Top Chef Masters is back! A brief reminder as to why this is an obsession for us: Top Chef Masters premiered just months after K and I met. We got ambitious and decided we could totally cook what these brilliant chefs were making. So we started cooking along with Top Chef Masters and Wednesday nights became our Top Chef tradition. We get inspired by the food, we cook together, we toast each other and we settle in with our pups and watch the newest Top Chef episode. This blog originated out of my desire to write and share this fun little hobby of ours.
As the blog has grown and our skills have improved, we’ve started transforming these master ideas and recipes into meals that are a bit more home cook-friendly. It was with this in mind that we chose to make chef Odette Fada’s cold roast lamb with cauliflower and anchovy salad (original recipe here). Then I saw our gorgeous little racks of lamb and realized we absolutely had to use a specialized piece of kitchen equipment …
the sous vide machine. Loyal readers may recall that I am the world’s most awesome wife and purchased the much wished-for sous vide machine as K’s Christmas gift a few years ago. I was afraid it would sit in the basement and collect dust (which it did, for awhile) because it is something of a one trick pony. Over time, however, I have come to appreciate that if you cook meat, fish, seafood and/or veggies with any regularity and want to do justice to them, the sous vide machine is the way to go. Since it is a water bath at a constant temperature, you will never over cook your food. So I slathered the lamb with a little olive oil, salted and peppered them, then sprinkled them with garlic powder, fennel seeds and dried, crushed rosemary then put it in the sous vide machine for two hours at 140 degrees F.
I had a big bunch of leeks and cauliflower from the farmers market and a bulb of fresh fennel. We thinly sliced the leeks and fennel and sautéed them until caramelized and crisp. We broke apart the cauliflower, tossed it in olive oil and lemon juice and put it on some foil on the grill to roast it. We also finished the lamb on the grill to give it some nice char.
A simple dressing of olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic and minced anchovies was ready to drizzle over the cauliflower. And as a final touch, we crisped up some bacon to sprinkle on top of all the veggies.
Perfect meat in “set it and forget it” style — what more could you ask for? Two enthusiastic thumbs up for our Sous Vide Supreme. It really is a great tool for home cooks.
Here’s how we did it:
Grilled Lamb with Fennel, Leeks and Cauliflower
2 small racks of lamb (approximately 1/2 lb each)
1 TB dried rosemary, crushed
1 TB fennel seeds
1 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 head cauliflower, cut or broken into small florets
1 TB fresh squeezed lemon juice
Enough extra virgin olive oil to coat
2 leeks, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
2 large pieces of bacon (or 4 small pieces of bacon)
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest
1 TB lemon juice
6 small anchovy filets, minced
1 tsp minced garlic
If using a sous vide machine: Rub the lamb with olive oil, spices, salt and pepper. Place lamb in bag and seal using vacuum sealer. Place in sous vide machine set at 140 degrees F for at least two hours. Heat a grill (or grill pan) to medium-high and sear each side briefly until grill marks appear.
If not using a sous vide machine: Marinate the lamb in olive oil, spices, salt and pepper for 30 minutes. Add 1 TB oil to a cast iron pan and sear the lamb on one side for 5-7 minutes. Flip and sear on other side for 5-7 minutes. Put lamb in the cast iron pan in oven set to 400 degrees F for an additional 5-7 minutes until it’s medium-rare. Let the lamb rest and cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Heat a grill (or grill pan) to medium-high and sear each side briefly until grill marks appear.
Trim, clean and thinly slice the leeks. Saute in extra virgin olive oil until lightly browned and crisp.
Thinly slice the fennel and saute in extra virgin olive oil until lightly browned. Mix the fennel and leeks and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Cook the bacon until crisp and cut or break into bacon bits.
Cut or break cauliflower into small florets. Toss in olive oil, lemon juice and salt liberally. Place on aluminum foil and grill at 450-500 degrees for 15-20 minutes until brown and crisp. Or roast in oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes until brown and crisp.
To make the dressing, mince anchovies and mix with lemon juice, garlic and lemon zest. Slowly drizzle in extra virgin olive oil while whisking. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the cauliflower to serve.
Sprinkle bacon bits over fennel, leeks and cauliflower. Serve.
Everything above can also be served cool as well, so this is a great make-ahead meal or take along for a late summer/early autumn picnic. Enjoy and remember to do justice to your meat!