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Sous Vide: Australian Rack of Lamb

Almost all land and air dwelling proteins benefit from sous vide processing. Domestic/imported lamb is no exception.

Ingredients

Australian rack of lamb, one each, approximately 17 oz/475 g.
Kosher salt, 1-2 teaspoons.
Ground black pepper, a pinch.

Optional components, as pictured:

White bean ragout:

White beans, dried, 0.5 cups/120 ml.
Celery, fine diced, 1 oz/30 g.
Carrots, fine diced, 1 oz/30 g.
SOUS VIDE PORK BELLY, (or bacon), diced, 2 oz/30 g.
STOVETOP ESPAGNOLE (or equivalent), 2 oz/60 ml.

Molasses vinegar reduction:

Molasses, 0.5 cups/120 ml.
White vinegar, 0.5 cups/120 ml.
Garlic powder, a pinch.

Brandied Cherries:

Cherries, fresh, 1 cup.
Sugar, 1 cup.
Brandy, 0.25 cups/60 ml.
Kosher salt, a pinch.

Tomato vinaigrette:

Tomato paste, 1 oz/30 g.
Vinegar, 1 oz/30 g.
Sugar, 1 oz/30 g.
Salt, 1 teaspoon.
Vegetable oil, 1 cup/225 ml.

Pan roasted cauliflower:

Cauliflower, cut into small pieces, 2 oz/60 g.
Vegetable oil, 1 oz/30 ml.
Kosher salt, a pinch.

Potato chips, 1-2 per plate.

Equipment requirements

Immersion circulator, portable or stationary.
Heat rated container, minimum of 2 gallons/8 liters.
Heat rated sous vide bags.
Channel or chamber vacuum device.
Small sauce pan.
12″/300 mm skillet.
Propane torch.

Optional
Stick blender.
Squirt bottles.

How do you like your lamb?

Because of the pasteurization capabilities of sous vide, lamb can be safely served at almost any level of apparent doneness, as preferred by the practitioner. Here are some basic temperature setting guidelines:

Rare: 129 F/54 C.
Medium rare: 135 F/57 C
Medium to Medium well: 140 F/60 C.
Well done: 150 F/74 C.

In use above: Lipavi L10 rack, Lipavi C10 container with lid custom cut to accommodate Anova Precision Cooker.

Serves 2-3
Level of difficulty: 2.0

Procedure:

Preheat the water in your sous vide bath to the temperature that most closely matches your preference.

Processing the rack

After vacuum sealing the rack of lamb, process at the appropriate temperature for 4-8 hours, as per your scheduling convenience. There is no “moment” before which the rack of lamb is not ready and after which it is overcooked. Even though the process of tenderization continues, the conversion of collagen to gelatin at sous vide temperatures is extremely slow–a difference of 2-3 hours is usually undetectable to the diner. As the temperature increases, the tenderization process accelerates. Even so, a rack of lamb processed at 140 F/60 C for 8 hours will not be noticeably different than one that was processed for 4 hours.

While you are waiting for the lamb, prepare whatever you plan to serve as accompaniments–we have a detailed explanation of this presentation outlined below. Once the lamb has been removed from the sous vide bath, it will be ready for service within half an hour.

After processing

Remove the rack from the pouch and pat dry. For the purposes of this demonstration, we cut the rack into three equal sections. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Preheat the skillet to 275 F/135 C and add enough oil to coat the bottom.

Put the rack in the pan fat side down and sear until the desired color is achieved–usually between 30 seconds and 1 minute. Use tongs to push down the surface covering the bones so that it browns evenly.

Turn the rack on its side briefly to sear the ends.

Turn the lamb over and use the torch to sear the other side for 10 seconds. If you do not have a propane torch, you can use the broiler function of a conventional oven to sear the “under” side of the rack. Remove from the hot pan and allow to rest on a plate.

Service

Cut the racks along the bone and shingle on the plate from right to left. Note the uniform appearance of doneness. This is a feature specific and almost unique to sous vide processing.

Optional components:

Feel free to present and serve your lamb as per your preference–this protein stands on its own and requires very little elaboration. If you would like to duplicate this presentation, continue reading!

Start the day before

White bean ragout:

Cook the beans as per the package directions–this process may take longer than the lamb itself, so some advance planning is required. When the beans are done, drain well, rinse with cold water and refrigerate.

The day of service

Brown the diced sous vide pork belly (or bacon) until fully rendered and crisp. Add the celery and the carrots and cook on medium heat until slightly browned. Drain and reserve the rendered fat. Combine the beans, carrots, celery, stove top espagnole and half of the pork belly. Heat and set aside to keep warm.

Molasses vinegar reduction:

In a small sauce pan, combine the molasses, white vinegar and garlic powder. Bring to a boil and reduce to no more than one half of the original volume–almost as thick as the molasses was at the beginning. Be careful not to scorch! Store in a squirt bottle or small container.

Brandied Cherries:

In a small sauce pan, combine the cherries, sugar, brandy, and kosher salt. Bring to a simmer and cook until the cherries are soft and the syrup is slightly thickened. Refrigerate until day of service–they can be plated cold.

Tomato vinaigrette:

Add the tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, salt, and vegetable oil, to a tall, narrow 16 oz/475 ml glass or beaker. Insert the stick blender all the way to the bottom and start to form the emulsion. Do not lift the stick blender up. Continue blending until almost all of the oil has been pulled into the vinaigrette. After a few minutes, the tomato colored oil will accumulate to some degree at the top. This creates the effect as pictured above. Store in a squirt bottle.

Pan roasted cauliflower:

After (or while) searing the lamb, brown the cauliflower in the skillet, remove from pan, season with kosher salt.

Presentation

Drizzle the plate with the molasses vinegar and a little of the brandied cherry syrup.

A square cookie cutter can be used to help the beans hold their shape. Use a slotted spoon to minimize excess liquid. Rinse the slotted spoon and use it to arrange a couple of cherries next to the beans, allowing a little of the syrup to pool underneath them.

Place the cauliflower next to the beans and arrange the lamb chops on top. Sprinkle the remaining pork around the plate.

Drizzle the plate with more molasses vinegar and brandied cherry syrup.

A little altitude turns a tapestry into sculpture.

Arrange the potato chips on top.

Norm King

 

 

 

About

While this dish may appear complex, sous vide processing of the lamb itself is much simpler and more predictable than by traditional methods. This gives the enthusiast more time and opportunity to plan for vibrant presentations without all the last minute scurrying that plagues most aspiring amateurs--should he/she choose to do so. The best chefs never seem hurried at all, and that is the difference between professionally educated craftsmen and the so called "self trained" chefs that now populate the webscape.

Sous vide can make even the minimally disciplined among us duplicate the amazing results formerly limited to the finest restaurants and hotels.

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