A dinner party. I haven’t had one since December, and I haven’t tackled The Work for the last few weeks, so I went back at it. This time I chose something I could prepare beforehand, so I wouldn’t be in the kitchen for most of the meal. Lamb Curry. I can sous vide the lamb, have the sauce on the stove, and just some quick plating will be all that is necessary. Well, almost.
Sous Vide Lamb Shank
This was straight forward: seal the shanks with oil, and drop them in a 61C water bath. For three days.
I recently purchased a PolyScience circulator so I didn’t have to worry about some sort of accidental mishap during the time that they cooked.
Out of the five curries in the book, I chose the Muslim curry, found in the Hyderabad region of India. This curry started with onions sauteed in ghee, with ginger and garlic added until it was nice and fragrant. I love the start of these kinds of soups and sauces, where aromas first start filling the kitchen. Very comforting.
I then had to add a bunch of spices – mace, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, and peppercorns. They needed to be toasted first, so I did that and took them for a quick spin in a grinder. From there they found their way along with nutmeg and sugar into the onions.
The kitchen was smelling pretty awesome by this point. From here I added cream and water, and let it simmer for 30 min. Afterwards, I finished it off with saffron, butter and lime juice and a spin in the Vitamix. To thicken it up I added a small amount of xanthan gum as well. A gorgeous curry presented itself.
And with that the main course was ready to go. And I had hours before dinner started. Nice.
Candied Orange and Carrot Pulao
First things first: what is pulao? It’s the South Asian version of pilaf – a rice dish cooked in a seasoned broth. Our seasoning: sweetness.
I peeled the zest from some oranges and cut into a julienne. I juiced the oranges and added the zest and juice to sugar and water and let it reduce until it was nice and syrupy. While it reduced, I cut the carrots and cooked them in ghee and then combined the two. The candied base for the rice was done.
I had some soaked rice ready to cook. I added the candied mixture along with water and within 10 minutes the pulao was ready to go (an overexposed shot, but you get the idea). The added toasted almonds and pistachios gave it a nutty crunch.
Once I cut up some dates, I had the components ready to assemble and plate the dish. Granted, the dish also includes a honey saffron foam and rose petals. I couldn’t find any rose petals that were edible. Since they’re out of season, the ones that are available probably have been treated to a panoply of chemicals, and suffice to say I didn’t think that was worth it. As for the foam, have you ever bought saffron? For the sauce alone, the saffron cost me over $20. I can do the foam another time.
My guests were fed the appetizer, and it was time for plating the lamb. Since they were fresh out of the water bath, a little prep was needed. They were gray and ugly, and cried out for a little maillard reaction to brown their bits. So, I pulled out a MAPP torch and seared the suckers.
A little sauce, some chopped dates, a sprinkling of rose water, and pulao on the side. Done. Not the prettiest plating, but it was all about the flavor. The curry is pretty intense and rich, so the pulao was a perfect complement to offset it. The meat, of course, was fall-off-the-bone tender from three days of cooking. It went over very well and made for some delicious leftovers too. What can I say? March went out like a lamb, I’m telling you.