
  3. Bring it to a strong simmer
  4. During that time in a blender, blend the chipotle pepper with the abodo paste it comes in and the tomato puree/paste
  5. Add the blended chipotles to the stew with the spices (cumin, coriander, cinnamon, salt and pepper), the worcestershire sauce
  6. Let it simmer slowly, half covered for 1h30
  7. In the end, add the chocolate and check the seasonning
  8. Serve with a few corn grains, potatoes, parsley and tortilla chips

 

Enjoy!

Mexican stew

German beer beef stew with knödelnComing back from holiday in Germany and I got myself some nice cooking books, my german isn’t so good yet, so it takes forever to understand a single recipe. But the one recipe I’ve always wanted to reproduce is the famous Knödel. This potato dumpling is in so many meals up in Germany or Central Europe for that matter, it’s accompany to perfection any meal with some type of gravy or sauce, even soups. There are tons of different styles of Knödel, for example with mushrooms, meat, spinach, etc. Also, I don’t want to make the easy kind Knödel made with bread or eggs… no…no… I want to learn the difficult one made just with potatoes (cooked and raw). I have to say in those 3 books I bought, I took the version of this recipe that had the most steps. I’ve learn this isn’t so easy to make so better be well informed before starting, no?germanstewpin

German beer beef stew with knödelnFirst of all, the potato choice is important to achieve a great Knödel. You’ll need a starchy potato like Russet or a multipurpose potato like the famous Yukon or Kennebec. Truely… just the amount of starch you’ll have to calibrate yourself to make the dumplings hold depending on the type you’ll use. I’ve used this time a potato multi purpose called “agria” (in Spain) and it did need double the amount of starch from the original recipe. So the best way to know if you have the good amount of starch is to test your Knödel. You make one test and you’ll see if it still holds after 20 minute in warm water you ready to go… if not… you add a tablespoon of starch and semola. So I had to change the amounts of the original recipe, and you might probably have to adjust your recipe also. The trick is to make tests and once you reach a good mix, then you’ll keep it for life.

German beer beef stew with knödelnAs for the stew, I’ve used all German typical ingredients although it is my own recipe, not a traditional one. It’s basically a “boeuf bourguignon” but I’ve exchange the wine for a nice German dark wheat beer, add some German aromatics like caraway, juniper, laurel and parsley for my aromatics. Also to make it a touch more creamy, I add a touch of heavy cream to calm down all the strong flavors and make it onctuous.

So let’s get to it!


German beer beef stew with Knödeln (potato dumpling)

Makes 4 portions

Ingredients
For the stew
  • 600g of beef cubes of 5cmGerman beer beef stew with knödeln
  • 500 ml of dunkel weissbier (Franziskaner) or a wheat beer of your choice
  • 50ml of heavy cream
  • 30g of butter
  • 1 carrot cut into dices
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 6 mushrooms (button or else)
  • laurel leaf
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 5 juniper 
  • 1 tbsp of cornstarch (in a bit of cold water to thicken the soup in the final stage)
  • salt and pepper
The Knödel
  • 1 kg (about 8 medium sized) of “starchy” potato (ex; russet) or if you use a less starchy kind of potato (yukon,kennebec), double the amount of both semolina and starch to the mix
  • 80ml of milk
  • 1 tbsp of starch (cornstarch)
  • 1 tbsp of semolina 
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1 slice of white bread toast cut into small cubes
  • salt, pepper, nutmeg *last one optional
Directions
The stew
  1. Season with salt and pepper the beef dices
  2. Add the butter to a deep pan and bring to high heat
  3. Add the pieces of beef and brown them on each side
  4. Add the onion, carrot and aromatics (juniper, caraway and laurel)
  5. Add the whole beer
  6. Let simmer for 2h30 hours, moving it to make sure the bottom doesn’t stick
  7. In the last 30 minutes, add the mushroom
  8. In the last 5 minutes, add the cornstarch mixed with cold water to thickens the broth
  9. Check the seasonning and take off the fire
  10. Add the touch of cream
  11. Serve
The Knödel (potato dumplings)
  1. Peel and cut into small cubes the 1/2 of the potatoes
  2. Cook in salty boiling water until soft
  3. Reserve
  4. Peel and grate finely the rest of the potatoes
  5. Add to a cheesecloth, or kitchen towel and squeeze all the juice out into a bowl (let the starch separate, takes about 10 minutes)
  6. In a medium size sauce pan, warm up the milk and add the raw grated potato , the semolina, butter, salt, nutmeg and pepper and mix well (take of the fire)
  7. Make purée with the cooked potatoes and add to the mix
  8. Eliminate the water from the drained potato juice and keep only the bottom starch
  9. Add the starch to the mix and the extra cornstarch
  10. Check for the seasoning a last time
  11. Toast a piece of white bread and cut it into cubes *optional, add a piece or two in the middle of the dumplings.
  12. Make a dumpling with wet hands and add to warm (barely simmering) salty water, don’t boil or the dumplings will get destroyed
  13. At this point you make a single Knödel to test your potato mixture (optional but highly recommended)
  14. Let them in the barely simmering water for 20-25 minutes
  15. Serve with a pinch of salt and add some chives or parsley as a topping.

