An article describing the rising popularity of Roman food in Manhattan restaurants came out in January this year in the New York Times but, typical of my distaste for haste, I only read it yesterday (over the internet) and quite by chance at that. I think the most distinctive aspect about Roman/Lazio food, generally speaking, is that what you see is what you get … and Romans tend to thumb their noses at any “trend” or “fashion” in food … “their” cuisine is tried and tested and passed down for just as many generations as other regions (I shall name no names!) who want to lord it over us. I personally think that the best thing about this cuisine is that it serves so many vegetables and side dishes (“contorni”) with quite a variety all year round. Even my grandmother used to go for walks now and then in the countryside near where we lived looking around for wild cicoria — and the wild salad we get around here in Spring in the markets is just wonderful.
Anyway … it also got me thinking about how EASY most Roman dishes are to make and so this evening I set out to prove a point and I made abbacchio alla cacciatora. It’s far easier for me to cook this dish than it is to write about it and photograph the steps! “Alla cacciatora” chez the Romans means the use of vinegar, garlic, anchovies and rosemary – and you can cook chicken pieces this way too.
I’ve counted the photos for the initial phase -there are 12 of them. Here are the captions for each photo …
1. the lamb ( abbacchio) rougly cut into chunks
2. I use a tiny amount of flour to dust the meat
3. sauté the garlic, making sure it doens’t turn brown
4. do instead brown the lamb
5. in a glass bowl, here are some anchovy fillets, rosemary needles and vinegar
6. very expertly and professionally, I chop everything up with scissors (you could use a mortar and pestle if you’re in the mood)
7. some white wine is also needed
8. when the lamb has browned sufficiently, pour in the vinegar with the rosemary and anchovy fillets all mushed up
9. the whiff of the vinegar is quite overpowering at first … so no chance of fainting even if you wanted to …
10. then pour in the wine
11. and some water too just to be democratic – add salt and pepper too
12. see how creamy it gets? At this point, cover the saucepan and simmer for about 40 minutes checking every now and then in case a little more water needs to be poured in.