Merino Loin Fillets with Fennel Compote and Orange and Olive Salad
For the lamb:
- 2 Merino lamb loin fillets
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 (2-inch/5 cm) pieces of orange peel
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (14 g) unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) high-smoke point vegetable oil for searing the loins
For the fennel compote:
- 2 cups (650 g) fennel bulb, medium-diced
- ¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) fennel seeds, roughly chopped
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) honey
- ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) dried red chile flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 orange, for zest
- ½ cup (120 ml) vegetable or chicken stock
For the salad:
- 2 oranges, zest removed and cut into thin strips
- ½ cup olives (Taggiasca or other small black Ligurian or green Castelvetrano olives)
- ½ cup (114 g) Israeli or French feta, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup (10 g) minced fresh mint, plus some extra leaves for garnish
- reserved fennel fronds for garnish, optional
- Fill and preheat the Sous Vide Supreme 132F/55.5C (or your preferred temperature of doneness for lamb—see time and temperature chart) and your conventional oven to 350F/175C.
- Trim the fat caps from the loin fillets and season them with salt and pepper.
- Put each fillet into a separate cooking pouch along with two sprigs of the thyme, a bay leaf, and a piece of the orange peel and vacuum seal the pouches.
- Submerge the pouches in the water oven to cook for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.
- Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for the fennel compote in a cast iron skillet and heat on the stovetop to a boil.
- Cover the skillet with a lid or foil and move to the oven to braise for about 45 minutes, then check the fennel and give it a stir. Replace the cover and continue to cook until the fennel breaks down into a meltingly soft compote, approximately another 15 minutes.
- While the meat and fennel are cooking, make the salad:
- Lay the orange slices on a long, thin platter with each one just overlapping the next
- Scatter the olives and crumbled feta around the plate, drizzle with the olive oil and garnish with mint.
- When the loin has finished cooking, put a big of high-smoke point oil into a skillet and sear the surface of the meat briefly just for color and caramelized flavor.
- Slice the lamb and serve it on the salad or on its own platter with the fennel compote spooned over or alongside it.