First post of 2015! I figured I’d start this year with a lamb recipe. Lamb season is not nearly there yet but I couldn’t wait, exciting times ahead! Anyways, I also wanted to make a dish that featured sous vide cooking for my friends at our dinner party 2 weeks ago. This recipe is inspired by the modernist cuisine folks. Its preparation takes about 24 hours including prep and curing time but with some organization and planning it’s actually quite simple and totally worth it! Please join me on Instagram btw!
A roasted leg of lamb is in my opinion, the most delicious lamb cut. The meat is extremely tender, juicy with a delicate flavor that can be highlighted with herbs and garlic. A leg of lamb, bone in, might need 3-4 hours to roast until the core reaches 130F (in a conventional oven), for those of you who like rare lamb (like me!). What happens with oven roasting is that usually, the core will be rare, but the surface will be cooked to medium. Not the end of the world of course and extremely delicious regardless, but if looking for a perfect rare finish across the whole cut, sous vide is the way to go. Sous vide cooking times for this cut were all over the place when I searched online. I went with a short cooking time of 8 hours, that’s short for those familiar with sous vide cooking (I’ve experimented with longer cooking times and the meat tend to dry out), a leg of lamb should be treated like chicken breast, cooked long enough to get the core temperature where you want it, and a bit longer to pasteurize but then stop, otherwise, the meat will dry out. Ok, enough of this sous vide cooking stuff, let’s get into it while I still have energy to type!
Ingredients (serves four):
1 boneless leg of lamb (approximately 3 kg)
Lamb Cure Mix:
2 Tbsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp chopped rosemary
2 Tbsp garlic paste
300g shelled pistachios
200g pistachio oil or (100g walnut oil + 100g almond oil)
1.2g Xanthan gum
salt to taste
Slow Roasted Onions and Shallots:
1 large white onion
4 large shallots or small Spanish onions
enough salt to cover the shallots
The pistachio puree. Shell all the pistachios… yes, extremely annoying and plan on going nowhere for at least one hour. Discard the shells. Place the shelled pistachios in a pressure cooker or cooking pot. Add enough water to cover them, add a little salt (if the pistachios were already salted , don’t add any). If pressure cooking, cook for 20 min. If cooking in a pot, boil for about 1 hour, covered. Strain. Add the pistachios and oil to blender. While the blender is running, add the xanthan gum. The xanthan gum will stabilize the emulsion for a long time and give the puree a silky texture while also thickening it a bit. Blend for a good amount of time.
The longer, the finer the result will be. I probably blended for a good 10 min. You will need a spatula since the puree is too viscous to blend fluidly (it’s not a smoothie). Stop the blender, stir the puree around and blend some more until everything is pureed. Adjust seasoning while blending. Once ready. Strain the puree through a fine sieve or chinoise and reserve in a jar. This puree can be made a couple of weeks in advance if kept in the refrigerator which is very convenient.
Cooking the lamb. Let’s tie up this roast first. To give it shape and ensure even cooking. In a large ziplock bag, add the cure mix. Place the lamb leg inside the bag, and distribute the cure mix evenly over the surface of the meat. Store in the fridge overnight and let the cure mix work its magic. The next day, rinse the mix off the lamb before cooking. Also rinse the bag to reuse it. Once you’re ready to sous-vide the lamb (I don’t even know if sous-vide is a verb) Vacuum seal (water displacement method is fine) and cook in a water bath at 130F for 5-8 hours. Another approach is to cure and cook at the same time. I like this approach when I’m running short on time and have to get things reading within the same day. Any jus released in the bag will be throw away though because the curing mix will make it extremely salty.
Remove the meat from the bag, rinse and dry with paper towels. Reserve any lamb jus contained in the bag for another use. Sear on a cast iron skillet or stainless steel one. If you chose to cook the lamb with the curing mix in the bag, brush some of the excess salt away and pat dry with paper towels before searing. I don’t bother picking out the rosemary leafs. Those sear well, they’re very resilient and actually develop a nice flavor and crispiness which adds texture contrast. Keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.
