Pot au Feu is French for “pot on the fire”. In other words, a stew or stock pot which is left cooking over the fire. In previous times, it may simply have been a cooking pot which was left over the fire, into which was thrown whatever food and scraps happened to be available. Often the meat was either scraps, or relatively poor cuts which needed a long time to cook in order to be tender. In historical terms, it was a dish for relatively poor people. Today in France, you can buy “pot au feu” meat. Expect this to be meat which reflects the historical background of this dish: relatively inexpensive and inferior cuts, which will soften with long slow cooking. While such meat is quite adequate for a Pot au Feu, feel free to use better cuts if you wish. As a Pot au Feu is historically a stew-like dish of whatever meat and vegetables were available, there are no absolute guidelines about what it should contain. However, in general it will contain beef, some bones (such as ox-tail), vegetables (such as potatoes, carrots, onions, leeks, turnips) and herbs.