I wanted to make something nice with the lamb stew meat that I bought at the farmer's market and found a recipe for Civet de Mouton in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. "Mouton" translates to sheep or mutton. (And now we know why mutton is called mutton.) The only people I've ever known to eat mutton are characters in Victorian British novels, and they don't seem particularly enthusiastic about it, but lamb is very nice and seems like a luxury meat to me.
Civet de mouton is really just boeuf bourguignon, only with lamb instead of beef and a slightly shorter cooking time. You will want to prepare this on a day when you have plenty of free time, because it takes hours, but is well worth the effort.
You start with some thick hunks of bacon, which you must boil and then drain and pat dry. I'm not sure why Julia Child wants you to boil the bacon, and this isn't the first recipe of hers which calls for this. Once boiled, the bacon is browned in an enameled casserole.
Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Turn the oven on to 450, turn the heat under the casserole to high and brown the lamb in small batches. Our lamb was very fatty--so fatty that the farmer gave me an extra package for free.
Set the lamb aside with the bacon after it's browned and cook a sliced onion and a sliced carrot in the same fat. Return the meat to the casserole, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with flour. Bake in your hot oven for about eight minutes, until the flour has formed a crust around each piece of lamb.
Reduce oven temperature to 325, add lots of red wine and some beef broth and bake, covered, for about three hours. Here's how it looks when it comes out of the oven.
Strain the meat/veg from the sauce and let the sauce sit for a bit so you can skim the fat off the top. (Julia makes you wash the casserole at this point.) Brown some mushrooms in butter and braise some pearl onions in more beef broth, add to the stew, reheat the sauce, mix it all together. We served ours over egg noodles. Delicious! And probably the last stew we will eat until next autumn.