Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Roman Lamb ~ Abbacchio alla Cacciatora

Price per serving for two: $3.85

You will need to buy lean lamb 'thick' steak or large boneless shoulder to be cut into chunks. Not too many people think of lamb when you mention Italian cooking. However, lamb is an important meat used in especially Roman cooking. I found that out when I was in Rome almost 20 years ago. Roman abbacchio (lamb) is delicious. Roman cooks have a number to truly classic dishes and foremost is Abbacchio alla Cacciatora. The term cacciatora refers in this case to the seasoning, which is a mixture of garlic, rosemary, and vinegar.


To get started, heat 4 tbs of good quality olive oil into a covered skillet, add the lamb, and brown the meat on high heat seasoning to taste with salt and pepper; continuing cooking by stirring the pieces until brown on all sides. Lower the heat and add a whole clove of crushed garlic along with a sprig of fresh rosemary. This dish is so incredibly delicious because of the fresh rosemary. As you know, I use a lot of fresh dried herbs including rosemary. However, this dish in particular requires a fresh cut sprig which is truly captures the beauty of this meat.

Turn the heat back up and continue browning the meat for a few more minutes, turning it and sprinkling it with the flour, then add the vinegar and an equal amount of water. Move your wood spoon around to scrape the bottom of the skillet to dislodge any particles that happen to have stuck on the skillet bottom, and even if some appear to be almost blackened, don't worry. The taste is only enhanced. Now, reduce the heat to simmer, and cover until adding a little more liquid if the sauce looks too thick.

For the true Roman, anchovies are always part of some meal. Personally, I can do without. But, if you dare, then you can do as the Romans (when in Rome do as the Romans) . So, while the lamb is cooking, scoop a spoonful or two of the juices into a bowl and combine them with a few anchovies and 1 tbs of brown sugar to make a paste. When the meat is done, stir the paste into it and heat for another minute, then serve.

When preparing this for the American family, put the paste on the side (to use as a condiment) and serve the dish with zucchini, green and red peppers over a bed of rice.  

Tutti a Tavola! 

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