Mary HAD a little lamb…
I know, that’s kind of mean. Western civilization is experiencing a severe disconnect between enjoyment of meat and the cognizance that animals have to be slaughtered to produce it. Long gone are the days when we experienced the magic of animal husbandry from beginning to end. Now, we see the live lobsters in the tank and someone says “doesn’t it seem cruel to just throw them in boiling water?” It’s as if they don’t realize that steers and pigs and lambs and chickens must be summarily executed to make the restaurant experience satisfying. “I like to eat meat, but I won’t eat lobster because they have to kill them.” Snooky’s world view notwithstanding, lamb is delicious.
Leg of lamb can be had for a fairly reasonable price, but is difficult to prepare by conventional means. The fat is high in stearic acid, and has a very high melting point. This means it has a tendency to burn before it melts. This phenomenon creates a lot of smoke in the kitchen, and can impart a bitter flavor to the surface of the lamb. If you try to make a pan gravy, you will most likely encounter some bitterness from the pan drippings as well. It’s as if sous vide was created to civilize what many people call “gaminess” in lamb, which probably originates from those unique characteristics of the fat.
This heading inserted for no particular reason.
Even coming out of the bag after processing, lamb has very little of the characteristic bouquet. This makes it easy to create a crust in the oven in a very short time, again preventing the charring of the fatty substances.
We’ll use this little slide show to run through the basic stuff, and then we can get to the money shots!
132Fx12 hours…so simple…
And now for the chronicles part.
It’s not just the protein that makes this all work, even though I enjoy just sitting in the kitchen and eating steak with my fingers, deftly avoiding anything green other than parsley. But the potatoes and carrots and sauces should not be neglected. I try to use sous vide as much as possible for these articles, which can actually be kind of limiting. But people come to me expecting sous vide, so that’s what I do. I make great cookies too! Take a look at the procedure for the potatoes.
Carrots are pretty much the only thing that color.
I pondered whether or not I really needed to create a slide illustrating how to make the Mint Chimichurri. I haven’t yet, but I may yet. Here’s the basic idea:
Mint, fresh, 4 oz/120g (at least 1 liter, loose).
Garlic, peeled, .5 oz./15g.
Extra virgin olive oil, 12 0z./650g.
S+P to taste.
Blend in blender until smooth, ya know. Don’t add any acid, because it will make it turn black. This is a common mistake made with Chimichurri’s great uncle, Pesto. Acid does not belong in that stuff. You heard it here first.
As for the purge…
That’s quite a bit of jus, almost 2 cups from 6 lbs. of lamb. Just think, all that jus would have simply evaporated if cooked by any other means. I ended up using it in a non-sv stir-fry, bean sprouts and mung threads, I think I used some in a pasta dish too, lamb macaroni or something…not everything makes headlines, or even deadlines.
You know how I feel about leftovers…
Watch for what happened after I cold shocked and refrigerated the lamb leg. Herb crusted steaks, an awesome lamb steak sandwich, and maybe even lamb stew…