lamb with carrot demi and leek marrow

It’s been a while since I cooked a meal for the blog, so when a leg of lamb arrived at my doorstep (care of the lovely folks at the American Lamb board), I took that as a sign that I should get my ass in the kitchen.  I’ve been on a carrot kick all spring, and I’ve made several variations of the caramelized carrot soup from Modernist Cuisine.  It occurred to me that the deep, sweet flavor of pressure-cooked carrots is not too dissimilar from that of a beef demi-glace (the thick, rich sauce that restaurants often serve over red meat).  This is undoubtedly the quickest demi-glace you’ll ever make, and I’ve gotta say, it’s fucking amazing. Vegetarians will throw a parade in my honor.

Thinking about demi-glace also got me in the mood for bone marrow.  I’ve seen a few faux marrow preparations in the past and I always find them amusing.  However, a big part of the appeal of roasted bone marrow is its decadent, gelatinous texture.  For my version, I decided to use a section of leek as a fake bone and achieve a convincing marrow texture by pressure cooking leek and onion, then setting it in a fluid gel.  The result was quite a bit darker than roasted bone marrow, but the richness and texture were spot-on.

For the recipe, keep reading…

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Reading time: 3 min

roasted chicken
Deep frying your Thanksgiving turkey is popular for a reason – it happens to be the same reason that Lipitor is popular, but that’s beside the point.  Unfortunately, every year, 10 million* Americans start house fires from attempting to fry their bird.  And in addition to the arson hazard, deep frying a turkey requires a ton of oil, which, let’s face it, you’re not going to filter and reuse.

Luckily, the folks at Char-Broil have created The Big Easy Oil-Less Infrared Turkey Deep Fryer, and were kind enough to loan me a unit for testing.  This cooker looks and works just like a conventional turkey fryer, except it uses no oil.  Instead, a ring of gas burners heat up the inside of the cooking chamber, roasting your meat evenly and allowing the fat to drip down, with no risk of flame-ups. 

Rather than test the machine with a turkey, though, I thought I’d try out a few other dishes.  Check out my video review after the jump.

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Reading time: 2 min

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“When the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
-Abraham Maslow

OK, OK, I’ve gone a little sous vide crazy lately… but can you blame me?  Perhaps the most revolutionary cooking method of our lifetimes has just poked its head into my kitchen.  It’ll take more than a few weeks and a handful of medium-rare proteins before I’m over it.

We all know that the sous vide method produces flawless (and dare I say, unparalleled) steak.  But, did you know that the same magic works on lamb?  It’s an amazing and, frankly, jolting experience to watch an incredibly tender lamb loin chop fall off the bone, only to reveal that the interior is a perfect medium-rare.  How can this be?  In order to get lamb tender enough to fall apart, you have to braise the hell out of it, right?  Wrong. That’s where sous vide comes in.  I cooked the lamb shanks at 54.5C – a precise medium rare – for 24 hours, until they were just barely clinging to the bone.  And since lamb is so flavorful and succulent on its own, a simple slice of pita bread, some feta cheese and toasted tomatoes were all that was needed to create a really memorable dinner.

Makes: 4 little lamb wraps
Total kitchen time: 15 minutes active, 24 hours cooking
Special equipment required: sous vide immersion circulator, blowtorch (optional), vacuum sealer

Shopping list:

  • 4 American lamb loin chops
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 pieces pita bread
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
  • 1 cup roasted tomatoes (available in finer grocery stores, substitute sun dried tomatoes)

 

  1. Heat your sous vide immersion circulator to 54.5C.
  2. Pat the lamb chops dry and coat liberally with kosher salt.  Sear all sides with a blowtorch until just browned.  If you don’t have a blowtorch (you should get one if you’re gonna be sous videing) preheat a skillet over very high heat.  Sear the lamb chops on all sides, just a few seconds per side.
  3. Place lamb chops in a vacuum sealer bag and seal.  Place in the water bath and cook 24 hours, up to 32 hours.
  4. When ready to serve, heat the pita slices for 30 seconds in the microwave.  Divide the Feta and tomatoes between the pita.  Remove lamb from the water bath and pull the meat apart with your fingers or a fork.  Add to the pita.  Roll and serve!

It’s a little jarring at first to see shredded lamb that’s so bright pink and moist.  But one bight of this dish will make you forget every lamb sandwich you’ve ever eaten.  Rather than tough, dry meat that begs for the rehydrating action of mint jelly, this is lamb as it should be.

Full Disclosure: I got free stuff, but that doesn’t pay for my opinion.

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