Une potée is a boiled dinner. I made mine yesterday with pork sausages smoked and plain; a slab of smoked bacon; branches de céleri (celery stalks); carrots; shallots; garlic; leek tops; half a head of chou frisé (Savoy cabbage); yellow turnips; topinambours (Jerusalem artichokes); potatoes; and chickpeas. The reason I made a potée was that the produce market in Saint-Aignan (called Terre Y Fruits) had nice heads of cabbage on sale for one euro apiece. And it was chilly, windy, and rainy outside.
Many regions of France — probably all — have their own recipe for potée. The Wikipédia article about potée lists 12 regional variations. What they all have in common is that they are made with winter vegetables. My way of cooking this one-pot meal is to cook the different ingredients separately so that I can get each vegetable cooked the way I like it.
Yesterday I started by putting the sausages and bacon in a pot of cold water with onions, garlic, shallots, leek tops, carrots, bay leaves, black peppercorns, allspice berries, and hot red pepper flakes. I set the pot on the stove, brought it to the boil, and then let it simmer for 90 minutes. At that point I took everything out of the broth, which tasted really rich, smoky, and slightly salty.
Then I cooked the cabbage in it until it was to my liking. I took the cabbage out and then cooked first the potatoes, and finally the topinambours, all in the same broth.So I had several batches of cooked meats and vegetables. I selected some of each, enough for the two of us, and put them into the broth, added some cooked beans (chickpeas this time) and reheated everything for 15 or 20 minutes.
The cooking process took all morning, but most of that time was just waiting for the meats and carrots to cook, and then waiting for the cabbage to cook. I just had to check those for doneness every 15 or 20 minutes. The house smelled great and felt warm. Serve the potée steaming hot with condiments like butter, Dijon mustard or hot pepper sauce. It's comforting food on a cold, damp, wintry day.