Lamb shoulder, sous vide style. Our first lamb dinner.

I reminded SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) that we had new lamb in the freezer and that we needed to get it out and cook a meal. This Saturday, she popped over to the store and said, “Ok, I’m here for the lamb and for the meat for the rest of the week.”

You know how you are at a restaurant, and you see the wait staff and the kitchen staff eating there? You feel like this must be a good place to eat because they work they, know everything that goes on, and they like the food. Yeah, that’s our place.

Wife and kids and a counter full of meat
SWMBO with her purchases for the week

Here is SWMBO with this week’s haul of meat. The total was $403.00! I told you she was my #1 customer. 

So Saturday SWMBO gets back to the house with this meat and then tells me, “You know we are having lamb on Sunday, right?”

“Huh?” Says I. No I didn’t know that. And by the look she’s giving me, I’m apparently cooking the lamb.

So I break out the sous vide cooker and take the solidly frozen lamb shoulders and conjure up some kind of recipe in record time (like 45 seconds).

Frozen hunks of lamb shoulder
Frozen hunks of lamb shoulder

I didn’t have a recipe for lamb shoulder, or especially frozen lamb shoulder. I also didn’t want a bunch of marinades, glazes, etc. I wanted to taste the lamb because I want to be able to tell customers exactly how it tastes. With that in mind, I cut open the packages, placed a couple of shoulders in a new package and sprinkled it liberally with plain old garlic salt from the pantry. I then placed a small sprig of rosemary in each bag, cut from our rosemary bush in the front yard. No muss, no fuss.

Frozen lamb shoulders just starting in the meat aquarium
Frozen lamb shoulders just starting in the meat aquarium

I then sealed the bags and put the still frozen lamb shoulders in the sous vide cooker. The recipes I glanced at in the 30 seconds I looked ranged in temperature from 131 to 158. I guessed and picked 143. Seems legit.

This was Saturday afternoon. The recipes I looked at also called for cooking from 2 hours to 48 hours. We’d cooked 24 hours for other cuts before and it worked well. Plus, I only had about 15 minutes to do this entire operation because I had customers coming for tours so I was limited on my choices.

On Sunday, SWMBO informed me that we’d eat at 6pm, our normal meal time. Then about 5:30 she decided that the boys would be home at 8:15 so we’d eat then instead of 6pm. Just a 2:15 swing in when things would be done with meat already in the cooker and the oven already preheating!

No worries, I just let the lamb swim in the meat aquarium a bit longer, then pulled them and put them on a sheet pan to dry. I took all the juices that came from the bags they cooked in and put them in a sauce pan to reduce. The juice was really salty so I added about 1 cup of red wine, a bit of water, and about 3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar. I was debating adding a touch of sugar to help with the saltiness but extra vinegar did the trick. I reduced this mix by about 1/3 and took it off the heat.

Meanwhile I’d been taking my now dry lamb shoulders and broiling them in the oven on high broil till they browned nicely. With the lamb shoulders hot from the broiler, and my reduction cooled and thickened, we pulled SWMBOs veggies from the pot and served dinner.

Lamb shoulder of the Gods!
I didn’t’ want wine, but since I had to open a bottle to cook with…

I’ve traveled all over this country and eaten in some seriously expensive restaurants. I’ve also eaten in pretty much every high end restaurant in Raleigh. Folks, I’ve not had a better meal. We dropped frozen hockey pucks in a bag with cheap garlic salt and leaves from the lawn and cooked it six hours longer than we originally planned! We used a meat aquarium and 5 minutes of a broiler. This was as simple of a meal as you could make and it was AWESOME!

Lamb shoulder, A closer look at doneness
A closer look at doneness

The meat was fall off the bone tender but still had good texture. The sauce was sweet and salty and everyone asked for more of it. We had my kids, plus the cousins over. Many people at the table had never had lamb. They all agreed it was stellar. I had two pots to put away, and two sheet pans to clean.

You probably don’t have a sous vide cooker. That’s fine. Bake the lamb, or crock pot it, or boil it. I don’t know, do something with it. But try it. Americans, including us, almost never eat lamb. We have no idea what we are missing. We have this lamb in the freezer now, with more coming. If you haven’t tried lamb, or haven’t since the 70s with some weird green sauce, then you owe it to yourself to give it a try.

My thanks to The Princess, who is the one who pushed me to get lamb in the store. And to The Stanbury who cooked lamb for her on our date night giving her the idea.

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Dan is a dad, a husband, a business owner, a pilot, a sailor, a scuba diver, a machinist, a gunsmith, a welder, a woodworker, a day laborer, a teacher, a mentor and a writer. The short form of all the previous is he's a farmer.

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