Updated February 17, 2019
These days a civet is mostly known as an Indonesian cat-like animal, properly known as the palm civet. It poops out beans it has ingested. Those beans are made into the most expensive coffee in the world called kopi luwak. As much as I would love to go on about “cat poop” coffee, or “civet cat coffee” as it is also known as, this post is about civet, as a classic, French winter dish.
Civet as the French stew is traditionally made with game animals, typically wild hare or rabbit, or sometimes wild boar. However today, chefs prefer farmed animals because they are larger and meatier than wild ones. By the way, wild boars are now being farm raised in France. It’s a bit of a misnomer, calling them “wild” boars if they are raised in captivity, but they are left outside to roam in wooded areas so it is not a typical “farm-raised” scenario. Today chefs using other types of meats as well. The traditional stringy, tough game animals were marinated in wine for 24 hours or more. They would then be flavored with onion, chives, garlic, red wine, and peppercorns. Traditionally the hare stews have distinctive dark brown broth, thickened with the little critter’s blood. The stew can also be prepared without the blood. Without the blood makes for a milder taste, but purists argue that the blood is the essence of the dish. A civet is very complex to make, requiring a long list of ingredients and simmering overnight but the result is well worth the effort.
If you are up for the challenge, here is a classic recipe: http://honest-food.net/2008/12/30/classic-civet-of-hare/
Article by Lisa Rankin, hard-core foodie, wine hound, Paris lover, and Flavors of Paris founder.