Sous vide Sicilian lemon and mint lamb shanks

by Rosana McPhee
Sous vide Sicilian lemon and mint lamb shanks

Sous vide Sicilian lemon and mint lamb shanks


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!

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.

Add water to the water bath and preheat to 60°C
While waiting for the water to reach the desired temperature, prepare the lamb. Combine that marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Pierce each shank using a small, sharp knife and cover with the Sicilian lemon marinade, ensuring the marinade gets into the pierced holes
Place the shanks into small sous vide pouches, 2 per pouch, and divide any remaining marinade between the pouches. Vacuum seal the pouches
By now the water bath should have reached the desired temperature, if not wait and when it reaches 60°C, set the timer for 48 hours of cooking
Place the pouches into the water bath, close the lid provided and leave to cook. In the last 2 hours of cooking, prepare the cauliflower (see step 6)
After 48 hours, retrieve the lamb pouches from the water bath and set them aside. Increase the temperature of the water bath to 84°C
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
Prepare the cauliflower in the last hours of the lamb shank cooking in the water bath. Drizzle the florets with 1 tbsp olive oil and roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes
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
Place the cauliflower pouches in the water bath and set the timer to 1.5 hours. When ready, remove from the bag and blitz 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
Open the lamb pouches, drain the juices into a pan and place the lamb shanks in an ovenproof dish. Place it under a very red-hot grill for a minute on each side
Meanwhile, add 100ml of white or vermouth to the lamb juices from the pouch. Cook the sauce over a high heat until reduced, for about 5 minutes. By now the lamb shanks should be ready
To serve, lay the cauliflower mash on the plate, add the lamb shank on top and pour over the sauce. Serve immediately
Serve the lamb shank on a bed of cauliflower mash