Due to the pandemic I can’t visit wineries, but thankfully sometimes a winery sends over some samples. I will write more about the wines of Bisci from Matelic from the Marche region in Italy in my next post. Their 2017 Rosso is a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Sangiovese, and reminded me of a Merlot from Chile because it was fresh and fruity and smelled of mint. Kees suggested to pair it with lamb and mint, and that turned out to be a perfect pairing. Neck of lamb, cooked for 24 hours at 57C/135F, is my favorite lamb, but you could prepare this with other cuts of lamb like leg of lamb or lamb cutlets, and cook the lamb in the oven (for the leg of lamb) or frying pan (for lamb cutlets). As I did not use the juices from the sous vide bag for the sauce, I decided to use them to serve green asparagus in fondant style. That turned out great as well.
300 grams (.66 lb) neck of lamb, or other lamb
400 grams (.9 lb) green asparagus
15 grams (1/2 cup) fresh mint leaves
60 ml (1/4 cup) good extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp cornstarch or arrowroot
salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil or clarified butter
Season the lamb with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then vacuum seal. To prevent an unpleasant smell, it is important to scald the lamb for 10 to 20 seconds in hot or boiling water (at least 75C/180F).
It is done as soon as the outside of the meat has lost its raw color. Then cook the lamb sous vide for 24 hours at 57C/135F.
Remove the tough fibrous bottoms of the green asparagus.
Season them with salt, and vacuum seal.
Cook the asparagus sous vide for 10 to 15 minutes at 85C/185F.
Instead of using sous vide, you could cook the asparagus completely in the juices from cooking the lamb sous vide. That will take longer however, and you may have to add some water if it becomes too dry before the asparagus are tender.
Remove the stalks from the mint.
Combine the mint leaves with 60 ml of good extra virgin olive oil…
…and use a blender to create the mint sauce. Do not make the sauce too long in advance to prevent discoloration.
Take the lamb out of the bag and pour the juices into a bowl or jug.
Pat the lamb dry with paper towels.
Heat olive oil or clarified butter in a frying pan and brown the lamb…
…on all sides.
Take the lamb out of the frying pan and allow to rest while you finish the asparagus. Wrap the lamb in aluminium foil to keep it warm.
Pan fry the asparagus in the drippings left from browning the asparagus…
…until they are partly browned.
Mix 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch or arrowroot with the lamb juices, until there are no more lumps. Then add this mixture to the asparagus.
Bring to a boil, and stir until the juices have thickened and coat the asparagus.
Slice the lamb.
Serve the lamb with the mint sauce and asparagus on preheated plates.
As mentioned in the introduction, this is fantastic with a Bisci Rosso. Another fruity Merlot with a hint of mint, such as from Chile, would also be an excellent choice.