Lamb and fennel are perhaps not a very usual combination, but it does work. In this dish both the lamb and the fennel are cooked sous-vide. A flavorful piece of lamb is cooked sous-vide with yogurt and fennel seed. The fennel cooked sous-vide is briefly grilled to add some more flavor as well as some pretty grill marks. The fennel is featured in another preparation as well, braised and then pureed with some yogurt to create a velvety sauce/puree. Altogether a nice dish using only a few ingredients.
For 2 servings
300 grams (.66 lb) lamb neck or shoulder
3 medium fennel bulbs
1 tsp ground fennel seed
salt and freshly ground white pepper
120 ml (1/2 cup) greek yogurt, divided
4 Tbsp clarified butter
Combine 60 ml (1/4 cup) greek yogurt with 1 tsp ground fennel seed, 1/2 tsp salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Stir to mix.
Vacuum seal 300 grams of stewing lamb (neck or shoulder) with the yogurt mixture, and cook sous-vide at 57C/135F until tender (24-48 hours, depending on the cut and age of the lamb; for the shoulder of a young lamb 24 hours suffices, while the neck of an older animal may require 48 hours).
Trim the fennel and cut into quarters. Vacuum seal 6 of the quarters, and chop the remaining fennel.
Heat a tablespoon of (clarified) butter in a saucepan. Add the fennel, stir briefly, and add 60 ml (1/4 cup) of water.
Cover and simmer until the fennel is tender, about an hour, stirring now and then. The fennel should caramelize, but not burn. Stirring regularly is important to achieve this result.
While the fennel is braising, cook the vacuum sealed quarters for an hour at 84C/183F. Here I’ve used my immersion circulator to cook the fennel, as the lamb was in the water bath at 57C/135F.
This is what the fennel should look like after an hour or so. If it has not caramelized sufficiently, increase the heat a little until it does. Make sure to keep stirring.
Put the caramelized fennel in a blender with 60 ml (1/4 cup) of yogurt.
Blend until smooth.
Keep the fennel puree warm in a saucepan, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Once the fennel has finished cooking sous-vide…
…take it out of the bag and brush with olive oil. Cook briefly on a very hot griddle to get some nice grill marks.
Take the lamb out of the sous-vide bag. Discard the juices and pat the meat dry with paper towels.
Heat the remaining 3 Tbsp (clarified) butter in a frying pan over high heat. Add the lamb…
…and sear over high heat on all sides. The meat is already cooked, so it is done as soon as it is seared all over.
Serve the lamb with the grilled fennel and the fennel puree on preheated plates.
This seafood cous cous in Sicilian style is flavored with bay leaf, cinnamon, almonds, parsley, onion, and garlic, and served with a tomato-fish stock and fish.