Sous Vide Lamb Back Strap
Sous Vide ‘Palliser Bay Station’ Lamb Back Strap
Seared to medium rare | glazed heritage vegetables | organic quinoa | kale crisps | jus (GF)
The Equipment (or ingenious substitute)
There are a couple of pieces of equipment that will make this recipe a lot easier,
but with a marginal amount of kiwi ingenuity can be done without.
- A vacuum pack machine (and some vac pac bags).
These things are just cool in all ways. I could actually stand there and watch it suck the air out of things over and over again all day. Sometimes I even vac pack things just to see how it looks…like tea towels, people’s aprons that get left lying around or their cell phones if I can get my hands on them. If you don’t, for some reason, have a vacuum pack machine, then you can just use zip lock sandwich bags. Fill a deep pot with water, add the item to a zip lock bag, and carefully submerge the item into the water until the water level reaches just below the zip lock, then seal. The water should push most of the air out.
- A sous vide machine/bath – whilst very helpful and consistent, can be substituted with a large pot, a decent digital thermometer.
- The afore-mentioned thermometer, if you don’t have one…
- A benchtop deep fryer- again, whilst helpful and kinda cool to have at home (not just for chips, but for fancy chips like ‘pommes frites’ or even’ pommes gaufrettes’ ...Look it up!)
Can be replaced with a deep pot and a controllable temperature on your oven top, and some steady hands and for the sake of OHS, a small amount of awareness and common sense. Or you can be a bit healthier and bake the products, but my way is way more hedonistic and necessarily indulgent, which I approve of.
- A good heavy based cast iron pan…complimented by a large 6 hob gas stove oven with convection fan forced deck oven or a free standing combination fan forced oven digitally set to a low humidity setting… But whatever you have will do.
- Lamb back straps x 2 – about 180 – 200g portion per person.
- One whole garlic bulb
- Fresh thyme – about 5 nice sprigs
- Organic red quinoa – 150gm dried weight
- Good quality unsalted butter- quite a bit of it to use in all areas of cooking and preparing the dish – just have a block on hand
- Some good sea salt, Marlborough sea salt is what I use because it is from NZ and it is very good quality, but you can also use Maldon salt, or ‘fleur de sel’ if you feel a need to unnecessarily blow the budget (this option only has point if you are planning and bragging about your awesome salt, otherwise don’t bother)
- Some whole black peppercorns in a pepper mill
- About 150mls of oil for sealing, marinating and coating vegetables- pomace olive oil will do, or rice bran. (not extra virgin as this has a lower flash point and a bit too much flavour for cooking)
- A decent portion of a mixture of seasonal heritage/heirloom vegetables per person- baby carrots (yellow, purple, orange…whatever) – baby turnips … (they exist) , baby beetroot, French shallots, courgette,radishes…Yams I feel like you may get the idea.
- 3 large leaves of green curly kale (again, you can use purple kale, Cavolo nero, red Russian kale, Lacianto kale, Redbor kale…..whatever)
- Approximately 2 ltrs of rice bran oil for deep frying
- 80mls of skilfully clarified and reduced beef jus reduced to a perfect viscosity and scented with a reduction of pedro ximenez(follow link to see the separate recipe for this…..actually there isn’t one…just buy somethingfrom somewhere or attempt to make it using google, pedro ximenez optional) – worst case, you could make a sauce/dressing with the juices left in the bag post cooking….
Step 1: The lamb…
- Garlic Oil
First things first, in advance; prepare the garlic oil by cutting the whole head of garlic in half across the globe.
Place it into a small sauce pan and add 100mls of the oil.
Place onto a very low heat and cook until the garlic is soft and the oil has infused.
Maybe about 20 minutes…depends on your oven top.
Remove the garlic and set aside. Allow the oil to cool.
- Sous Vide
Make sure the lamb is nicely trimmed with no silver sinew on it.
Place it into your designated bag for sous vide one back strap per bag.
Add 50mls of the garlic oil per bag.
Add 2 sprigs of fresh thyme per bag.
