Thursday, May 1, 2014

Harissa of Shefele Sous-Vide

Harissa of Shefelle is an original recipe and concept based on a need and desire to eat Deli style sliced Lamb (Shefele is Yiddish). Growing up in NYC and now in Seattle I have never come across Deli-Style-Sliced-Lamb anywhere. The Consumption of Lamb in the US is very very low compared to to other parts of the world. I am making a concerted effort to eat it at least once every other month. The problem is finding great Lamb. There is also many health benefits to eating Lamb.....just Google them.  

The thoughts behind this new recipe stems from my young childhood. I grew up in NYC eating a lot of Treif. My parents were not observant and I did not know any better. It was not until I was older that I started to come back to my Jewish Roots/Faith and eliminate Treif from my diet. Now that being said I did not give up UN-Kosher foods because they tasted bad but because of my new found faith in G-D. What I do remember about Treif was that it tasted great. Growing up in NYC I ate at all the big deli's from Jewish to Italian and there were plenty of Deli's to choose from too and a plethora different kinds of Deli style meats. I loved all those meats. If you ever had a craving for Cold-Cuts (slang for Deli style meats) NYC was the premiere place to spend some time to satisfy your cravings. 

I have spent a great deal of of time replicating Delicatessen and Charcuterie because of my yearning for Cured meats. You will find that most cured meats are made from Pork and that is a NO NO for an observant Jewish man. So I am attempting to mirror those Un-Kosher cured meats with permissible cuts. This particular recipe is reminiscent of Hot Gabagoul I ate as a child. Hot Gabagoul is of course a cured meat and this lamb Dish is not. I wanted to try it this recipe first without being  dry-cured but just cooked.
First of all what is Harissa? Harissa is a hot chili paste!!! And their are many innovative  recipes that have their own twist on Harissa. I have read that it was created in Tunisian (North Africa) and from their branched out all over Africa, the middle east and all the way to Europe. Here is a great article detailing some history about Harissa and the North African Jewish people.  I chose this specific Harissa because of the positive reviews it received. My next project will be to make my own. Again their are many variations to this hot chili condiment. What drew me to this particular variation was the inclusion of Sumac to the ingredient list. 

I kept it easy and purchased a boneless leg of lamb at Costco.  

This is a beautiful leg of lamb. looking at the package it had the right shape I was looking for.

I opened up the lamb and cut away some of the thick fat. 

I made additional cuts in it so it would take on more of Harissa paste. I made a Harissa paste by combining the Harissa with olive oil. I purchased the spice from Zamouri Spices. 

Vacuumed Sealed for 48 hours. 

After 48 hours. I decided to use Transglutaminase Activa GS because it helps bind the meat together. I wanted the Lamb when fold together to become one solid muscle. I created a slurry using the Activa GS and applied it to every nook and cranny of the lamb.
Transglutaminase, also called meat glue, is an enzyme that can be used to bind proteins to make uniform portions of fish filet, tenderloins, etc. that cook evenly, look good and reduce waste. Transglutaminase can also be used for creative applications in modernist cuisine such as making shrimp noodles, binding chicken skin to scallops or even making checkerboards with different types of fish.  How can you do such a thing? Simply apply some transglutaminase on each side of the protein to bind, press the sides together and let it rest refrigerated for a few hours
Transglutaminase ‘meat glue’ was introduced into the modernist kitchen by Heston Blumenthal and is currently being used by some of the world best chefs such as Wylie Dufresne to:- Make uniform portions of fish filet, tenderloins, etc that cook evenly, look good, and reduce waste.
I fold the lamb together on its self and placed on plastic wrap and rolled up the meat into a very tight log. 

I used a sharp sausage hole pluck-er and exhausted the residual air from the Lamb. I than wrapped and rolled it several more times with plastic wrap. 

I tied it with rope to secure shape. This baby is 18 inches long. 
Vacuumed sealed. It will sit in my refrigerator for 48 hours. This will allow the Activa GS to form a bond with the meat and create one large muscle. 
This is a 49 liter (51.77 qt) polycarbonate container designed for my Sous-Vide machine. I had to buy the extra big baby to shelter the 18 incher. The container was filled with 30.5 qt of water to accommodate the Salami. 

chose 135F for the final temp of the Lamb. This temp will allow the Lamb to be very pink inside but firm enough to slice. 

The Lamb is cooking at 135F and will cook for 24-26 hours. If you notice I had to use tongs to weigh it down. I was concerned that after a few hours gas would escape and it would float. 

After the cooking process I will submerge the lamb in an ice bath to cool off quickly. After a night in the cooler I will examine the outside and determine if I should torch it to bring out the carmelization. It needs to be visually appealing.  

It came out awesome. But it needs to be Torched to bring out the the Maillard Reaction (browning) that we are all use to seeing. 

Browning it with a Butane Torch. Butane is better than propane. Propane gives off unpleasant odors. 

Just a great picture!!!! I love the smell of the fat burning. 

Browned up and ready for the next step.

That looks awesome!! Nice and pink with the Harissa popping out. 

Time for the slicing!!

All sliced up and ready to eat. The lamb came out awesome. The texture was almost perfect and the lamb was extremely flavorful. The Harissa flavors came right through. What will I do different next time? Since I sliced the meat thin I probably did not need 24 hours of cooking Sous-Vide. I think 12 hours would have been fine. I think the texture would have been better with less cooking. In addition the Activa GS worked well but did not create a perfect bond of the proteins because of the Harissa paste that I made using olive oil. Next time I will leave out the olive oil. What else could I have done? The Lamb could have benefited from a couple of hours of a fruit smoke at 225 F. This could have helped with the texture a lot.  I will give this lamb 3 out of 5 stars.  

My Ideas for Cold-Cut Lamb Sandwiches. 

  • Homemade Tzatzkik sauce, Red Onions, Fresh thick sliced Tomatoes
  • Mint Pesto, Feta cheese, Cucumber
  • A homemade Greek slaw.
  • Grilled Eggplant slices, Onion and Mint Pesto
  • Use Pita Bread
  • Tapenade, Feta cheese and Mint leaves