Miserable wet and windy day on Sunday so it needed some winter food. I bought some Lamb Shanks so decided to braise them in the pressure cooker. YUM an hour and a bit and they were fall apart perfect. I would normally give it a good slug of red wine but had used it all so I used some white wine bolstered by some good balsamic vinegar to enrich the sauce, it worked a treat and gave it another dimension. Matched with some good mash and a seared tomato and bukchoy number and it was wintery wonderment.
I took Paula to Pinnacles 5 star resort Airlie Beach for her birthday and despite the multitude of restaurants in this solely tourism driven town she chose to have me cook her a Lamb Rack in our apartment. It had to be good so I sous vide the racks and then finished them in pan and oven. I had to sous vide them by eye as I had no way to regulate the temperature of the water bath nor a thermometer to test it. They came out of the oven as perfect medium rare rare. Thrown down with a nice Asian style salad and the complimentary bottle of champagne the resort supplied and it was a perfect birthday dinner for two
Sometimes you just stumble across something that is just the absolute best way to achieve a particular result and when it comes to cooking meat for me, that has been Sous Vide, French for under vacuum. The vacuum packed meat is cooked at a low temperature for a longer period in a waterbath. The water temp is maintained at a certain temp for desired cookedness ( I made that up). This lamb rack was med rare after 45 minutes at 58deg c then a quick hot sear in a pan to caramalise the outside. I served it on a Moroccan spiced sweet potato mash with mashed potato, garlic buttered broccoli and cashew nut and a pepper and mint gravy.
Doe’s having a small salad with this dish make up for the fact that there are three pieces of fried Haloumi on it? Who cares! It was excellent. Its Lamb Steaks topped with pan-fried haloumi and chilli mint sauce w/ salad and sweet potato chips. Its an extra big serve because Paula was feeling a bit seedy after a big rum and didn’t want all of hers, the sacrifices we make! The lamb was very good, fresh and only cooked for bout 2 mins each side then rested. The result was perfectly blushing steaks that were as tender as it gets. Gotta say I’m loving the lamb price war.
Lamb is coming down in price…about bloody time! Lamb in Australia has been at ridiculous prices until very recently. Now it has been dragged into the ‘Big Two’ grocery war. Coles and Woolworths the two food extortionists in Australia are having price wars on everyday items and compete to see who can put the most primary producers out of business. Call me cynical but their so called consumer concern is more like price collusion than competition but occasionally we the consumer do benefit from there games. Lamb has just made it into the battle with both stores reducing the price to near reasonable prices. Hailing originally from the land of the long white cloud I have always liked lamb. Actually mutton is nicer but it seems to be next to impossible to get anymore. I love lamb racks and don’t mind a shank or roast either. The other day I got a half leg roast for $10 and it was just enough for the two of us for dinner and a little bit for the hounds. A rack is my favourite cut and I will often de-bone a rack to give a nice lamb fillet. For the ultimate result I will sous vide the lamb to just rare and then pan sear to caramalise the outside and leave a perfect medium rare fillet…YUM! Under done lamb has a bit of a funky taste and smell so med-rare is best I feel. For the best lamb see a good butcher and you will be able to get the cuts that the big stores ignore, try and get a chump chop at the supermarket here! Living in the tropics there are not too many of the woolie jumpers farmed around here but if you live near a farm you can’t beat farm fresh lamb and you may well get the older and in my opinion tastier Mutton. If you haven’t tried mutton ham you are missing out, get your butcher to cure a mutton leg for you its great.
First day out stomach settler.
Even salty seadogs can get a queasy stomach after a while off the water and while I have never suffered seasickness I think the best remedy for nausea often is to feed it. One of the few times I will bother with breakfast is when we are out at sea and I generally have a 1st day out breakfast something like the one pictured. Things like bacon, beans, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes the possibilities are endless, oh and toast always toast, allowed to cool and go crunchy of course. Because we are often out at sea for weeks and months on end bacon and eggs can be become luxuries, a welcome change from fish, oysters, crabs etc. Pies are another thing we get cravings for, we have found Fray Bentos Pies in a can which are great as we can keep them for months on board. The only problem is Fray Bentos make heaps of flavours but the only one available in Australia is steak and kidney, I despise kidney but there is so little in them they are edible enough when you have been at sea for a long time. When we go out for a weekend or short trip we tend to eat smaller snackier meals or deli stuff like hams and cheese’s and roles. The last weekend out we had a rack of lamb in the fridge and Paula had seen Devils on Horseback on tv so we had short cut bacon and big fresh dates ( better than traditional prunes) so she made the DOHB and I cut the rack into cutlets and we had it with supermarket salads. Nice and quick, took about twenty minutes and next to no dishes. thats good sailing food.
Meat and Three Veg, how many times have we all cooked that. One good thing is there are a multitude of options to allow us all to put some variety into it. I find we are eating smaller portions of red meat lately so mixing it up with veg’s is a great way to keep it interesting. This dish is pretty much just Steak and Chips with veg, but if you are writing a menu it becomes ‘Choice centre cut Grass Fed Rump Steak served on Garlic Cauliflower Puree, Hand cut Duck Fat Fried Chips w/ Moroccan Sweet Potato Mash & Glazed Baby Spinach and a Red Wine De-Glaze’. While that might be a bit long-winded It pays to be descriptive on menus, personally I like to be a bit more succinct but often the sound of a dish is what sells us. The next step is, we eat with our eyes first. Have fun making your meals look good, ultimately it is taste that seals the deal but a great looking plate goes a long way to making us enjoy the experience.