Lamb Shanks + Sous Vide = ?
December 23, 2016 7:38 PM   Subscribe

I have six lamb shanks. I need to cook them for Christmas Eve dinner tomorrow.

I have a pretty well stocked standard kitchen and a sous vide cooker. I live in a large city and can access pretty much any extra ingredients needed tonight or tomorrow morning. I've looked at sous vide osso buco recipes, and that seems to be the direction I'd like to go in, but I've (foolishly) accepted this challenge not having much experience with lamb shanks or with using sous vide as a technique. (It's not necessary to use the sous vide cooker, but it's available.)

How do I tackle this? Thanks!
posted by thack3r to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I make this Fine Cooking recipe whenever I can get shanks, and it's spectacular. I swap the leeks out for fennel, but it's great as written.
You could totally adapt it for the sous vide if you know how done you want your lamb, but for a Christmas meal, I'd go with the oven. Fine Cooking's stuff is pretty much bomb-proof.
posted by Kreiger at 8:05 PM on December 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Not sous vide, but here's what I do with them:

Salt and pepper seasoning on the lamb shanks. Preheat oven to 475. When the oven is hot, stand the shanks up in a baking dish and place in oven to brown the outsides for 15 minutes. You just want them to brown on the outside, without having much of the fat render. Remove from oven.

Reduce oven to 350.

Have ready six generous double-folded squares of foil, big enough so they can be closed up around the top of the shank when it's standing up, with the bone sticking out through the top.

Have ready a mixture of diced carrots, diced onions (or finely sliced leeks), smashed and sliced garlic, rosemary and sage (fresh or dry), olive oil, and a good splash of red or white wine. A bit of stock will substitute if no wine.

Place a heavy dollop of the mixture as a base on each square of foil. Place the shank, standing, on top of the mixture. Drizzle a little more on top of the shank. Seal up the foil around it, bone sticking out slightly through the top.

Return to baking dish standing up. Bake for about 2 or so hours (oven dependent) at 350.

Serve over mashed potatoes or polenta.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:06 PM on December 23, 2016 [7 favorites]

For Osso Buco (and your timeframe) I'd be more inclined to go with a pressure cooker, slow cooker, or Dutch oven. You can sous vide lamb shanks, but the recommended time frame is ~2 days. A pressure cooker can do a similar job in under an hour.

Saffron Risotto is a classic side to serve with it. You can make risotto a lot easier to make by using this technique. In the winter, I like to throw in walnuts and dried cherries and top it with crisped sage.
posted by Candleman at 8:08 PM on December 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't do them SV with less than (?) 24 hours to go. Pressure cooker is a good idea; roasting too, but always reverse sear (low oven until done then high-as-it'll-go to brown right before serving).
posted by supercres at 8:10 PM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Fuck it. Sous Vide for as long as you can at 150 degree with desired seasoning. I would then liberate my shanks + seasoning from the bag and transfer to a pressure cooker (shorter cook time) or a slow cooker (5 or 6hrs cook time) prior to service. I would feel badass about this. Probably carmelize it under a broiler to make it sexy? I dunno. I like to fuss over fancy food.

I love meat in a sous vide and I would not pass up an opportunity to at least start the dish this way. Agree you needed 40 to 48 hrs to do it right, though.
posted by jbenben at 8:47 PM on December 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh honey, Christmas (Eve) dinner is not the time to be messing around with new techniques. You need something foolproof that doesn't get ruined when Uncle Brian (*substitute random family member of choice) turns up at the last minute and insists on making the traditional family green bean casserole from scratch just when you were ready to plate up.

6 lamb shanks won't fit in any standard slow cooker or pressure cooker or dutch oven, so unless you've got an industrial sized version of one of them, you're gonna be roasting them in the oven. (And as you know, lamb tends to be fatty so you need to render the fat and you need to get that good ol' maillard reaction thing going too). Mandolin conspiracy has it (I'd go with red wine rather than white, and heavy on the rosemary and garlic).

Happy holidays! Enjoy.
posted by finding.perdita at 3:18 AM on December 24, 2016 [3 favorites]

Do know one thing, lamb, more often than other meat, is going to stink (smell) when you pull it from the bags. It will taste good- it will not smell good. That said, I'd think twice about doing this or at least have a back up plan.

See Here
posted by bkeene12 at 6:10 AM on December 24, 2016

You don't have enough time to cook lamb shanks sous vide in time for Xmas dinner. And jbenben's suggestion of starting sous vide and finishing with a pressure cooker or conventional braise won't work, as the high temperature treatment will obliterate any of the previous low temperature effects.

At this point, I would be inclined to do a standard oven braise. Do it today, strain the liquid and reduce it to a syrupy consistency, combine with the shanks and refrigerate overnight, then reheat for service tomorrow.
posted by slkinsey at 1:08 PM on December 24, 2016

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