Lamb in Italian Cooking
The Lazio region of southern Italy, which boasts the capital of Rome at its heart, likes to portray itself as the spiritual home of the country's expertise with lamb. As a result the osterias and trattorias come spring time are enticing their customers with the tender delights of month-old carcasses that guarantee the meat is at its most delicious.
AbbacchioAbbacchio is the word you will be looking for on the sign outside (many such establishments do not prepare menus because the dishes of the day are determined by what was on offer at the market). Variations on the basic recipe will be evident from place to place, some using sage, others oregano; white wine may be included, or perhaps the addition of white- or red-wine vinegar. The common denominator is the sweetness and tenderness of the flesh, without which the dish simply would not work.
How to Make AbbacchioFor the purposes of this recipe, the herb to be used is rosemary, one of lamb's most complementary flavours.
To serve six:
- Cube a 1.25 kilogram leg, turn the pieces in a bowl of plain flour and fry in a deep casserole dish until caramelised
- Add two cloves of garlic, finely sliced, then 250 millilitres of a good white wine and simmer to burn off the alcohol
- Pour half a pint of water into the dish, turn down the heat and let the meat braise in the liquid for an hour along with some freshly chopped rosemary
- Stir Until Broken Down
- At the end of the cooking process, the evaporating liquid and the flour should have combined to reduce to a sauce of good consistency
- Add six anchovy fillets and stir until they have broken down in the sauce. If the saltiness of the anchovies has not provided sufficient salt content, adjust the seasoning to taste along with a few grinds of the pepper mill
The lamb stew could be served with fried potatoes, or some borlotti beans
Chops or Costolette in Parmesan and BreadcrumbsA more informal approach to lamb comes in the form of chops, or costolette, fried in parmigiano reggiano and breadcrumbs. Depending on how generous you are feeling or how hungry your guests are likely to be, buy three to four chops per person. The measurements here are enough for 12 chops. Brush the flesh with lemon juice, place the chops in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
Fry in a hot skillet. In a glass bowl, beat together the yolks of three eggs with a little of the lemon peel chopped finely, 200 grams of the grated cheese, a little grated nutmeg and seasoning to taste. Dip each chop in turn in the egg mixture, and then into a shallow bowl containing 200 grams of breadcrumbs, then fry in a hot skillet of extra virgin olive oil until golden brown on both sides. A squeeze of lemon juice and perhaps some freshly ground black pepper is all that is needed to finish off the dish.
The chops are best served as an appetiser, simply handing your guests a napkin and letting them descend on the serving plate, although individual portions could be prepared with a side order of salad leaves or some wilted spinach.