(Ragoût of Lamb with Grapes)

This was graciously contributed to The Gumbo Pages by Chef Albert Aeby of Switzerland, who describes it as a "typical recipe from the canton of Fribourg, Switzerland". He was also kind enough to provide a photograph of himself. Does he look like a chef, or what?

Here's the original recipe in French:

Saler, poivrer, fariner chaque morceau de viande, puis les rôtir de chaque côté. Déglacer avec le vin blanc et un peu d'eau.

Ajouter le bouquet garni et le mirepoix, cuire pendant une heure.

Sortir les morceaux et passer la sauce avant de la remettre à cuire, faire un beurre manié pour la liaison, ajouter le madère et les raisins trempés.

Laisser cuire pendant 15 minutes et servir dans un cassoton.

Pour 6 personnes.

Here's what the auto-translation service at Babelfish had to say about it ...


To salt, pepper, fariner each piece of meat, then to roast them each side. To thaw with the white wine and a little water. To add the furnished bouquet and the mirepoix, to cook during one hour. To leave the pieces and to pass sauce before giving it to cook, make a butter handled for the connection, to add Madeira and the grapes soaked. To let cook during 15 minutes and be useful in a cassoton.

For 6 people.

Loses a bit in the translation, eh? He also writes this recipe for a fellow chef, and not for a home cook. But here goes ...

Okay, "bouquet furnished" is a bad translation of the typical French culinary term "bouquet garni", which means a bundle of herbs tied together. In traditional French cooking, this consists of a few sprigs each of parsley, thyme, bay leaf and celery leaves, tied together with some string. "Mirepoix" refers to a basic mix of aromatic vegetables used for seasoning, and consists of 2 parts finely chopped onions to one part each finely chopped celery and carrots. Make about a pound of mirepoix, I'd guess: 8 ounces of onions, and 4 ounces each of celery and carrot.

"Roast" them each side means sear after salting, peppering and dredging the lamb in flour, because this is being braised in white wine and a little water. After it cooks, remove the meat and pass the sauce through a fine strainer, discarding the solids and the bouquet garni.

"Butter handled" is Babelfish's lame translation of the French culinary term "beurre manié", which is a mixture of equal parts of soft butter and flour, worked together to form a smooth paste and used to thicken sauces. Make about 4 tablespoons (a little more than you'll likely need), and use it at the end of cooking, dropping very small pieces into the simmering saucfe and stirring with a whip until smooth, adding bits more until you reach the desired consistency -- a little thickeness and a slight sheen to the sauce. Add the Madeira and the grapes (about 6.5 oz., soaked in Cognac) and continue to simmer for 15 minutes, then serve in a "cassoton". I have no idea what this is, but I'm assuming it's similar to a "cassoulet" dish, or casserole dish. Sounds tasty, non?

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Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)