Sunday, December 16, 2012

We attempt Julia Childs Civet de Mouton!

Picture from

A couple of years ago Michael asked Santa to bring him a copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Childs.  I believe it was the year that the movie "Julie and Julia" came out.  He had been particularly good that year so he got a copy of the cookbook.  He looked through it and always talks about how he is going to start working his way through it...

So fast forward to a few weeks ago...nothing has been made using the cookbook until I am home by myself and bored like there is no tomorrow so I tried to make mayonnaise using Julia's recipe.  Worked okay but the olive oil was too strong for this delicate recipe...must try it again with a different oil.

Fast forward again to this past Friday which was grocery shopping day.  "What do you want to eat these next two weeks?"  asked I, "how about some beef stew" came his reply.  "Regular beef stew or something different" I ask, "how about that Beef Bourguignon in the cookbook" came the reply.

So while we were grocery shopping, list in hand, we came across some lamb stew meat, not what we had planned but Julia knew!  So sitting on our stove after 5 hours and too many pots is a dish called Civet de Mouton which is basically Bouef Bourguignon made with lamb.


  • One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy)
  • 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • A crumbled bay leaf
  • 18 to 24 white onions, small
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
  • 1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered

  • Cooking Directions

    Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry.

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

    Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.

    Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons.

    In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.

    Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

    Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes.
    Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust).

    Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

    Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered.

    Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove.

    Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

    While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms.

    Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet.

    Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly.

    Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet.
    Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.

    Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms.

    Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat.

    When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.

    Wash out the casserole and return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top.

    Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.

    If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.

    Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times.

    Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley

    If you own the cookbook, please read the directions on how to cook the mushrooms, it makes a world of difference and if doing this recipe with lamb it is exactly the same but you only need to cook it in the oven for 2 hours. 

    Michael is out with a client and I keep tasting the end result...we are going to have it with rice tonight (if I am still hungry)!



    1. Yum! Good for you guys on doing this together.

      1. In all honesty we sort of did it together. Michael did a few steps in the middle but for his credit he did alot of the eatting at the end. Tonights dinner is leftovers which they say is even better than the first night!

    2. My husband taught himself how to cook out of Julia's was this delicious? Sounds as if the process of being together was the true reward!

    3. Happy New Year Colleen!
      So how was the beef Bourguignon made with lamb? I've made the beef recipe quite a few times, but the lamb sounds marvelous.

    4. Stephen, first thanks for the kick in the butt I needed to get blogging again! The recipe was fabulous, the lamb was a nice change from beef and was so very tasty!