Simca’s Lamb Stew with 140 Cloves of Garlic

The legendary cooking teacher and cookbook author Simone Beck died on this date in 1991. Known as Simca, she was the charming French woman who co-authored Mastering the Art of French Cooking with Julia Child and Louisette Bertholle. Upon hearing of her passing, Child praised her good friend. “We called her La Super Francaise, because she was so French: a wonderful teacher, wonderful enthusiasm.” Simca also wrote three books on her own and was played by the actress Linda Emond in the movie Julie and Julia (shown below with Meryl Streep as Julia.)

The lamb stew recipe below calls for a staggering 140 cloves of garlic. The trick, according to Beck, is to use the garlic unpeeled. She claimed that there is more true flavor in the skin than what’s inside. (This is the first I’ve ever heard of this.) As this stew is cooked slowly at a relatively low temperature, the garlic is quite mild.

Simca’s Lamb Stew Provencal
4-5 lbs. lamb shoulder
4-5 T. olive oil
2 1/2 T. herbes de provence
1 1/2 c. dry white wine
4-5 head of garlic (140 cloves, unpeeled)
1 1/2 c. veal stock
2 oz. butter
2 T. finely minced fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Bone lamb, remove excess fat and cut into 3 1/2 inch cubes. Heat olive oil in a large pan that will allow you to lamb in one layer.

Saute slowly to brown lamb on all sides, turning often. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and dried herbs. Add the white wine allowing it to bubble before adding unpeeled garlic cloves and 1/2 c. veal stock (or enough to cover meat).

Cover the meat tightly with parchment paper and then the lid. Place lamb in oven and cook adding small amounts of veal stock as needed to keep the meat moist. Cook for about two hours. Meat should be tender but not stringy.

Strain the liquid and garlic from the meat. Press the garlic through a sieve of colander to extract essence of it, leaving behind the skins. Garlic will be a thick puree. Remove fat from the the sauce. Add garlic then reduce by boiling if necessary. Add butter. Arrange the lamb on a warm serving plate and pour the sauce over top, rolling the pieces of the lamb in the sauce to coat. Sprinkle all with parsley.

Beck recommends green beans sauteed in butter as an accompaniment.


2 responses to “Simca’s Lamb Stew with 140 Cloves of Garlic

  1. hmmmmm. I’m going to try this. Do you have any advice on how to peel 140 cloves?

  2. That’s the brilliant thing … you don’t have to peel them. The peel comes off after you cook them when you pass the garlic through a sieve.

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