Seal the bags in your newly acquired (after reading this recipe) vacuum pack machine or just do the zip lock method….
- Either using your lovely and shiny sous vide bath or your scrappy, old deep pot filled with water and a rusty thermometer bring the temperature of the water to 50°C.
Once at temperature, place the bags in the water and maintain the temp as accurately as possible, keep the lamb in there for 2 hours.
This process can be done 1 or 2 days in advance. No one will know.
Step 2: The Vegetables & Quinoa
This part of the recipe takes a little bit of interpretation as well as a bit of initiative.
Choose your vegetables, and then choose your cooking styles depending on what you like and also on the weather… ours is an ‘autumnal’ dish so we use a mixture of braised, glazed and roasted veg.
For example we:
- Roast baby carrots with the skin on (after a good scrub) lightly coated in oil and seasoned with sea salt and cracked pepper on 180° for 12 minutes.
- Bake baby beetroots on a bed of rock salt wrapped in foil for about 1 – 1 ½hours on 165°, then peel them whilst still hot, then re-heat in the oven with a knob of butter and a bit more seasoning
- Glaze baby turnips, skin on (washed…) in a heavy based sauce pan with a bit of butter, a bit of oil and some seasoning , moving around in the pan every so often for about 30 minutes or until tender and golden.
- Seal and roast French shallots by cutting in half, skin on, and sealing the flesh side in a hot pan until almost black, then baking in the oven with a bit of oil and seasoning for about 15 minutes on 180° or until tender, then we remove the skin andfinish in the oven with a knob of butter
- Sometimes, we cut chunky ‘rondelles’(rounds) of courgette and blanch them in a ‘beurre monté’ (a method of emulsifying butter )
- Take the set aside garlic halves and finish them in the oven on 180° for about 5 minutes
- Once tender, drain any residual water from the quinoa, discard the thyme sprig, add the quinoa to a bowl and mix into it about 2 tsp of butter and season to taste.
Step Three: The Kale…
There are two options here. Both of them require that you take out the big stem that runs most of the way up the leaf by using a sharp knife and slicing down either side.
To deep fry, bring the temp to 165° or medium high.
Carefully add the kale in batches. It will crackle and pop a bit but just be careful.
Using a slotted spoon or skimmer turn the leaves over after about 40 seconds to ensure even cooking. After another 30 seconds or so, remove from the oil and lay onto paper towels to drain. Lightly season and test one or two to see if they are crispy and delicious, if so, test one or two more. (That is what the third leaf is for!)
Alternatively, lightly coat the prepared leaves in oil, season and bake on 165° for approximately 4 minutes or until crispy and still delicious but not quite as delicious…
Step Four: Dish Construction (finally)
- Make sure your:
- Vegetables are hot.
- Quinoa is hot (if pre done, just chuck it in the microwave for a minute)
- Kale is crispy ( it should stay crispy for about 36 hours)
- Lamb back strap is at room temp.
- Plates for serving are warm to hot.
- Put a pan on a hot element or gas hob and get it cranking with a bit of the remaining oil.
- Remove the lamb back straps from the bags and onto a paper towel to ensure they are dry.
- Season the lamb generously.
- Carefully place into the hot pans and working very quickly, seal both sides. Add a knob of butter and remove from the heat. This should all of happened within the space of about 1 minute.
- Using a spoon, and still working quickly, tilt the pan a bit and glaze the lamb with the frothing melted butter. Then remove the lamb from the pan onto another paper towel to rest.
- Meanwhile, chuck the quinoa onto your plate so it looks like you dropped it….but don’t drop it…
- Arrange your veg onto the plate in the same fashion…
- Quickly carve the back strap into four to five chunks and arrange on the plate…in the same way…
- Then, decorate with big shards of crispy kale.
- Finally, dress the dish with either the amazing, well looked after jus that you prepared over three days, or with a dressing made from adding the juices from the sous vide bag into the hot pan that you just sealed the lamb in and whisking it into a luscious sauce to drizzle over the top.