When I was a very young lad, we holidayed on Valentia Island, just off the Kerry coast. I still have memories of seeing a sow and her numerous porky offspring resting in the kitchen of a farmhouse. At the time, I didn’t think much about it. On reflection, they were much simpler times and we kids were happy sleeping three to a bed in our holiday home. There was no internet, no television, one channel on the radio and only a small river to amuse us children.
These memories were brought back to me when, last week, I found myself reporting to the Wife that “The lamb is in the bath”. But, pigs in the kitchen are one thing. Sheep in the washroom is a step too far, even for me. Thankfully, I was referring to the shoulders of lamb that I had just popped into the sous vide bath to begin a 36 hour cooking. Here’s what I did:
First, I browned two lamb shoulders in a little oil in the frying pan.
I took the lamb off when it was browned enough to present well after 36 hours in the bath. On that point, I know I would not look too good after a 36 hour bath. Hopefully, the lamb comes out well!
Next, I seasoned the lamb with salt and pepper, added some rosemary sprigs and vacuum sealed them.
The lamb goes into a water bath at 57ºC for 36 hours. Why 36? Because the advice is to cook it for between 24 and 48 hours depending on age. Given that the best I could get out of the butcher was “Oh, yeah, young lamb. Very tasty. Nice lamb.” I decided to go with the median time.
Thinking back on happy childhood memories and thinking of what to serve with the lamb, reminded me of a childhood dish of colcannon. One doesn’t see it often and that’s a shame. It consists of kale, chopped, cooked and mixed with mashed potatoes. It is lovely and is packed with great green goodness.
After 36 hours, the lamb was cooked.
The magic of the modernist cooking is revealed when I sliced into the traditional Irish joint of lamb.
I made a thin gravy using the bag juices and a glass of Marsala wine. Thin but packed with lovely lamb flavour.
The traditional and the modernist are brought together wonderfully in this simple dish. The sous vide lamb is amazingly tender yet full of flavour. The colcannon brings me back to the days when there were pigs in the kitchen, if not lambs in the bath.