Pot-au-feu in three acts
Act I – Dispose a piece of the three different meats, previously poached for long hours in a tasty broth, in the center of a bowl plate, with the steamed vegetables around, as a crown;
Act II – Previously, you would hade made a jelly disc, of about the diameter of the bowl, with a sufficient quantity of clarified broth, and place this veil on top of the meat and vegetables;
Act III – Bring the plate at the table with a little pot of hot broth, and pour slowly the broth onthe jelly veil and watch the broth jelly dissolving and mixing with the hot broth. Dig into it!
Three acts… and a long preamble
The preamble, like for all pot-au-feu, consists in poaching and simmering the meat, ideally three different cuts combining fatty, gelatinous and meaty textures (here short ribs, oxtail, beef shoulder plate butt) plus a couple of marrow bones, for long hours in water flavored with bones, aromatizing vegetables, herbs, spices, and of course the meat itself… Since pot-au-feu ia a two-dish recipe, a broth and a meat and vegetable dish, there has been an eternal debate about whether putting the meat in cold water, thus ensuring a better broth , or putting it in boiling water, thus privileging the meat taste… I have tried both ways and never found a significant difference, as this was confirmed by molecular gastronomy studies… That said, the recipe by Thierry Marx , a 2-star chef who is also very engaged in teaching cooking to convicts in prisons, may reconciliate every camp. Inspired by his childhood memories, where the meat was grilled in the fireplace before being poached in cold water, he grilled his meat before. This is what I did, grilling int on a wood fire on each side, which brings the meat and the broth a subtle but exciting smokey taste. The jelly veil is also an idea that I borrowed from Thierry Marx. The vegetables (potaoes, carrots, purple daikon radishes, celeriac...) were steamed above the broth. For the record, the marrow was eaten separately. And as French people like to eat pot-au-feu with coarse salt added at the last moment, I spread fleur de sel on the plate rim.