Before proceeding, take a look at a quick version of how to prepare.
Chop one half of the onion, and then cut the other half, the carrots, the celery and the potatoes into bite size pieces. Use a paring knife to shape the celery, carrots, and potatoes. I think of it as removing sharp edges, and I try not to remove more than five slivers for each piece. This is not necessary for the recipe to succeed, but it’s kind of fun if you have the time.
Set the vegetables aside and cut the lamb into bite size pieces. Brown the lamb on medium high heat. Avoid over stirring; this common nervous habit cools the pan and actually prevents browning. Add the chopped onions and reduce heat and let the onions brown a bit as well, same method–avoid over stirring.
Remove the lamb and onions from the pan and combine with the celery, carrots, and potatoes in a 1 gallon Ziploc freezer bag. Add two cups of water to the bag and lower into the rack that has been placed in the
183F/84C bath, process for 2 hours.
Note: after two hours, you can lower the heat to 135F/57C and hold for several hours until you are ready for service.
Add the trim from all the vegetables EXCEPT the potatoes to the pan with a little oil, and brown over medium heat. Allow half an hour for this step; this creates the color. Add the tomato sauce, continue to brown, then a little flour, and half of the stock or water. The sauce will thicken immediately, but it is not done. Add the rest of the water, simmer and strain after two hours.
Bring .5 cup/120ml neutral oil to
in a pot with high sides, turn off heat, and carefully add 1 cup/150g flour. Avoid splashing, the flour will sizzle and foam. Stir gently with a wooden spoon until the flour is dissolved in the oil. Set aside to cool slightly. When you strain the sauce, press on the vegetables to squeeze out the remaining juice. Adjust thickness by adding 1 oz./30ml roux. Strain the juice from the sous vide bag into the sauce, return to simmer, and taste. Set the meat and vegetables aside on a flat surface so their weight does not damage their shapes. Continue simmering the sauce.
If the stew is too thin, you can add a little roux–1 or 2 tablespoons, not much, it is very powerful. Return to simmer for 10 minutes to cook out the flour. Reserve the rest for future projects.
The stew is now ready for service. Served in a large bowl in the middle of the table makes for a comforting family meal. Plated, it still appears sophisticated. If there is still stew in the pan, transfer it to a Ziploc freezer bag, seal, and shock to 70F/21C. Refrigerate. You will find that there is no degradation of quality when reheating the next day.