In winter, the ingredients for pot au feu appear pre-packed in every supermarché in France: the leeks, celery, onion (which some cooks char first to make a darker broth), carrots, and turnips.
You can find the cheap cuts of beef (gîte, gîte à la noix, joue de bœuf, jarret, plat de côtes, paleron, macreuse à pot-au-feu or jumeau à pot-au-feu are all good) and oxtail or marrow bone (os à moelle) on the butcher counter, especially in winter. Add a bouquet garni and cloves (inserted in an onion), and boil the meat for hours, throw in the veg, and serve.
Some families serve the broth as a soup course, followed by the rest of the pot au feu with a good dollop of mustard.
During the Great Depression, pot au feu was often served in soup kitchens or distributed to those in need, even by celebrities like Josephine Baker.
Images by Agence de presse Mondial Photo-Presse , Andre