I had picked up a very nice double magnum of 1998 red Sancerre from Henri Bourgeois at the winery, and decided to open it for a dinner party with friends who I knew would enjoy it. A double magnum equals 4 regular bottles, so I had to think of several dishes that would be eaten with this wine. I decided that if we would drink one wine with all three savory dishes of the meal (antipasto, primo, secondo), then an appropriate theme would be to base all the dishes on the same main ingredient. Since red sancerre (similar to red burgundy) goes well with lamb, lamb it would be. I went to my butcher and asked him to reserve some nice pieces of the next lamb he was going to buy. And it so it was literally the same main ingredient, because all the dishes we had came from the same animal. It had to be a female, because I wanted to slow-cook the neck and with a male animal there may be a strong odor that will be accentuated by the low and slow cooking.
It was easy to decide the primo (Ravioli with Lamb and Eggplant) and the secondo (neck and rack sous-vide, post to follow), but I had to think a bit before I thought of an antipasto. Since I had not thought of anything with the leg part yet, I decided to try making my own smoked ham. I had never done this before, but did what I thought would work and it did! I didn’t have time to make a ham in the classic way (with long brining or curing), so I just cured it overnight, hot-smoked it for a bit to give it a wonderful smoky aroma, and then finished cooking the ham sous-vide. (If you don’t have sous-vide equipment you could also perform this final step in the oven.) The hot-smoking step only cooks the outside of the meat while giving it a wonderful smoky aroma, the inside will stay raw as it is such a large piece of meat. When the cooking is finished sous-vide, the smoky flavor will penetrate from the outside to the core of the meat.
It was absolutely delicious! The meat was amazingly tender, succulent, and flavorful. This was such a great dish for the effort that I will definitely make this again. I hope you’ll give it a try!
fresh rosemary and thyme
extra virgin olive oil
The lamb will now have taken on a wonderful golden color and smoky aroma. Allow to cool if cooking sous-vide. Otherwise, insert the probe of an instant-read thermometer and finish in the oven at 160C/325F until a core temperature of 55C/131F has been reached, and then allow to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate to firm up.
Vacuum seal the meat once it’s at room temperature with fresh rosemary and thyme. (If you try to vacuum seal when the meat is still hot, too many juices will be drawn out. At a cooler temperature the juices are more sluggish.)
If you like you can add additional olive oil, salt, and freshly ground black pepper, but it was delicious just like that.