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A Good Year: Civet de Canard {Food'N'Flix}

Food‘nFlixIt's Food'N'Flix time - where we watch movies and head  into the kitchen and cook or bake or make something based on a recipe they actually make in it or just something we were driven to make after watching it.

This month's film - A Good Year - was selected by Tina at Squirrel Head Manor. You can see her invitation: here.

What a delicious foray into life in Provence! While the wine flows freely and the scenery makes me want to buy a one-way ticket to France, food doesn't have a starring role in the movie. Wine, yes. Food, not so much. The sole exception: dinner at Francis and Ludivine's home. Francis gestures at various home-cooked dishes at the table: caviar of eggplant, headless larks, mushrooms, and, finally, civet of wild boar, marinated in red wine, and blood pressed from the carcass. And that - those few lines - was enough to launch me on a culinary adventure to make a civet for myself. 

The only thing I asked my boys: duck or rabbit? Though I chuckled to myself as I thought of Wittgenstein's duckrabbit. Is it a duck? Or a rabbit? What do you see?!? I actually hadn't thought about Wittgenstein's duckrabbit since I was getting my degree in philosophy, oh, so many years ago. Okay, enough of that! We're here to talk about food.
What's a civet, you ask? Me, too! 

Basically, it's a braise, with lots of bulbs from the onion family. The name comes from the old word for onion: cive. Ludivine made hers with wild boar; it's also commonly made with wild hare, lièvre, and duck, canard. I tried, unsuccessfully, to find fresh rabbit locally. Besides sending out Jake and Brian with a gun - which they offered to do - online and frozen were my only options. And I heard a horror story from a friend who's in the restaurant business. Recently another restaurant owner he knew ordered "fresh" rabbit and received frozen rabbit with a packing date of 2011 because it got held up in customs from China. Yuck. Duck it was!

One thing about takes three days. When I started cooking years ago, I didn't cook anything that took longer than 30 minutes. Times have changed. And this was totally worth it. I pulled from many different recipes to create this, my take on...

Civet de Canard

3 onions
1 leek
2 C sliced crimini mushrooms
1 whole duck
3 carrots cut into 1" lengths
a sturdy, full-bodied red wine
a few sprigs of thyme
a pinch of lavender
3 bay leaves
a handful of chopped parsley

freshly ground sea salt
freshly ground pepper
4 T butter
1 C organic chicken stock
2 C sliced shitake mushrooms

a half dozen fresh figs
3 T butter
3 T white whole wheat flour

Day One: Marinate the duck

Line the bowl - or tupperware dish - with sliced mushrooms and sliced leeks. Stuff the cavity of the duck with onions, then place the duck on top of the mushrooms and leeks. Add chopped onion, 5 cloves of garlic, 2 carrots cut into chunks, a stalk of celery cut the same way, a few sprigs of thyme and 3 bay leaves.

Pour the entire bottle of wine over it.

Day Two: Braise the duck

Traditionally the duck is braised in pieces. I opted to braise it whole.

In a pot large enough to hold the duck, heat up the butter. Then brown the duck, searing the skin on all sides. It will sizzle and pop. Once completely browned, lay the duck in the pot and pour the marinade over it. Add the chicken stock and sliced shitake mushrooms.

Bring the liquid to a boil, cover, and braise for 2 hours without disturbing it. Remove the lid and braise for another 30 minutes. Let cool completely and refrigerate overnight.

Day Three: Make the sauce and serve.

Remove the pot from the fridge and defat the civet. The fat will be solidified, so you can simply spoon it from the top. Don't skip this step!

Slowly heat the civet until all of the gelatinized parts have liquified, remove the duck and mushrooms. Set aside. 

Strain the sauce into a bowl, keeping the sauce but skimming off the fat. Make a roux with butter and flour. Add in the sauce, whisking until you get a smooth gravy. Season with freshly ground sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Add in a splash of French brandy.

In a medium saucepan, lay halved figs and let them caramelize. Traditionally this recipe is made with plums; I had brown figs!

Arrange mushrooms and duck on individual plates, pour the sauce over the top and garnish with caramelized figs.

I served this with mâche rosettes topped with fresh figs and drizzeled with a fig-balsamic vinaigrette. This was a glorious dinner...and it was completely worth the three day process! And instead of pouring a French red with this, I poured a Belgian-style brown ale from The Bruery called Autumn Maple. It was the perfect match!

My favorite scene...when the boys gets the girl! And my husband said, "Aren't all women irrational, suspicious goddesses with short-tempered jealousy?!" Hey! Well...probably.

Fanny Chenal: [Fanny approaches a customer who is behind a raised newspaper] Bonjour. Vous avez choisi?
Max Skinner: [lowers newspaper] I think so.
Fanny Chenal: [recognizing him] You sure you don't need more time?
Max Skinner: No, I know what I want.
Fanny Chenal: You're sure?
Max Skinner: Absolutely.
Fanny Chenal: So, what is it to be?
Max Skinner: How's the soup?
Fanny Chenal: The soup is finished.
Max Skinner: Like my job... The fish?
Fanny Chenal: We've run out.
Max Skinner: That's like me with excuses.
Fanny Chenal: Don't waste my time. Choose something we have.
Max Skinner: I would like a lifetime spent with an irrational and suspicious goddess, some short-tempered jealousy on the side, and a bottle of wine that tastes like you, a glass that's never empty.
[they kiss]
Next month, we're venturing back to the 70s with Evelyne, of Cheap Ethnic Eatz's, pick of Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? I've never heard of that movie. Should be fun.


  1. What an inspired and complicated dish. It looks delicious and I know it would have been eaten up at that feast at the Duflots.

    1. Thanks! It was delicious...and I'm using the leftover sauce in my version of a poutine today for lunch!

  2. Oh perfect! I wish we could get duck here but when I do find it it's...uh...questionable. Yours is a first class dish here! Thaks for participating :-)

  3. Your dish looks fantastic. too bad you could not get proper rabbit but I would love to try as is. A great French recipes!


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