Archive for January, 2014

Sous Vide Lamb & Allspice Dram

January 10, 2014

Last week, I tried a little lamb rack marinated, cooked sous vide for an hour, and seared.

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This is the final product pictured with roasted local root veggies, sweet corn from summer, and local dried black beans as succotash.  For this sous vide, I marinated the lamb with whole mustard, rosemary, and garlic in an air-sealed bag for a few hours, then dropped the bag in a crock pot on low setting, about 125 degrees water bath & fitted with a steamer insert so the meat didn’t touch the hotter bottom of the pot.  It slow cooked for one hour, then I finished by searing the rack on either side in a cast iron skillet.

Things I would do differently next time:  Because the water is 125 degrees, the product does not exceed 125 degrees while cooking, so some of the fatty bits close to the eye made for tough and stringy eats, I think I will try French-trimming the rack a bit closer to the eye to eliminate some of that.  I used a hot cast iron skillet to sear and get that tasty outer crust, which was good, but I didn’t like the whole mustard with the searing and will probably eliminate mustard altogether and maybe include it in a sauce instead.  The cast iron did not work as well with the curve of the meat, so I will try using my kitchen torch next time to get a more even sear.

Cooking sous vide reduces the water and fat loss when you cook meat, so the final product is very moist and tasty.  It also captures all of the liquid the meat does release, which you can use for sauces or gravy.  I didn’t take advantage of that this time, again largely because of the whole mustard, another reason to leave that out next time and maybe make a red wine reduction with the lamb juices containing just the tasty garlic and herbs.  The temperature controlled water did a lot to control the texture.  It’s a tastier lamb dish then I have had many times in the past.  I’m excited to try in again.

Also in the works, a homemade Allspice Dram. 003 The last few days, we have seen weather in the double digits below zero.  Great time for hot coffee, tea, and cocoa!  Also, a nice time to play with hot toddies.  I cracked some whole Penzey’s allspice in the coffee grinder and am infusing some spiced rum with it.  Today is day #3.  Soon I plan to add cinnamon stick and cardamom.  I will  report back on the progress.  My hope is to have a dram ready when the next big cold snap comes and try my hand at hot buttered rum.  Update with photo: Here is the swirl of spices and rum.  I have added one crushed white cardamom pod, a couple cloves, a cinnamon stick, and two points of a star anise.  Five days until next steps..

Stay  warm and watch your steps out there..

“White. A blank page of canvas. His favorite. So many possibilities.”

January 1, 2014

It is an arbitrary choice, using a New Year as the beginning, the blank page of canvas.  It’s really just a continuation of the last chilly day.  But, here we all are, setting goals and starting again.   I am using this new blank canvas as an exuse to re-purpose this blog.  It has been a place where I go in and edit specials menus and seldom ever do more than that.  In the new year, I plan to use this space to talk about what I’m learning and create a captain’s log of this year’s cooking.

I simmered some frozen aronia berries from late last summer in simple syrup until they plumped, pureed them, and strained out the skins and seeds to make a lovely purple syrup for french toast.  It was tasty, but could have used more acidity to offset the sweetness.  I didn’t even think of the half lemon I have in the cooler, which would have benefited the end result.  Will add it to the leftovers and see.  This afternoon we are cracking one of the last jars of heirloom tomato salsa from the garden for some chips, and tonight I am cooking a small rack of lamb sous vide then quick searing it and eating it with black bean & sweet potato succotash.  It’s my first time cooking lamb sous vide.  I marinated it with whole mustard, holly honey, french thyme, rosemary, and garlic overnight.  Dropping the airtight bag in a crock pot of water on the low setting for one hour, taking it out to let it rest a bit, then searing it.

No photos of today’s activities yet, but here are a few from the end of 2013 holiday meals:

005 007 010 011 023 024 029Welcome 2014!