Lamb in Italy, or ‘abbacchio’ (pronounced abba-key-oh), is really baby lamb and is as tender as tender can be. It is considered a delicacy and is not the cheapest meat to buy. ‘Mutton’, such as it exists, is not eaten much unless it is stewed or made into a pasta sauce or cut into chops to cook over a grill and usually goes by the name of ‘castrato’.
Lamb chops here are the size of a finger and are not always available, so I asked my butcher to chop a lamb’s leg into fairly chunky pieces. An easy-peasy way to cook the chops which a surprisingly ‘rich’ final taste follows.
First: preheat the oven at 220°C.
A frying pan with olive oil, whole peppers, crushed garlic and some rosemary needles.
Sear the chops on a fairly high heat …
Sprinkle salt and pepper in abundance ….
It will take less than ten minutes to sear both sides. Turn over only once. Switch off heat.
Pour any juices and scrape any bits onto the chops. Turn the heat on again …
Put the pan back on the heat ….
Pour the desired amount of red wine … maybe half a glass? Let it reduce a little …
While the wine is evaporating, add sprigs of rosemary to the oven dish.
The wine is saying “ready” !
Pour it over the meat.
Put the meat in the oven and cook …. until done. Yes, I realise that is a very vague instruction but a lot depends on how tender the meat is, the size of the chops and the type of oven. This lot you see here took half an hour to cook.
And here it is out of the oven …. look at the colour of the gravy! Wonderful. The rosemary, on the other hand, looks a bit past it … and can safely be removed by the more pernickety.
Put the lid on. What I love about this dish is the air of mystery it presents … imagine bringing that to the table and having your guests wonder what’s inside!
What a satisfying sense of abundance … we have artichokes and pumpkin soufflé rounds, we have wild rice (at the back), there are some salt-cooked onions peeking from the left and we have shiny green cicoria, all to accompany our chops.