What is Potjevleesch?

Mashed potatoes are often served with potjevleesch.

Literally meaning “meat pot” in its native language, French Flemish, potjevleesch is just that. A meat mixture is made from sheep, pigs, cows, rabbits and chickens, combined with onions in a clay pot and cooked in a mixture of wine, vinegar and some subtle spices like bay leaf and thyme. Once cooked, this medieval recipe is refrigerated until it cools into a frozen mass that is served cold with a hot side dish.

French fries are often served with potjevleesch.

According to the potjevleesch recipe provided online by Lille, France’s city guide, the dish dates back to at least the 14th century, when author William Tirel described the dish in a writing from 1302. This recipe dipped all the meat, however , in a boiling bath of wine, juniper berries and calf’s feet. If made at the start of a long, frosty winter, the dish can stay frozen for a few months or longer.

The dish is still enjoyed in France and other areas of Central Europe. Chefs advised in 2001 that meats be cut into chunks and thin strips. Then the layers of each are alternated in the pan, separated by raw onion rings & emdash; even at the bottom, with a little oil. After filling the pot, a mixture of wine, vinegar and a little water is added to submerge everything, along with thyme, bay leaf, salt, pepper and bay leaf. It is cooked over low heat for up to three hours to cool all the meat. The liquid should not boil, just bubble slightly.

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Before refrigeration was available, more care was needed to ensure terracotta potjevleesch was stored long enough to freeze completely, but not so long as to rot. The containers were covered after cooking and placed in a cool, dark place, usually underground. In the refrigerator, however, it should take about half a day for the liquid to transform the contents of the pot into a solid gelatinous mass full of flavor.

The final product is broken up and served on large chunks of meat. Subsequently, these are separated by the snack bar with a fork. Many chefs serve potjevleesch with hot side dishes such as french fries or mashed potatoes with gravy. Another version replicates the preparation procedures; however, only one type of meat is used to give the dish more uniformity in flavor.

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