Let me just say upfront, the pictures do not do justice to how tasty this meal turned out. Ideally, this would be prepared using lamb shoulder, but it is very hard to find. So I used the upper part of the leg, boneless, tied with a net to keep its overall shape. You have two options for leg of lamb: cooking it rare to medium-rare (more traditional), or cooking a lot longer, so that the meat pretty much falls off the bone (when there’s a bone). I wanted to make it sous-vide, but while doing some research, found a wide range of temperature and cooking time listed in cookbooks and websites. After hyperventilating about it for a while, I settled on 30 hours at 160 F. I am thrilled to report that it was a successful experiment. If you don’t have a sous-vide gadget, please see my comments after the recipe.
30-HOUR LEG OF LAMB WITH MASHED SWEET POTATOES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)
1 boneless leg of lamb, butterflied and tied (2.5 to 3.0 pounds)
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
4 tablespoons mustard powder
2 tsp ground black pepper
5 sweet potatoes, peeled, cut in large chunks
1 + 3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I used Aleppo pepper)
1/2 tsp Southwest Seasoning mix (I used Penzey’s)
3/4 cup light coconut milk
fresh parsley, minced (to taste)
Set your sous-vide to 160 F. Mix the salt, pepper and mustard together in a small bowl. Pat the meat dry and season all over with the spice mixture. Place inside a bag and vacuum-seal it. Place in the water-bath and cook for 30 hours. Cover the container with aluminum foil and check for water evaporation over that period of time. When 30 hours passed, remove the meat from the bag, and run under a broiler to get a nice brown roasted appearance to it. Serve immediately, the meat should be falling apart when you probe it with a fork.
For the mashed potatoes. Place the potatoes, water and seasonings in a crock pot. Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours. Warm the coconut milk in a microwave (do not boil), add to the potatoes in the crock pot, and mash with a potato masher to the consistency you prefer. Add minced parsley, adjust seasoning, and serve with the lamb.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: Some questions you might have: do I need a sous-vide for this? Well, you do if you want to come up with this exact result, but you can always follow this method to obtain a similar type of lamb, quite different from the way it is normally enjoyed. It is known as “Lamb you can eat with a spoon” and pretty much describes the meal we had. Another question could be, can I make it in 24 hours instead of 30? I’d say you probably could, but the meat would not be as tender. Sous-vide offers a real wide flexibility in terms of timing, but I would definitely go more towards 30 rather than 24 for this preparation. There are discussions on how much liquid the meat loses as you increase the temperature and the timing, so higher temperatures can be problematic for some cuts of meat. I heard of a fantastic recipe for lamb shoulder from a restaurant that cooks it at 170F for 36 hours, but keep in mind that lamb shoulder is a bit different in terms of texture. All things considered, I think the way we made it turned out pretty good. I would like to come up with a sauce to serve with it, but was unsure about using the liquid accumulated in the bag as a starting point. Will re-visit this issue soon.
The sweet potatoes were quite delicious, and paired well with the lamb. We also had green beans and almonds as another side dish, forming a fun and colorful dinner plate. Leftovers can be shredded and come back as part of a lamb ragu, coupled with a hearty tomato sauce, or part of a curry with some garbanzo beans added to the party.
If you prefer a more traditional leg of lamb, you can use 135 to 140F for 24 hours for a bone-in piece. That will give you tender meat, pink all the way through, perfect to cut in slices. I like to keep seasoning simple, but you can of course use all kinds of dry rubs or marinades before placing it in the bag.
Sous-vide is a perfect gadget for entertaining. Since timing is so flexible and after sous-vide all you need is a last-minute browning or searing, it works wonders when you have guests for dinner.
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