The glory of lamb is that it can take an awful lot of messing around with and still taste amazing – it's probably one of the most versatile meats around. You can pair it with anything from apricots to anchovy to chilli and smoky cumin, or hickory and hoi sin and it’s still a delight to eat.
Low temperature and hyper-slow cooking suit the tougher cuts of meat like lamb shoulder but the sous vide gadgets coming out make the job safer and easier, even for the leaner less forgiving cuts. I had been a little adverse to this method of cooking, something about not being able to smell, prod or turn my dinner, but then I acquired a SousVide Supreme. It's a serious bit of kitchen kit that promises the ultimate home cooked meal at the push of a button.
I can see the appeal. It’s a superbly healthy way to cook, and for pregnant women in the throes of morning sickness, this is completely odour free cooking. Ditto for those of us living in old terraces with after thought kitchens or the confines of an apartment – not having your entire living quarters smell like grilled salmon for a week is amazing.
But best of all, you can forget all about it, stick your food in, disappear for a few hours, and come back to a bath of succulent whatever. Obviously, a sous vide machine is an investment of both money and kitchen real estate so I’ve tweaked the recipe here for cooking normally and for those who have entered the world of uber kitchen gadgetry. I dare say it's worth it.
Spiced quince lamb with eggplant, kale & bulghur salad
Serves 4 - 6
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tbsp quince paste
1 tbsp olive oil
2 (200g each) lamb backstrap
150g fine bulghur (cracked wheat)
2 baby eggplants, chargrilled, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
1/4 cup pistachio kernels, roughly chopped
1/4 cup raisins, roughly chopped
1 cup kale, finely sliced
1/2 cup coriander leaves, chopped
1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
Zest of 1/2 lemon
4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Salt and pepper to season
Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl and stir until the quince paste has broken down and the marinade is a smooth consistency. Add lamb, turning to coat, cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. (If using sous vide, add the lamb and marinade to a food safe vac bag and seal).
Pre-heat chargrill on high heat. For the sous viders, preheat the Sous Vide water bath to 55C, add the lamb pouch and cook for 90 minutes. Cook lamb for 5 minutes on each side for medium rare, or until cooked to your liking. Cover and rest for 5 minutes.
While the lamb is cooking, prepare the salad by soaking cracked wheat in hot water until tender (8-10 minutes), drain well and fluff with a fork. Add the wheat to a large bowl with the remaining salad ingredients and toss to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Add the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine. Thickly slice the lamb. Add the salad to a large serving bowl, top with the lamb and drizzle over the yoghurt dressing. Serve warm.