Sunday, March 30, 2008

Mission: Lamb Shank Confit in Duck Fat

We are still working through the "low hanging fruit" category of the book - things that are easy to source, with tastes we are familiar with, and techniques we've used before, sort of. So this week, we made Lamb Shank Confit in Duck Fat. It's lamb cooked sous vide in duck fat. How delicious does that sound? Super delicious.

Sure, neither of us had done a confit before. Sure, we don't have a "proper" immersion circulator. But hey, we can get around that stuff easy, right? Right? So here's our mis en place to get things started -- right before the lamb shanks went into the brine.

Lamb confit mis en place

We got started by vacuum sealing the protein, fat, and aromatics. Note that while this is not a recommended use for Foodsaver bags, we didn't have any problems. So we'll do it again. And again! And again! Bwwaaah ha ha!

All sucked out and ready to go

Here, we have the garlic creme sauce simmering away in our saucier. This is sauce one of three for this dish.
Garlic and cream

Now we sliced up some tomatoes and let them marinate for topping two of three.

Tomatoes on the marinate

Several hours after getting dunked we retrieved the lamb-bags and separated the juices from the meat. We put the meat in the fridge and by now things are starting to smell gooooood.
Juice and Lamb

Then we strained the juices... which we then stuck in the freezer for a half hour or so to separate the duck/lamb fat from the jelly.

Then we spooned the fat from the top of the juice and are left with this: "lamb jelly." This will be a part of sauce number three of three.
Lamb jelly

Speaking of sauce... remember that garlic sauce? We've blended it now and are putting it through that heroic kitchen tool, the chinois. It smelled so delicious, it was all we could do to keep ourselves from sipping on it. Mmmm... garlic cream.

Chinois Chinois

Now we took the lamb jelly, added to some tomato sauce and homemade lamb stock (thanks for the lamb neck, Avedano's! you guys rock!), and set to reduce for a little bit. Look at that color!
Lamb jelly and tomato sauce, reducing

Moments later, mushrooms get thinly sliced through the mandolin (good results, but somewhat nerve racking for Jacob and his fingers).

Mandoline action!

Shanks (split by the butcher for better access to the marrow) and sauce three of three in Big Copper and into the oven for a slight warmup.
Lamb shank in sauce three of three

Here the action really started to rev up. We had put some lentils on heat, and when they were done, we drained them and put them atop the sliced onions and the mushrooms to heat things through. Then it got a vinaigrette tossed in.

Lentils drained and ready

Then we started the hot plating action. First, lentil salad!

Lentils, onions, mushrooms - waiting for lamb

Then lamby, sauce one (tomato), two (garlic cream), and finally sauce three (marinated tomato), for the final product:
Lamb Confit

Well, wow. MMMMMMMMM.

This turned out awesome. The just-softened mushrooms and onions played well with the lentils. The fresh diced tomato sauce worked well with the warmth of the rest of the dish. The vinaigrette cut the richness of the garlic cream, and most of all, the lamb was fall-off-the-bone tender. Our guests were thrilled and so were we! We thought it would be a heavier dish but we were pleasantly surprised - it wasn't so heavy after all - and the sauces were all really quite wonderful. Well worth the effort! Jacob was especially happy with the garlic sauce, though he didn't want to pick a favorite.

Note to selves:
Read carefully! We very nearly missed that we were to chill the lamb juice (which allowed us to separate the fat from the jelly). This would have resulted in some very greasy sauce! Luckily we noticed the seemingly throwaway phrase ("set aside juice to cool") just in time. Schwoo!

Time, mis to eat:
About 24 hours, as there was some brining that we had to do the night before. Not counting that, about eight hours - six of those being the lamb sous viding.

Cost of the components of the dish: $56 (excluding things we already had in the pantry). The majority of that was spent on the lamb shanks - we went with fancy free range goodness. Oh, and goodness it was!

What's next:
La Coupe PDC (pork loin with sauerkraut!)

Blast from the past: Check out our new feature, "Out of Scope," where we took the dive into beef marrow.

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