Sardinian Mutton Sous Vide (Pecora in Umido)

In Sardinia braised mutton is a regular item on restaurant menus. It has more depth of flavor and is more unctuous than lamb. If you can’t find mutton, you can also make this with lamb or even beef.

You can also find braised mutton in other parts of Italy. What makes this a Sardinian recipe is the use of sundried tomatoes and omitting carrot and celery. To make it even more Sardinian I’ve also added some dried mirto berries, but those are optional.

By cooking the mutton sous vide for 24 hours at 74C/165F rather than on the stovetop, it will be very tender and juicy, and will always turn out perfect. 24 hours sounds like a long time, but you don’t have to do anything during that time other than waiting for the magic to happen.


Serves 6

  • 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) mutton stewing meat
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 mirto berries (optional)
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) red wine
  • 6 sundried tomatoes, soaked in hot water and then minced
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil


Do not cut the mutton into bite size pieces before browning, but only after browning. The mutton I acquired came in large chunks. If yours comes in one piece, slice it into thick steaks. Season the mutton with salt and allow the salt to penetrate into the meat for at least 1 hour, or even better overnight in the refrigerator.

Allow 6 sundried tomatoes to soak for 10-15 minutes in hot water to soften them and to get rid of some of the salt. Then drain and mince them.

Pat the meat dry with paper towels before browning. Wet meat does not brown easily.

Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and sear the mutton on all sides over very high heat. Brown the meat in batches, so the pan is not overcrowded. This allows the liquid that will come out of the meat to evaporate more quickly, thus browning the meat more quickly. We only want to sear the outside of the meat, and keep the inside as raw as possible because we want as much of that wonderful sous vide texture as possible.

Turn the meat only once, to brown it without cooking the inside more than necessary.

Take the mutton out of the pan as soon as it has been browned on all sides, and place it on a plate in a single layer to cool off. Do not clean the pan, but add a chopped onion to the pan with the drippings from browning the meat. Add 1 or 2 additional tablespoons of olive oil if needed.

Stir the onion over medium heat until it is soft, about 10 minutes. Then add 2 minced garlic cloves…

…as well as 1 bay leaf, 6 mirto berries (optional), 2 tablespoons of minced fresh flat leaf parsley, and the minced sundried tomatoes. Stir for another minute over medium heat, taking care that the garlic does not turn brown (because that would make it bitter).

Deglaze with 120 ml of red wine.

Scrape with a wooden spatula to get all of the flavor into the sauce.

Allow the wine to reduce over medium heat until the mixture looks almost dry, then turn off the heat and allow the pan and its contents to cool completely.

Allow the seared mutton to cool off as well, covered in the refrigerator. This is because it is best to vacuum seal the meat when it is completely chilled. If you will be using ziploc bags, it is not needed to allow the meat to cool off first.

Cut the chilled meat into bitesize pieces and then mix it with the sauce. The meat should still be raw on the inside.

Vacuum seal the mutton with the sauce.

Cook the mutton sous vide at 74C/165F for about 24 hours (a few hours more or less won’t make a noticeable difference).

After cooking sous vide you can serve the mutton straight away, or chill it by placing the bags in cold water (with ice cubes if needed) and then store it in the refrigerator or freezer. You can then reheat it sous vide, 1 hour at 74C/165F (or 1.5 hours directly from frozen).

To serve, pour the liquid out of the bag into a pan.

Taste for salt. If the saltiness is to your liking, just bring the liquid to a boil. If it is not salty enough, allow the liquid to reduce a bit.

Add the meat to the liquid and then turn off the immediately. Stir and allow to rest for a minute or so. Remove the mirto berries, if using.

Serve the braised mutton on preheated plates. I served it with a side of grilled zucchini.

Wine pairing

This is great with a full bodied but soft oak-aged red wine from Sardinia, a Cannonau di Sardegna or a Carginano del Sulcis.

2 thoughts on “Sardinian Mutton Sous Vide (Pecora in Umido)

  1. Interesting food lesson for me – I knew nothing about the use of mutton in southern Italy and even less about the use of myrtle berries in cooking! Mutton has to be bought at butchers and not supermarkets here these days and the berries are virtually unavailable unless from specialty shops. Find the dish inviting tho’ I do not use the sous-vide and shall emulate it in my own style . . . yes, I love the zucchini . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This Sardinian Mutton Sous Vide (Pecora in Umido) recipe from Stefan Gourmet sounds absolutely amazing! The slow cooking method of sous vide ensures the mutton becomes incredibly tender and flavorful. The presentation is enticing, with the succulent pieces of meat accompanied by a rich and aromatic sauce. The preparation process highlights the precision and care needed to achieve the perfect texture and taste. It’s a recipe that showcases the culinary traditions of Sardinia and promises to be a hearty and memorable dining experience.

    Liked by 1 person

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