lamb

Shepard’s Pie the chef way

Sous vide. Two simple words that either have you drooling at the thought of luscious proteins or have you going sous what?? Sous vide cooking for clarification is: sous vide

suː ˈviːd/
adjective & adverb
 
  1. 1.
    involving or denoting a method of preserving food by partial cooking followed by vacuum-sealing and chilling.
    “a convection oven can be used in sous vide operations”

Thanks wikipedia! Now we have that clarified (sort of) it essentially entails the slow cooking of proteins in a sealed bag in a water bath of a  maintained temperature not usually exceeding 65 degrees Celsius. Sounds complicated right? it is actually so much simpler than it sounds. I have also heard good things about slow cooking in general and this is sort of another notch up from that. The idea is the low temperature slowly coagulates the proteins and create a soft, unctuous mouth feel as opposed to the quick heat of pan frying or grilling which can toughen proteins if overcooked. My foray into the sous vide method came from Aldi (gotta love it) have a slow cooked/sous vide on sale with a vacuum sealer. Lucky me snatched the last one up on a Wednesday afternoon but I had to order my vac sealer online as these were all gone. Being winter casseroles and stews are always a winner but I have to admit I sometimes feel the meat just kind of cooks and goes a bit, well you know…nothingy. The sauces are always amazing but I just felt the meat could be a bit tastier. So here we were. Me, some diced lamb, a vac sealer and a sous vide. I admit, I had a complete brain fart when sealing the bag…I forgot the whole vacuum part vacuums the contents…including moisture…so a little hint when sealing a bag for any purpose – vacuum when it is just a fillet or protein on it’s own fine – vacuum when you have put a little stock and butter in..not so fine. Just seal. Don’t vacuum. Messy lesson learnt! So now to the fun part. I used diced lamb from a butcher, added some beef stock (not homemade but I have found a range of free range stocks called Momo’s Meal’s which are as true to home made as I have ever seeen), butter, rosemary and garlic and set my temp at 60 degrees for about three hours. The result? Deliciously cooked, soft buttery lamb pieces. Amazing. So how did I turn this into a Shepards pie? Keep reading dear followers and I will reveal how to make Shepard’s Pie the chef way! 😉   IMOK_lamb with blackboard   Shepards Pie (serves four with vegetables on the side or two very hungry people)

Shepard’s Pie the chef way
Recipe Type: Dinner
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 3 hours
Total time: 3 hours 30 mins
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 500g diced lamb
  • 6 cloves garlic (reserve four for roast garlic – see notes)
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 750ml beef stock
  • 2 stalks of rosemary
  • 100ml milk
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 4 potatoes
Instructions
  1. In a vacuum bag place 2 cloves of garlic, lamb, 250ml of beef stock, 2 tbsp butter, salt and pepper
  2. Seal and set at 60 degrees on sous vide for about 3 hours
  3. Remove lamb from bag, strain and keep liquid from bag
  4. In saucepan bring remaining stock to a boil, take out about 3 tbsp and mix into flour to form a paste
  5. Stir paste back into hot liquid and whisk to remove any lumps and thicken
  6. Add juices from bag
  7. Reduce heat and allow sauce to simmer and thicken. Adjust seasoning to taste and cook for about ten minutes over low heat
  8. Whilst sauce is cooking, peel and chop potatoes into cubes. Place in a saucepan and just over with water, salt water
  9. Allow potatoes to come to a simmer and cook until a fork can be pushed through easily
  10. Strain and place in a saucepan with milk and remaining butter. Mash with fork or masher until smooth and hot, add roast garlic
  11. Add lamb pieces back to sauce and allow to simmer for a minute or two
  12. Spoon lamb mix into either individual ramekins or large bowl and top with mashed potato
  13. Cover with foil and grill for two minutes then remove foil to allow to golden under grill
  14. Serve with your favourite green vegetables and enjoy!
Notes
To make roast garlic without having to have the oven on, slice the garlic and simmer in water until just soft. Drain water and add vegetable oil to pan. Cook over gentle heat until golden. A low heat is essential to avoid burning the garlic. The pre-boil allows the garlic to cook before gaining the colour
 

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Easy Peasy Lamb Burgers

Creating interesting and nice dinner options can be a bit of a chore when you really aren’t sure what you feel like and the thought of opening a recipe book seems too much like work. Well for me it’s a lot like being at work but that’s another story! I decided burgers were on the cards and to ramp up the fanciness and exclamations of oh la la’s I decided to make lamb mince patties.

To me the secret of a good burger pattie is some spice, some herbs and something to create moisture when you are cooking the meat so you don’t end up with a round pattie of well…mince really. Some may argue with me but I don’t believe that mince in inherently tasty unless perhaps you make your own but not many people have a mincer these days nor the inclination to fire it up. So how to make mince tasty I hear you ask? And why is moisture important?

Salt and pepper are a good start as a seasoning but think of complimentary flavours. For lamb, morroccan style spices work well, or fresh herbs and garlic are always easy. I went with a morroccan spice blend, thrown together from the spice rack in my cupboard. Why moisture I hear you ask? Some minces have a lot of fat, some not so much. As fat melts is creates flavour and moisture which in turn help create plump and juicy burger patties as opposed to dry and crumbly ones. If you lean towards the well, lean side of mince you need something else besides fat to create moisture and flavour. I used grilled eggplant due to their high water content (they are like a sponge, trust me) and some breadcrumbs soaked in milk. This is a little chef secret. If you are gluten free by all means use gluten free breads crumbs, they are more a medium to absorb the liquid and then release it as the temperature rises and it turns to steam. Lactose free, just use water, it will work just as well.

Im all about fuss free cooking so I grilled my eggplant in rounds with the onion and then added it to the blender with some extra spices, the milk soaked breadcrumbs, gave it a whizz and added it to the mince. I formed the patties and let them sit for about and hour to firm up before grilling. I used grilled capsicum and zucchini, bbq sauce, some of the grilled onion and spinach leaves to top the bun. I also toasted the bun on the BBQ for some extra zing. Feel free to use what you wish, hommus or yoghurt dressing would be lovely, rocket or plain lettuce, sliced tomato and cucumber, the freedom to choose is yours! These burgers can also be made in advance and frozen, or made, eaten and the leftovers frozen for another scrumptious meal. You can make smaller meatball style for a canape or to fill a wrap as well.

Ingredients:

– 1 Packet of lamb mince (usually 500g)

– 1 eggplant

– Two carrots

– 1 Capsicum

– 1 red onion

– 1/4 cup chopped parsley

– Moroccan or otherwise seasoning of your choice

– 2-3 slices of bread or one bread roll

Method:

1. Soak bread in just enough milk to cover

2. Slice eggplant and onion and season with spices and brush with olive oil. Split open capsicum lengthways, remove seeds and brush with olive oil.

3. Grill eggplant, capsicum and onion until softened. Set capsicum aside for burger topping, place eggplant and onion in a food processor.

4. Chop carrot into small enough pieces for processor, add to eggplant and onion mix with bread and seasoning to taste, blend until smooth paste

5. Fold through mince until well incorporated

6. Form into patties or meatballs and set in fridge for at least one hour NB: The larger the patties the longer the cooking time so ensure the patties are of reasonable thickness so as to not burn before cooking through – approx 2cm would suffice

7. Grill or pan fry the patties until golden and cooked through

8. Assemble burgers or wraps with toppings of your choice

9. Assume burger grip and tuck in