Today is Mrs. Likko’s birthday. And for her birthday I shall come home, put a gin and tonic in her, and take her to our backyard paradise where she will sit comfortably and be waited upon by her husband, who shall promise to not talk about the frustrations of his work day, nor to blog, all night long, the better to give her all my attention. I shall have prepared one of her favorite meals: lamb chops.
If you want to replicate what I’m serving the love of my life on her birthday, here’s how I’m doing it:
- Eight lamb chops, about 1½” thick each
- One small
- Four large cloves of garlic, crushed
- Twenty or so leaves of fresh rosemary
- A goodly amount of coarse-ground black pepper
- Some salt
- 6 strands of saffron
- A dash of ground savory
- A pinch of oregano
- One basil leaf
- Two dashes of cayenne pepper
- One ounce of red wine
- One ounce of soy sauce
Vacuum-seal all ingredients in food-safe plastic and immerse in water at 128° F for four and a half hours. Pat dry. Brush lightly with olive oil, then brown with handheld blowtorch. Mint sauce optional; Mrs. Likko eschews it so I’ll forego the trouble of making it.
Protip for the home sous vide cook: liquid ingredients like wine and soy sauce will make a tight vacuum seal much more difficult to attain; you can work around this by freezing your liquids in an ice cube tray until they are solid. Keep them in the freezer until you are ready to use them because most cooking liquids like wine and soy sauce have a much lower melting point than water so they’ll begin to melt immediately upon exposure to room temperature air. But it’s way easier sealing up a cube of soy sauce than a liquid ounce of it.
Lamb cooks much more quickly than beef in the sous vide; the long-seeming duration of the cooking is to preserve the rareness of the lamb and still satisfy the demands of food safety. Experienced sous vide cooks will know that at this temperature, I’ll have satisfied, but only just, the time and temperature demands to pasteurize the meat so as to avoid the risk of contamination. This is for my wife; the last thing I want is to make her sick. You should feel the same way about the special someone you’re preparing this meal for, too.
On to the rest of the meal. Mrs. Likko is actually not so big on starches, so there will be no potatoes or rice or probably even bread with her dinner. If you’re going to serve a starch with your lamb, I suggest a rice pilaf or couscous, with some olive oil, salt, and chopped parsley and mint. As all you cooks out there know, by adding a starch, you can stretch your meat out to a larger number of people affordably; you can feed four people instead of two with these eight lamb chops if you serve them up a ramekin of couscous alongside the meat.
But back to dinner tonight at Casa Likko. Instead of a starch, I’ll make a pan of Brussels sprouts, seared in garlic-chive butter, steamed until soft, and then dressed with a grating of Parmesan cheese; this is just about her favorite vegetable. Dessert will involve some chocolatey indulgence I have not yet concocted as I write this and schedule it in the blog’s queue, said indulgence to be served with a glass of red wine because, you know, chocolate and red wine.
Happy birthday, my darling; I love you. As for the rest of the Readers, yeah, you’re okay, too. Enjoy the lamb!
* Did I really type “scallion” when I meant “shallot”? My bad.