Enjoy!

German beer beef stew with knödeln

Boeuf bourguignon is French people favorite beef stew made out of red wine, mushrooms, carrots, onions and aromatics with a twist! Served with pasta instead of potatoes. Because why not? right?

Boeuf bourguignon on pasta
Beef Bourguignon on pasta

Boeuf bourguignon on spaghetti is a “mashup” dish, the usual ‘boeuf bourguignon’ or beef bourguignon is great with potatoes, but if you want to try something new, try this on pasta! It’s better then Bolognese my friend! I like potatoes… but my husband not so much… so he always ask me to make his boeuf bourguignon on pasta. I have to agree with him on this; with pasta it’s gives the dish a whole new dimension.Boeuf bourguignon on pasta

But either ways, the base of the recipe stays the same; braised beef cubes in a dutch oven cooked slowly in a red wine sauce. So you decide which between pasta or potatoes makes you salivate more. Also I’ve had my little Spanish touch by making a “picada” (last minutes seasoning) with parsley, garlic and olive oil just to give it a last fresh kick.

Boeuf bourguignon on pasta The beef cubes, I’ve bought, were pre-cut quite small, about 2-3cm large which isn’t ideal (in pictures), try to get bigger cubes of 5 cm, then when you’ll go in for a bite you’ll see the tender beef cubes fall apart and that experience brings so much more appeal to the dish. Also another important part is to season and sear good your beef pieces at first, make sure the pot you use is hot enough at the beginning, don’t put too many pieces at the time and resist the urge of moving the cubes too early while searing.

So let’s make that delicious beef stew the French cannot get enough of!


Boeuf bourguignon

Makes 4 portions

Ingredients

  • 400g of beef cubes of 5cm ideally
  • 100g of fresh bacon bits
  • 500ml (2 cups) of red wine
  • 2 big carrots into slices
  • 1 onion sliced or (or 6-7 pearl onions)
  • 1 garlic clove finely sliced
  • Bouquet garni (thyme, laurel, pepper, clove)
  • 3 tbsp of flour
  • 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • 250g of button mushrooms cut into quarter
  • salt, pepper
The picada *optional (goes at the end of coccion)
  • a few flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 a garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • salt

Directions

  1. In a large dutch oven, bring to high heat.
  2. Salt and pepper the meat
  3. When hot, add the olive oil and the beef, sear each side of the beef cubes until light brown (not too many at the time)
  4. When the cubes are done, add the bacon for a min
  5. Then cover lightly with flour over the meat and a touch more of olive oil
  6. Let cook the flour for a minute
  7. Add the red wine and mix well making sure the bottom is well scratched with a wooden spoon
  8. Add the onion, carrots, garlic, bouquet garni and bring to a boil
  9. Cover and turn the heat to low (or in the oven at 170°C (340f))
  10. Let simmer slowly for about 2 hours
  11. Add the mushrooms 30 minutes before the end of cooking
  12. Add salt, pepper
  13. Make the optional “picada” with all it’s ingredients in a mortar, add to the beef bourguignon 2 minutes before the end of cooking

Serve on the pasta of your choice!

Enjoy!

Boeuf bourguignon on pasta