Sous Vide Sicilian lemon and mint lamb shanks

By Rosana McPhee •

Since getting a sous vide machine, Rosana's been trying and testing recipes like a woman possessed.  Here she shares a beautiful recipe and everything she's learnt about her sous vide so far.

I finally got hold of the latest gastronomic craze. I have been trying and testing recipes using sous vide like mad.  I was given the Sous Vide Supreme to try and test it in my tiny domestic kitchen. It’s been such good fun and has really opened up other cooking possibilities. Vacuum packing cooking aka SousVide is a modern convenient way to cook by extracting air and, if necessary, store food in their vacuum-sealed pouches.  It preserves textures, flavours, nutritional value and is an extremely effective way to preserve the freshness of many foods.

Excluding oxygen not only preserves the appearance and flavour it also helps to keep the meats and seafood smelling fresh for longer by slowing oxidation. Cooking, storing, and reheating meats and seafood in vacuum packaging will keep them fresh and very delicious.  The sous vide technique elevates and magnifies the taste and textures of meat, vegetables and even eggs!

With some traditional cooking techniques, if you get distracted or forget timings (I am guilty!)  the food will either be under, or worse, overcooked. The ability to cook food for long periods of time at precisely controlled temperatures can provide various appealing textures that are impractical, or even impossible, to achieve using conventional cooking techniques.  

Cooking sous vide allows for consistence, easy results over and over again. Convenience, food can be prepared in advance or partially prepared beforehand. Saving, cooking  at lower temperatures for a long period allows even the cheapest and tough cuts to cook into melting in the mouth texture.  When suddenly you have a huge amount of vegetables, they too can be vacuum sealed and cooked at your convenience, within reason or freeze them and cook when required. The possibilities and techniques are endless. I learned so much from this experience.

The most important thing to remember is always use fresh, within date produce. In my opinion at the moment, the only downside is the cost of the sous vide,  hopefully it will be more accessible in the nearest future so we can all cook sous vide.

Here is a recipe for a meal cooked entirely using the sous vide, which is wheat and gluten free (it's also dairy-free too - if using dairy-free cream). Enjoy!

Sicilian lemon and mint lamb shanks with wild garlic roasted cauliflower mash

dairy-free, gluten-free and wheat-free

Serves 4 people

4  lamb shanks  (approx 1.2 k)
Sicilian lemon marinade for the lamb:
juice of 1 lemon, I used Sicilian lemons, but you can use everyday lemon, if you can’t find Sicilian ones
zest of 1 lemon, without the pith
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped mint, be generous! I have used fresh herbs and dry herbs in sous vide and both work fine.
1 garlic clove, finely minced
salt and pepper to taste
Cauliflower mash

750 gr of cauliflower florets, clean and small sizes
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 wild garlic leaf, add more if required at the end of cooking
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
salt & pepper to taste
200ml of double (heavy) cream or diary-free cream of choice

1) Start by preparing the sous vide (water bath): add water to it and set the temperature, in this case 60C

2) While waiting for the water to reach the desired temperature, prepare the lamb: pierce each one, smother them with the Sicilian lemon marinade, place them into the small sous vide pouches, 2 per pouch, vacuum seal the pouches. Add more of the marinade in each pouch.

3) By now the sous vide should have reached the desired temperature, if not wait and when it reaches 60C, set the timer: 48 hours of cooking. I also set the timer on my phone, just in case.

4) Place the pouches into the sous vide, close with the lid provided and let the machine do its magic and go about your business as usual. In the last two hours of cooking, prepare the cauliflower (see below step 6).

5) After 48 hours, retrieve the lamb pouches from the sous vide and set them aside.  Set the sous vide machine to a higher temperature to 84C.

6) Prepare the cauliflower in the last hours of lamb shank cooking in the sous vide: roast in the oven for  20-30 minutes fan oven 180C, drizzled with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once ready and totally cooled place the roasted cauliflower in the sous vide pouch, in one layer,  add the salt, pepper to taste, wild garlic and the chopped chilli, seal the pouch.

7) Place the cauliflower pouches in the sous vide and set the timer to 1.5 hours. When ready, take them out and blitz them in a food processor. Alternatively, if they are very soft you can massage the pouch, add the cream and  mix all very well inside the pouch.

8) Open the lamb pouches, drain the juices in to a pan and place the lamb shanks in a ovenproof dish and place it under a very red hot grill for a minute each side.  In the meantime, add to the lamb juices a ½ cup (100ml) of white or vermouth, if required.  Cook the sauce in a high heat until it reduces about 5 minutes.  By now the lamb shanks should be ready.

9) Plate up: lay the cauliflower mash on the plate, add the lamb shank and pour over the sauce. Serve immediately.

This dish can be done in advance, a day or two before. Straight after cooking in the sous vide machine, don’t open the pouches, shock freeze (see below)  and keep them in the fridge for a couple of days or freezer for a month or so. Take out of the fridge or freezer allow to defrost to room temperature and follow step 8 for the meat. Heat the cauliflower in a pan and add the cream just before serving.

Shock freeze method at the domestic kitchen: In a big bowl add lots of ice and very cold water, immerse the unopened pouches in the freezing water until completely cold.  Place in the fridge or freeze it.

Buen provecho!

The meat in the post was kindly provided by Donald Russell 

For more delicious sous vide recipes visit Great British Chefs collection.


Rosana McPhee

Rosana McPhee was born in Brazil and she has been living in London for the last 20 years.  She created a food blog at www.hotandchilli.com, where she writes about her adventures in food, including some ideas and recipes from her native Brazil. You can follow Rosana on Twitter: @Rosana_McPhee

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