Italian Lamb Recipes
Most of Italy’s lamb is raised in the central and southern regions, particularly in the area around Rome. Here the land is hilly and rocky, better suited to grazing sheep
than cattle. The youngest lamb is abbacchio (ah-BAHK-ee-yoh). These month-old milk fed lamb have a pale pink flesh, similar to veal, that is meltingly tender.
The animals are 20-30 days old and weigh between 10 and 20 pounds. Abbacchio is usually spit-roasted whole. Spring lamb, which is 3 to 5 months old, has a
darker flesh but should also be very tender and can be used for roasting or grilling. Older lamb (agnello), is still under a year old, has a dark red flesh with a layer of
creamy fat on the outside and is suitable for roasting or stewing.
In Italy, lamb is mostly a seasonal dish, enjoyed in the spring when lambs are very young and the meat is extremely tender. Italians associate lamb with the end of
winter and the rebirth and renewal that comes with Easter. The lamb represents the sacrifice of Christ, the "lamb of God," and is often referred to as the Pasqual lamb.
Although there is no standard Easter menu, lamb is usually the meat of choice on an Italian table at Easter. The lamb may be slow-cooked, stewed, sauteed, or
roasted with herbs and spring vegetables.
An important thing to note about larger cuts of lamb is that they are covered by a papery white membrane called the fell, which should be remove if your butcher hasn't
already done so. To remove the fell from a piece of lamb, find a place where the layer of fell and fat will come free. Slip a knife under it and pull the fell up at this point, cutting it away with the blade and being careful to keep the blade to the side of the fell rather than the meat. Once you have removed the fell you can trim away any additional fat that you want; keep in mind that a little fat will help keep the meat moist as it cooks.
Basil Stuffed Lamb Roast
(Serves 10 to 12)
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
10 ounces fresh spinach, blanched and squeezed dry
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
3 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6 cups croutons
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Water, as needed to moisten
1 (7-8 pound) leg of lamb, boned and butterflied
Salt and pepper to taste
In a small skillet, sauté onion, celery, and garlic in oil until tender.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, spinach, parsley, basil, and pepper.
Add the onion mixture, croutons, and cheese. Stir well.
Add about 1/2 cup of water, or until mixture holds together. Set aside.
To prepare lamb, pound with a mallet to an even thickness. Season with salt and pepper. Spread the stuffing evenly over the meat. Roll the meat up and secure with twine to hold stuffing in. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Place the roast, seam side down, on a rack in a roasting pan.
Roast, uncovered for 1-1/2 hours for medium-rare or about 135 degrees.
Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Grilled Leg of Lamb
In Sicily, this herb marinade is also used to coat lamb chops and cubes of lamb cooked on a skewer. A nice accompaniment to grilled lamb are stuffed artichokes.
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
4 sage leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon, chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper
3 to 4 pound boned and butterflied leg of lamb
Combine the garlic, oil, lemon juice, herbs, salt and pepper in a shallow pan.
Add the lamb, turning to coat both sides. Allow to marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preheat a gas, charcoal, or stove top grill. Pat the meat dry.
Grill 8 to 10 minutes per side, depending on the thickness, for medium-rare.
Remove the lamb from the grill and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Thinly slice the meat across the grain. Serve.
Roast Leg of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary
(Serves 8 to 10)
1 (4 to 5 pound) shank-end leg of lamb, trimmed
6 garlic cloves, cut into slivers
1 large spring of rosemary, stems removed
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. With a small sharp knife, make small slits all over the lamb. Poke the garlic and rosemary into the slits.
Place the lamb, fat side up, in a large roasting pan. Drizzle the lamb with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 60 to 75 minutes, or to 130 degrees F. on a meat thermometer, for medium-rare. Transfer the lamb to a cutting board. Cover with foil and let rest 15 minutes. Slice the lamb and serve.
Neapolitan Fricassee of Lamb
Agnello brodettato is one of most typical ways to prepare lamb in Rome, especially at Easter; lamb and egg being symbols of the crucifixion and resurrection. The term 'brodettato', literally 'in a little broth', is more or less synonymous with the term fricassee.
4 to 5 pounds of boneless lamb, cut into 2-inch cubes
1/2 cup olive oil
4 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 cup dry white wine, divided
2-1/2 cups peas *
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 bunch fresh parsley (leaves only), chopped
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper
Lemon slice for garnish
Pat the lamb pieces dry. Heat the oil in a stove top casserole over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and saute until well browned. Remove the lamb to a plate. Turn the heat to low and add the onions. Cover and cook the onions until very tender, 15-20 minutes. Add a little water to keep the onions from getting too brown.
Add the browned lamb to the onions with 1/2 cup of the wine. Continue cooking over medium-low, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until the wine is almost evaporated. Add the remaining wine, 1/2 cup of water, and the peas.
Cover and cook over medium-low heat for another 30 minutes.
Remove the lamb, onions, and peas from the casserole to a serving platter.
Keep the casserole on low heat.
In a small bowl beat the eggs together with the Parmesan cheese. Add a ladleful of the meat juices to the egg mixture and blend well. Slowly add the egg mixture into the juices in the casserole and mix well. Continue beating the sauce until it is thick enough to coat a spoon. Do not let the sauce come to a boil or the eggs will scramble.
Remove the sauce form the heat and stir in the parsley and lemon juice.
Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the lamb and peas. Garnish with lemon slices and serve.
* Although peas are traditional in this dish, you may substitute another vegetable. We like it with artichoke hearts.
Rack of Lamb
French trimming is a decorative technique that removes the fat and membranes from the bones down to the loin. Rack of lamb is usually sold this way but you can also ask your butcher to "French" it for you.
1 rack of lamb, French trimmed (about 1-1/2 pounds)
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup Italian-flavored bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the lamb in a roasting pan, fat side up. Season with the salt and pepper. Roast the lamb for 10 minutes.
Combine the garlic, bread crumbs, Parmesan and parsley in a small bowl.
Take the lamb out of the oven. Quickly spread the mustard on top of the meat and press the bread crumb mixture into it. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
Return the lamb to the oven and roast for another 15 minutes for medium-rare. Take the lamb out of the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Cut into chops, and serve.
4 pounds new or fingerling potatoes, cut into halves
4 tablespoons fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup olive oil
In a large bowl, combine potatoes with rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
Spread potatoes out in a large baking pan.
Bake at 325 degrees F. for 45 to 60 minutes, or until golden brown.
ITALIAN MEAT RECIPES > ITALIAN LAMB RECIPES
AGNELLO DI PASQUA
For many Italians, Easter without lamb on their table is hard to imagine. The tradition of eating lamb at Easter is strongly rooted in history. The lamb ("agnello," in Italian) is an important symbol in many religions, but especially in Christianity. In Italy, the most sought-after lamb for Easter is the agnello da latte (milk-fed-lamb). In regions of Lazio and Abruzzo, it's also called abbacchio, which is a four-week-old lamb exclusively nourished by its mother's milk. In recent years, older lambs up to a year old, are more in demand in Italy. In the rural areas of central and southern Italy, it is still common to slowly roast whole lambs outside over an open fire or in wood burning ovens normally used for bread. The roasted lamb is often accompanied by roasted potatoes.
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