Lamb Shank and Asparagus Sous-Vide

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This is what I prepared for our secondo piatto for Easter dinner: lamb shank ‘Italian style’ sous-vide with white asparagus sous-vide. Both lamb and asparagus are perfect to celebrate Spring. I’ve blogged about lamb shank sous-vide before, and that was a very simple preparation with just a bit of thyme. Lamb shanks are amazing when cooked sous-vide for 48 hours at 62ºC/144ºF. They are pink, juicy, and very tender. (Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the inside of the meat, so you’ll have to take my word for it.) ChgoJohn’s recent post on braised lamb shanks on his great blog From The Bartolini Kitchens reminded me that I should prepare lamb shanks again, and the recipe I used here is almost the same as John’s mother’s recipe. Well, except for the sous-vide bit of course. The recipe is an Italian classic for braising: the meat is cooked with the holy trinity of onion, carrot, and celery, and wine.

White asparagus are a specialty of the Netherlands and they are best when very fresh. It is best to store them in the refrigerator, wrapped in a damp cloth. Cooked sous-vide they are tender and juicy but still have a nice bite to them as well. Their flavor is nicely sweet. White asparagus are actually the same as green asparagus, the only difference is that they grow underground. White asparagus need to be peeled all the way (except for the very tip) and only a very small part of the bottom (about 1 cm or 1/2 inch) needs to be cut off. They are usually steamed or boiled, but cooked sous-vide it is easier to keep them al dente and they retain more of their sweet flavor.

Ingredients

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For the lamb, 4 servings

4 lamb shanks

1 carrot

2 celery stalks

1 onion

3 cloves garlic

4 sprigs rosemary

2 bay leaves

1 Tbsp tomato paste

salt and freshly ground black pepper

250 ml (1 cup) full-bodied red wine

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp lamb demi-glace (lamb stock reduced to 1/10)

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For the asparagus

white asparagus

butter

salt

Preparation

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Heat the oil in a frying pan. Once the oil is hot but not too hot, add the garlic cloves and tilt the pan so the garlic fries more quickly on all sides. Continue until the garlic turns golden (not brown!) and then discard the garlic.

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Season the lamb shanks with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Brown them on all sides over medium-high heat in the garlic-infused olive oil.

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Put the lamb shanks on a plate and allow to cool.

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Mince the onion, carrot, and celery (I use the food processor for this) and add to the pan that you used to brown the lamb.

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Sauté the vegetables over medium heat until they are golden, about 10 minutes.

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Add the tomato paste…

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..and stir for a minute.

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Deglaze the pan with the red wine.

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Add the bay leaves, rosemary, and lamb demi-glace.

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Stir for a minute or until the lamb demi-glace has dissolved and the alcohol has evaporated. Turn off the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

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If using a chamber vacuum sealer, wait until the lamb and the sauce have cooled off to at least room temperature, but preferably in the refrigerator. Vacuum seal the lamb shanks with the sauce. Use a ziploc bag and the water displacement method if you don’t have a chamber vacuum sealer. Heat up the sous-vide cooker to 62ºC/144ºF. Cook the lamb shanks for approximately 48 hours at 62ºC/144ºF.

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To prepare the asparagus, start by peeling them with a potato peeler. Peel them all the way, except for the tip.

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Cut off the bottom 1 cm (1/2 inch) and discard.

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Season the asparagus with salt on all sides.

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Vacuum seal with some butter.

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Cook the asparagus sous-vide for 15 minutes at 85ºC/185ºF.

If you have ‘only’ one sous-vide cooker, it will be already occupied with the lamb shanks. There are two solutions for this:

  1. Use ‘stove pot’ sous-vide to cook the asparagus;
  2. Remove the lamb shanks from the sous-vide cooker when they are done and cook the asparagus in the sous-vide cooker while you finish the sauce and keep the lamb warm in the oven; add boiling water to the sous-vide cooker to quickly increase the water temperature.

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After approximately 48 hours, take the lamb shanks out of the sous-vide cooker.

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Reserve the sauce in a saucepan, and keep the lamb shanks warm in the oven (at around 100ºC/225ºF).

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Discard the bay leaves and rosemary, and puree the sauce with an immersion blender.

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Bring the sauce to a boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If needed, you can also reduce the sauce a bit or thicken it.

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Serve the lamb shanks with the asparagus on warm plates.

Wine pairing

This is great with a dry pinot noir, such as a Spätburgunder from Germany or a Red Burgundy or Sancerre.

Flashback


Two years ago asparagus were also on the menu, as I prepared asparagus risotto with goat cheese. This was also the first and only time I experimented with cooking risotto sous-vide, which I didn’t think was worth repeating.

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19 thoughts on “Lamb Shank and Asparagus Sous-Vide

  1. We Americans don’t often it ‘shanks’ of any kind and we’re missing out on some really Good Eats!! I love how flavorful & tender the meat is on a well-cooked shank. Veal Shank used to be one of my husband’s favorites when we lived in Malta!

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  2. Beautiful as always! I have to try this. Haven’t been doing a lot of sous vide cooking because I didn’t ship my chamber vacuum sealer to canada and it would cost a fortune to get another one.

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      1. yeah, i was just looking at one… im traveling to LA next month, or at least thats the plan. I might pack mine up and bring it with on the plane. I also need a new pressure cooker, mine broke in the suitcase during the flight to vancouver. And I’m also looking at buying another immersion circulator

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  3. Your shanks look very good, Stefan. Lamb is such a nice dish this time of year and your preparation does it justice. Those shanks look so moist and flavorful. Thanks, too, for the kindly mention.

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    1. Hi Mallory, good question. The lamb should get to room temperature before vacuum sealing it using a chamber vacuum sealer. This is important, because otherwise the juices in the lamb will start to boil when the temperature drops. It is not needed when using the water displacement method to ‘vacuum seal’ the lamb. I’ve just checked my post and it wasn’t completely clear that this is important only when using a chamber vacuum sealer.

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      1. Thanks for the clarification! I always use the displacement method and haven’t had any issues, though I do get paranoid that the ziploc seal will open. Still, after letting this lamb cook for 48 hours, it still held 🙂 The lamb was delicious, by the way. Perfectly pink and tender throughout and the sauce was fantastic.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Stefan,

    We bought some fresh asparagus in Limburg and I want to cook it sous vide.
    I did.this before, they were very juice and crunchy, but cannot remember the time.
    In this recipe you cook them 15 min.85 degrees, in your Turbot recipe 45 min. at 84 degrees. Quite a difference…
    What to do?
    Best regards,
    Frans

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This depends on the thickness of the asparagus and mostly on your preference. 15 minutes will still have quite some bite, 45 is tender. 30 may be a good compromise. Unlike cooking them in boiling water, a few minutes will only make a small difference.

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  5. 30 min. was a little too short in our view.
    Not roo raw, but a little too crunchy, at least the thick ones (AAA)
    I had two pouches, the second one I had a few minutes on a hot grilll.
    That was a little bit better. I think the sugar caramelized.
    With the #WhitewineShallotGarlicSaffronCreamButter sauce it paired well.
    Next time I’ll take some 15 min. more.

    P.S. glad you liked Librije’s Zusje as we did.. carbinero was really an amazing dish!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the Carbinero was our favorite.
      With the AAA asparagus, I’d go 45 minuten or even an hour.
      Most important is the difference in flavor: sous-vide asparagus so much more flavor than boiled.

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