Food escapades in modernist cuisine

24 Hour Sous Vide Leg of Lamb with Cous Cous

Over the weekend, my wife and I had to make a stop at BJ's to stock up on paper supplies and toilettries and while we were there, we picked up a small piece of boneless leg of lamb for around 6 dollars a pound. I don't cook leg of lamb that often and the one time I did a few summers ago over my parents' house on their propane grill, it didn't turn out quite as tender as I would have liked. This time around I wanted to try cooking it sous vide.

Since my wife and I were just cooking for the two of us, we cut the 3 pound leg of lamb into two pieces, reserving about a third to be frozen for a future use. I also butterflied the meat to make it more even and also allow for more surface area to be marinated.

I threw together a quick marinade using my Vitamix and blitzed together one head of garlic, a handful of dried rosemary, salt, pepper, onion powder, olive oil, and ground coriander until a loose paste formed. To a large ziploc bag I added the leg of lamb and then slathered the marinade all over the meat.

Using the water displacement method, I removed as much air as possible from the ziploc bag and then threw it in my sous vide tool to begin cooking. I have an old school Sous Vide Supreme, but there are many better, cheaper sous vide options available now such as Joule and Anova. I went back and forth on the time and temperature to use for the cooking based on conflicting research. In a video on youtube, Douglas Baldwin cooked his leg of lamb at 130 degrees for 24 hours. In Volume 6 of Modernist Cuisine under "Best Bets for Cooking Tough Cuts", leg of lamb isn't listed as a protein but lamb shoulder is with a recommended temp of 133 degrees for 48 hours. Then I found a post on the Serious Eats blog that recommended between 8-12 hours of cooking time, advising against anything over that due enzymatic forces adversely affecting the texture of the meat. Ultimately, I decided to go with 133 degrees for 24 hours.

24 hours later after I came home from work, I pulled the leg of lamb out of the water bath. When I opened up the bag, a super intense, garlicky aroma hit me in the face. I was a bit concerned at first, worried that I created a garlic bomb by putting too much garlic in the marinade, but after tasting the meat later, it was actually perfect. After removing the meat from the bag, I tried off the meat and quickly seared it in a hot pan.

After the meat developed a nice brown crust, I removed the meat from the pan and let it rest. Using the same pan I used to sear the meat, I added the leftover juices and oil from the zip loc bag to make a quick sauce. To this, I added a few spoonfuls of dijon mustard along with some white balsamic vinegar in order to make a vinaigrette of sorts.

Meanwhile, in a seperate pot on the stove, I brought some water to a boil to cook some cous cous. Cous cous is probably one of the easiest side dishes you can make and takes hardly any time at all. Once the cous cous absorbed the water, I seasoned it with some salt and pepper and mixed in some dried cranberries.

Overall, this dish was very tasty and I would absolutely make it again. My wife who typically does not enjoy lamb ended up going back for extras. The lamb was incredibly tender and not too gamey. The quick sauce we made also paired nicely with it, providing a little acidic kick from the mustard and vinegar. Cous cous and lamb naturally make sense together, but the dried cranberries also added a nice touch with just a little sweetness.


jUUggernaut said...

Is the meat eaten cold?

Barnaby said...

I used a similar approach and served hot, it was fantastic! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Michael said...

Just completed a meal with leg of goat. I used a different mixture of herbs going with rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper, and a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Then cooked at 131 for 27 hours and seared it in a pan using ghee. It came out perfectly. Served it with a mint pesto and made a gravy from the bag juices, wine, thyme, balsamic glaze, and butter. Thanks so much for posting!

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