Slow roasting the shallots and the onions. Preheat the oven at 240F (the modernist cuisine guys go for 220F, but I can’t sit by my oven for 12 hours, 240F makes it about 8 hours, a little less enslaving). Place the shallots in a deep tray, I used a metal coffee mug, the shallots aren’t that big. Mix the water and salt, the salt should have the consistency of damp sand. Make a layer of salt at the bottom of the container, place the shallots over it, and then cover the shallots with the rest of the salt. Like I mentioned, cook for 8 hours, oven door cracked. The onions go in there as well. Quarter the onion, remove the outer layer of dry skin. On a flat tray, add some vegetable oil, place the onion quarters over it. Place this tray in the oven along with the shallots. They too will cook for 8 hours. After 8 hours, remove the shallots and the onions from the oven. Reserve the salt for any use, it’s been infused with shallot flavor, don’t throw away that! Peel the outer skin layers from the onions and the shallots and reserve until ready to serve. You can place them in a warm oven along with the roasted lamb.
Plating. Using your sharpest slicing knife, fillet the roast against the grain, in the shape of medallions. Place an onion quarter per plate, along with a shallot. Add a couple of tablespoons of pistachio puree and garnish the medallion with a mint leaf. Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and serve right away! Enjoy! Ciao!
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Wow!!!! The final result looks amazing!!!!
thanks Laura!!! 🙂
Happy New Year, Paul and good to see you back! Yet another gorgeously prepared decadent dish. Not only is the meat spectacular but also the pistachio puree is brilliant!
Fae! Happy New Year indeed! It’s good to hear from you!, what’s new? I’ve been a bit of a stranger lately, work, living in vancouver, and many other hobbies that require attention keep me a bit tied up 🙂 I’m cooking constantly but find it hard to find the time to photograph and write up. But I will keep doing it. Yesterday was my 3rd year anniversary here at wordpress, crazy! I forgot to mention it hahah. Anyways, thank you so much for your kind comments, its really great to hear from you!
Happy Anniversary! My third year is coming up in three months. 🙂
yay! thanks Fae! It’s been so long already haha
Great job, this looks fantastic! Happy 2015 to you 🙂
What a way to start 2015! Beautifully plated and I’m sure absolutely delicious.
Thanks Karen! so glad you liked it! Happy 2015 🙂 wish you an awesome year
Lovely work Paul! I’d love to cook more lamb but my wife is not a huge fan unfortunately.
one question, you actually rinse the meat after cooking? Why is that? I usually just pat it dry and sear it.
Thank you! The reason I rinse the meat is to remove the residual salt on the surface. The salt from the cure mix. If it does in the bag after 12 hours of curing, with that reminder salt on, the lamb will turn out over salted. I’m going to clarify this a little better, thanks for your feedback!
I reworded that section a bit. Please, let me know if it is better or still confusing. I tend to be a bit confusing with my explanations sometimes!
Paul, you need to work for a food magazine. Really. Your photos always inspire me.
Patty! ah, so sweet. Thank you! 🙂 How are you doing? I’ve been MIA again.. it’s hard to find the time!
Paul, you and me both. It has been about a month since I’ve been on WP myself. It’s always nice to see you on here!
Gorgeous piece of lamb. 8 hours! That’s a great dine to come home to. We can get lamb legs at quite a reasonable price here so we do it every now and then, even if we don’t have any guests. Nothing quite like leftovers the next day. What is the purpose of having the oven door cracked? Doesn’t that let a lot of heat escape and also heat up the house? It’s summer here so I can’t imagine doing anything that might warm up the house more.
Hello again! it’s been a long time 🙂 I hope you’re doing great! thank you for your comment and feedback! The purpose of leaving the oven door cracked, it helps dehydration, less water, faster caramelization. It’s only a little bit cracked, we still the the oven hot. And it is cold up here in Vancouver, so the oven heat is very welcome 🙂 I couldn’t imagine cooking anything in my oven during summer here!!! Totally agree!
Thanks for clarifying. I use my oven year round but I have all the doors and windows open!
I just made this page SEO friendly. This is just a test message! Have a great weekend guys!
I have a 10 lb bone in leg. Will 8 hours still work? If not how long? Thanks!
Hi Gregory, you should double the time. If you’re trying to get it ready by tomorrow, just sous vide overnight… 16-20 hours should do. Hope it’s not frozen. In which case you need to defrost prior to going in the bath to be able to time it right I would say.
Thanks Paul, It’s not frozen. I appreciate the fast response!
of course! let me know how it turns up! 🙂
Paul, thanks for the info!!! It was the star of Thanksgiving!!! So much so my mom asked me to host Christmas.
yes!!! that’s what I like to hear! thank you for trying it out! Good luck with Christmas, Greg!!!