Traditional pot-au-feu is like the French version of pot roast. Take a long-cooking cut of meat and some root vegetables and braise them until tender.
In Warm-Weather Vegetable Pot-au-Feu, Dorie Greenspan puts a lightened-up, almost-vegetarian twist on pot-au-feu. While she calls it “warm-weather”, I’m not sure this piping-hot dish would be a good choice at the peak of summer heat. But it was a very nice choice for our cooler-than-usual Spring.
A bushel of Spring vegetables goes into this dish: onion, leek, new potatoes, slender carrots, asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, and spinach. I stuck with the recommended veggies, but you could easily substitute whatever is freshest when you make this dish. I can easily see this as a dish to showcase freshly picked vegetables from a home garden.
Dorie recommends using a “spring” or “Texas” onion. I could not find either, so I asked someone at my Whole Foods. He led me to something called a Balakian Red Onion, which he described as a cross between a spring onion and a sweet onion. It was perfect!
The finishing touch to Vegetable Pot-au-Feu is an herb coulis. This is basically an herb pesto without the nuts, cheese or garlic; just minced herbs and olive oil. I used fresh basil to make a basil coulis, which was drizzled over the top. The coulis really made the dish special!
Remember a couple of weeks ago when we discussed my dislike of runny egg yolks? Well, this dish is topped-off with a poached egg with a runny yolk. The egg is to be cut into immediately after serving so the yolk can run into the broth. I decided to be brave and serve my eggs as intended; I can handle a yolk that disappears into and becomes one with the broth.
Warm-Weather Vegetable Pot-au-Feu was met with mixed reviews in my household. My husband liked the flavors well enough, but he didn’t like the big chunks of vegetables in what he considered to be a soup. He felt it was too much work to eat. Serving this in shallower bowls probably would have helped, but not completely. I really enjoyed eating this, but I had no such “soup” expectations. While I liked the flavors, I’m not sure this will be a regular at our house. That said, it is a great way to highlight Spring’s vegetables.
Warm-Weather Vegetable Pot-au-Feu is this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe.