Lamb and asparagus are very seasonal, but what is really the star of this dish is the goat cheese sauce. I used a French artisan raw milk goat cheese, a Selles sur Cher appellation d’origine protegée. I used neck of lamb and cooked both lamb and asparagus sous-vide, but this would also work with another cut of lamb (leg of lamb or rack of lamb) and by cooking the lamb and asparagus in a more conventional way. The sauce looks a bit like a blue cheese sauce because of the ashes on the rind of this cheese, and it is quite pungent. Neck of lamb is one of my favorite cuts because it has so much flavor. If cooked sous-vide for 24 hours at 57C/135F, it will be as tender as leg or rack of lamb, but with more flavor.
For 4 servings
600 grams (1.3 lb) neck of lamb
500 grams (1.1 lb) green asparagus
150 grams (.33 lb) Selles sur Cher, or other soft goat cheese, preferably raw milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
250 ml (1 cup) milk
25 grams (2 Tbsp) butter
25 grams (2 1/2 Tbsp) flour
butter for the asparagus
butter and olive oil for searing the lamb
Season the lamb with salt and freshly gound black pepper, and vacuum seal it with some fresh thyme.
When cooking sous-vide for 24 hours below 60C/140F, it is important to scald the meat in hot water after vacuum sealing to avoid a bad smell. In my experience, lamb is especially prone to this issue.
The water should be at least 77C/170F and you should dip the meat into the hot water until the raw color has disappeared, 10 or 20 seconds. I usually just use boiling water, as that way I don’t need a thermometer to check the temperature. Make sure that the bags you use can withstand such a temperature.
Cook sous-vide for 24 hours at 57C/135F.
I also cooked the green asparagus sous-vide for 15 minutes at 85C/185F: seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper and vacuum sealed with some butter.
If you don’t have two sous-vide appliances (I own three…), you could cook the asparagus sous-vide after the lamb. Just add some boiling water from a kettle to heat up the water quickly from 57C/135F to 85C/185F (and make sure to remove the lamb before you do that). If you wrap the lamb in a towel or something, you can keep it warm enough until it is time to take it out of the bag to sear.
To make the goat cheese sauce, start by making a simple white sauce according to these instructions.
Chop or crumble the cheese and add it to the sauce.
Stir over low heat until the cheese has melted. Do not allow the sauce to boil.
Season to taste with with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
When it is time to serve, take the lamb out of the bag, dry it well with paper towels, and sear quickly over very high heat on all sides in some butter and olive oil.
Slice the lamb, and serve it with the sauce and asparagus on preheated plates.
This is nice with a Pinot Noir from a cool climate, such as Burgundy or Sancerre.
A Pinot Noir from a hotter climate (or most other reds) would overpower the lamb and would not work as well with the asparagus and goat cheese.
This goat stew with bell peppers and pearl onions from Abruzzo in Italy could also be prepared with lamb.