Lamb’s Neck with Duck Yolk Custard, Pickled Radishes, and Sunchokes

Michael Scelfo

Alden & Harlow, The Longfellow Bar at Alden & Harlow, and Waypoint Cambridge, MA

Michael Scelfo's succulent lamb dish was a runaway hit at our Cambridge Cookout event at the Beard House. Both elegant and hearty, this recipe is guaranteed to please a crowd.


Lamb Neck:

  • 3 to 4 pounds lamb neck
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 large stalks celery, washed and halved
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and halved
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 4 bay leaves, dried
  • 5 cups water or stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • Chives to garnish

Duck Yolk Custard:

  • 2 duck egg yolks
  • Pinch of salt

Pickled Sunchokes and Radishes:

  • 4 ounces sunchokes, washed and peeled
  • 4 ounces radishes (French breakfast work well)
  • 2 cups rice wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white table sugar

Sunchoke Purée:

  • 1 pound sunchokes, washed and peeled
  • Milk to cover
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1/2 large white Spanish onion, peeled
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed


Make the lamb neck: preheat the oven to 300ºF. Season the lamb neck heavily with salt and pepper. Heat a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-high heat, and add some cooking oil. When it’s almost smoking hot, sear both sides until they are well browned, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the lamb neck, and set aside. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and bay leaves, and brown them as well, about 7 minutes. When they’re well seared, deglaze the pan with the red wine. Add the stock or water, and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, add the lamb neck, cover, and place in the oven until the meat is very tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Once done, allow the meat to cool to room temperature in the liquid (removing it while hot will dry out the meat). Once cool, remove the meat, strain the liquid, and discard the solids. Skim the fat, and return the pot to the stove over medium-high heat. Reduce the braising liquid until thick and flavorful but not too salty, about 10 minutes. Pick the meat from the bone into large chunks.  

Prepare the duck yolk custard: set up a double boiler by filling a large pot with a cup or two of water, and bringing it to a boil. Crack the duck yolks into a stainless steel bowl that is large enough to rest on top of the pot of water (the bottom of the bowl should not be touching the water). Holding the bowl over the boiling water, gently whisk the yolks until they start to thicken, moving them constantly so that they don’t scramble, about 7 minutes.

Prepare the sunchokes and radishes: thinly slice the sunchokes and radishes on a mandoline, or if none is available, with a knife as thin as you can. To pickle the sunchokes, boil the rice wine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar together. Allow to cool for 20 minutes, then pour the pickling solution over the sliced vegetables until submerged.

Prepare the sunchoke purée: simmer the sunchokes, onions, garlic, and bay leaves with enough milk to cover. Once fork-tender, about 30 minutes, strain the solids out of the milk. Discard the bay leaves, and purée in a food processor. Add just enough of the milk until the purée is velvety smooth and thick, like sour cream.

To serve, toss the meat with chives, a small amount of the braising liquid reduction, and some of the pickled roots. Put a small pool of the warm purée on the plate, a pile of the meat on top, and a dollop of the thickened egg yolk custard on top of that. Drizzle with any extra braising liquid reduction. Garnish with sautéed radish greens, if you desire.


Serves 6 to 8