Wednesday, July 23, 2008

drool worthy


I have a dark and shameful past. A period of my former life in which I could barely make rice in the electric rice cooker, consistently turned out rubbery tough scrambled eggs for Sunday's breakfast, and served guests frozen meals from a box and called it my own homecooking. This latter practice, however shameful and unspeakable it may be now, actually helped me to throw some of my most successful dinner parties. The first of Mr.S's birthdays that we celebrated together, I pulled one over on him with one of my slaved-over-a-hot-stove "home cooked" meal.

The menu consisted of braised lamb shanks in a rosemary-mint sauce, oat blinis with creme fraiche, and roasted root vegetables. I don't know if Mr.S fell for me that night or for the lamb, but he decided to stick around.
Luckily for him, I learned how to cook. Eventually I revealed my secret to him years later, that my fork-tender lamb shanks were actually store bought, precooked and frozen, from Costco.

These lamb shanks are some of the most delicious and succulent pieces I've ever had because they truly taste like they've been cooking away for hours. The meat is rich and tender, without the least bit of game, falling off the bone as you gently pry your fork into it.
The sauce is like a thickened au jus, sweet and intense, flavored with rosemary. I can never really fully taste the mint, but it's there, a soft nuance to balance out the richness of the sauce. After you pull away the meat, the invitingly attractive bone implores you to gnaw away at it; it's difficult not to give in.


These lamb shanks are made by a company called Cuisine Solutions, which specializes in a method of cooking called sous-vide.
In recent years, it's become a term more popularized thanks to shows like Top Chef and actual top chefs like Thomas Keller, Wylie Dufresne, and Ferran Adrià. Essentially, it's a purely scientific approach to cooking. Based on the molecular makeup of the food to be cooked, a combination of heat, timing, and cooling is used. All this, and a hermetically-sealed plastic pouch. The food is sealed in such a package, and cooks for hours, sometimes even a day, over the lowest heat possible, basically in its own juices. This is achieved by heating the pouch in a temperature-controlled water bath, then cooling it gradually. Accordingly, the flavors remain concentrated. They completely saturate the food, usually a protein, which maintains its structural integrity and keeps nice and tender because it retains all of its original juices.

Reheating is a breeze. For smaller servings, I heat up a large pot of water over medium-low heat and simply place the pouch, frozen, into the water. It will gradually heat up over 10-15 minutes or so. This is like a mock sous-vide setup in your home kitchen. Because of the low heat, the meat will heat up evenly and not seize up. For larger batches, say 3 or more large pouches (for a group of guests), I unwrap the frozen meat from the pouches, place them in a shallow pan, and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or so. The lamb will form a nice crust from the dry heat, and the sauce will reduce down a bit.

You'd never expect a frozen meal to be much palatable, let alone mouth watering. But I've certainly discovered one that is all this and quite versatile. I usually always have a box of these sitting in my freezer on hand, ready for surprise guest visits, a quick weeknight dinner for Mr.S and me, or an upscale meal for myself and a group of discerning dinner companions.

Cuisine Solutions lamb shanks are available at Costco, Wegman's, and online through Peapod.


8 comments:

Buda said...

I find it interesting that "New Zealand" features so highly on the packaging. When you buy other meats do they state where they come from so clearly?

I live in New Zealand so naturally all our lamb is from here and not labelled. I guess I've just never seen labelled lamb before. Interesting. I've also never seen frozen lamb shanks before. Figures.

Anyway, glad to see that NZ lamb is appreciated elsewhere!

Anonymous said...

福~
「朵
語‧,最一件事,就。好,你西.............................................................................................................
..................-...相互
來到你身邊,以你曾經希望的方式回應你,許下,只是讓它發生,放下,才是讓它實現,你的心願使你懂得不能執著的奧秘

Anonymous said...

酒店 ,酒店公關 ,酒店經紀 ,酒店兼職,酒店小姐, 酒店上班,酒店喝酒,酒店工作

fdg said...

You are currently spoilt for choice Polo Shirts On Sale with the selection of current star names to get put on the back of the polo ralph lauren, with such playres as Maldini, Toni, Di Rossi, Iaquinta, Pirlo, and Canavarro to name just a

few cheappolos. And three are othre rising stars who might take your fancy burbrery polos, like Rossi, Balotelli, Pazzini and Aquilani. Ralph Lauren Polo Shirts are all going to be names that

you’ll hear a lot more Burbrery Polo Shirts of in the future I’m sure.

fdg said...

I like your blog . They are really great. Ermunterung ++ .please pay a return visit to my blog http://iblog99.blogsome.com/ .thank you .

some new style Air shoes is in fashion this year.Do you know Air Shoes is a best . another kinds of nike air rift is better . the Puma basket will make you feel very relaxed when you play basketball.
If you want to buy the Cheap puma shoes shoes ,you can buy them online. Very high-caliber and cheap puma shoes as same as you buy from the authorized store.

lucyliu said...

nike air max 90
nike air max 95
nike air max tn
nike air rift
nike shox r4
nike air max 360
nike shox nz
puma mens shoes
puma shoes
puma speed
nike shoes
nike air
nike air shoes
puma cat
air max trainers
mens nike air max
nike shoes air max
nike shoes shox
air shoes
nike shoe cart
puma future
cheap puma
sports shoes
nike air rifts
nike air rift trainer
nike air
nike rift
nike rift shoes
cheap nike air rifts
bape shoes
jeans shop
diesel jeans
levis jeans

LAN said...

puma mens shoes
puma shoes
puma speed
nike shoes
nike air
nike air shoes
nike air max 90
nike air max 95
nike air max tn
nike air rift
nike shox r4
nike air max 360
nike shox nz
puma cat
air max trainers
mens nike air max
sports shoes
nike air rifts
nike air rift trainer
nike air
nike shoes air max
nike shoes shox
air shoes
Lucyliu IS Lucyliu
nike shoe cart
puma future
cheap puma
nike rift
jeans shop
diesel jeans
levis jeans
nike rift shoes
cheap nike air rifts
bape shoes

Anonymous said...

gucci replica handbags
men gucci shoes
Gucci men sneakers
Gucci men moccasins
gucci women sneakers
gucci women boots
Gucci men boots
Gucci
Gucci shop
Gucci bags
Gucci shoes
Replica GUCCI SHOES
wholesale gucci shoes
cheap Gucci handbags
Gucci ON sale
Gucci Belts
Gucci small accessories
Gucci hats & scarves
Gucci wallets
Gucci Handbags
Women Gucci shoes
Men Gucci shoes
discount gucci shoes
cheap Gucci shoes