The bank holiday brought some long awaited sun to our corner of Essex. The garden furniture was dusted off, the grass cut and the weeds rounded up in preparation for the first al fresco meal of the year. I picked up half a boned shoulder of lamb from my local butcher Holts of Witham and set to work on the long slow preparation of the dish in my sous vide supreme. We served it with a 2006 Coudoulet de Beaucastel Rouge.
SLOW COOKED SHOULDER OF LAMB
- 800g shoulder of lamb, deboned and rolled
- Large sprig of thyme and rosemary
- 1 clove of garlic
- Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- Lamb jus
- Peas and podded broad beans
- Pea shoots to serve
Preheat the water bath to 63°C.
Rub the salt and pepper into the lamb shoulder.
Place the shoulder of lamb in a clean vacuum bag, thyme, rosemary and crush the garlic with the palm of your hand.
Seal the vacuum bag and cook the lamb for 24 hours.
When ready to serve, open the bag, remove the shoulder of lamb and pat dry. Pass the remaining liquid juices in the bag through a fine sieve into a small saucepan with the lamb jus and heat through.
Heat a heavy based frying pan over a high heat and fry the lamb briefly on all sides until browned all over.
Remove the string from the lamb and cut into slices and serve with the broad beans and peas and garnish with pea shoots.
Coudoulet, as Beaucastel, owes its ability to age to the high proportion of Mourvedre – about 30% – that makes up the final cuvée. This provides a tannic backbone and resistance to oxidation that ensures long life. In addition, Mourvedre introduces aromas of leather, tobacco, and spice to the blend. One should note also that the Beaucastel and Coudoulet vineyards are at the northern limit for growing Mourvedre, and it is well known that the best expressions of any varietal come from the cooler parts of their growing areas.
The other main variety, Grenache, gives Coudoulet the rounded fullness and intense fruit that is typical of Côtes du Rhône. Syrah and Cinsault represent about 20% each and bring tannins and aromatic complexity to Coudoulet.
After careful hand harvesting, the grapes are transferred to the winery. Maceration takes place in enamel tiled vats over about 12 days before the free-run wine is taken off and a light pneumatic pressing applied.
Each grape variety is kept separately until after malo-lactic fermentation, when the final blend is decided. The young wine continues to mature for about six months in large oak barrels or “foudres”.
In March following the vintage, the wine is fined with egg whites and bottled.