Saturday, May 28, 2016

24-Hour Leg of Lamb

I have never seen a leg of lamb before, and I was stunned when Wes brought one home from the Handymart, a small market with its own butchershop in Burbank.  Thankfully, it actually fit into our fridge.  As I hurried to make room for it, Wes told me of his extravagant plans for this bone-in, six-pounder of meat.  To get that tender, fall-off-the-bone, medium rare action, sous vide was the best route to go.  After a full 24 hours in the sous vide machine, it went into the oven.  Then, it was glazed in its juices and showered with glassy deep-fried herbs and caraway seeds.

And then, we feasted.  (Well, not before Wes took a few minutes to fashion a photo studio out of our dining table)

I know what you're thinking... how the hell did we sous vide this huge-ass piece of meat??  So, I always thought that the gallon-size Ziploc bag was the biggest that they make them.  Wes proved me wrong when he brought back a box of Ziploc bags half the size of a pillow case.  They looked so ridiculous, but it is the only non-restaurant supply store thing that you could sous vide a whole leg of lamb inside of.

Wes tends to like these long-hauled cooking processes, the more gadgets that he can incorporate, the better.  I am the opposite - I like to keep it simple; I like it homey, I shy away from large unwieldy pieces of protein, and I limit the amount of machinery that I will need to wash (or figure out how to operate).  Even the list of ingredients for this particular recipe was enough to turn me off - grams??  Who measures stuff out in grams for cooking?!  Fortunately for Wes, he was able to gleefully bust out his nifty stainless steel kitchen scale that I wondered when we'd use.  He even got to visit the store and buy oversized ziplocs and take a stroll down the artisanal ice cream aisle at the Handymart.  Fortunately for me, I benefited from that last part.

Wes selected a Chefsteps recipe for the lamb and it turned out fantastic.  Of course, I made the sides: fingerling potatoes with olives, capers, and anchovy vinaigrette and roasted eggplant with cumin yogurt sauce.  The yogurt sauce was good with the lamb as well.

Leg of Lamb with Crispy Herb Medley

Score the meat.

Combine mustard seed, salt and pepper and rub into meat

Bag the meat and sous vide at 55C for 24 hours.

Sleep or put together a puzzle.  In other words, kill 24 hours of time.

Prepare to deep fry mustard seeds, caraway seeds, and herbs.  Heat up the frying oil to 300F and pick the leaves off the stems.

Fry: parsley, mint, and rosemary for 60 seconds at 300F (in batches if necessary); mustard seeds for 3-4 minutes at 325F; and caraway seeds for 60 seconds at 325F.

Mix fried herbs and seeds.

Remove lamb onto roasting pan and transfer the bag juices into a sauce pan to make the jus, using balsamic vinegar.  It'll take 20 minutes to reduce.  Then, it needs to be strained.  Heat oven to 450 and roast lamb for 10-15 minutes to build a crust.

Remove lamb and garnish lamb with glaze and fried herbs.

The fried herbs were not only beautiful, but also a delicious balance to the meat.  As thin as tissue paper, both crispy and light, they would shatter in our mouths and leave behind a wonderfully earthy flavor.

These Greek potatoes went really great with the lamb and were not that hard to make, but I will tell you that next time I may not have the patience to scrub each and every one of these little fingerlings.

Since Debbie loves eggplant, we made sure to have some on the dinner table.

And asparagus... to round out the meal.

Our niece has probably seen and smelled more gourmet food than your average 2-year-old, but if only she could have a taste!  She has no idea what she's missing out on, but just fisting the bone and making mom, dad, uncle, and auntie simultaneously jump was good enough for her.

Do we dare to make this again?  We have no idea...but we still have a bunch of those enormous Ziploc bags left!


Leg of Lamb with Crispy Herb Medley


1 leg of lamb, whole
80 g mustard powder
15 g salt
10 g black pepper

Mint, fresh, about two handfuls, as needed
Parsley, fresh, about two handfuls, as needed
Rosemary, fresh, about two sprigs, as needed
30 g mustard seed, whole
30 g caraway seed, whole
Frying oil (we used canola), as needed
500 ml balsamic vinegar

Prep time:  1 hour
Cook time:  24 hours

1. Score the meat
2. Combine mustard seed, salt and pepper and rub into meat
3. Bag the meat and sous vide at 55C for 24 hours
4. Sleep or put together a puzzle
5. Heat frying oil to 300F
6. Pick leaves off of the fresh herbs and discard the stems
7. Fry parsley, mint, and rosemary for 60 seconds at 300F.  Do this in batches if necessary.
8. Increase fryer temperature to 325F and fry mustard seeds for 3-4 minutes
9. Fry caraway seeds at 325F for 60 seconds
10.  Mix fried herbs and seeds
11.  Remove lamb onto roasting pan and transfer the bag juices into a sauce pan
12.  Add balsamic vinegar to the lamb juices and reduce by half (~20 minutes at medium-high heat)
14.  Strain glaze through a sieve
15.  Heat oven to 450 and roast lamb for 10-15 minutes to build a crust
16.  Remove lamb and garnish lamb with glaze and fried herbs.

Greek Potatoes
Recipe adapted from How to Roast a Lamb cookbook by Michael Psilakis


For the potatoes:
2 pounds fingerling potatoes, scrubbed
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cup small, picked sprigs parsley
1/2 cup small, picked sprigs dill
1/2 cup capers
18 mixed olives (I used kalamata and green), pitted and split
12 whole scallions, thickly sliced

For the vinaigrettte:
2 canned anchovies
2 shallots, thickly sliced
1/2 tablespoon dill
1/2 tablespoon parsley
4 leaves fresh mint
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

1.  Make the vinaigrette.  In a small food processor, combine the anchovies, shallots, dill, parsley, and mint.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Add the mustard, oregano, and vinegar.  Whisk together and, whisking all the time, drizzle in the olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.

2.  Put the potatoes in a large pot of generously salted cold water over high heat.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently until just crisp-tender, about 7 to 9 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and spread out on a plate.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.  Cut into rustic, bite-size chunks and season with kosher salt and pepper.

3.  In a large skillet, warm olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the potatoes (do not crowd!).  Roast the potatoes, shaking the pan, for several minutes, until the pieces turn golden.  Add the herbs, capers, olives, and scallions and shake the pan for 1 minute more, just to wilt the herbs and scallions.  Add the vinaigrette and warm through.

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