Another drop in the temperature was all the excuse I needed to make Astrid’s lamb Abruzzi. This is a dish that my friends Helen and Ed served at a New Year’s dinner a couple of years ago and I loved it. I believe that they got this wonderful winter recipe from one of their neighbors who may indeed be Astrid. The house smelled amazing while it was cooking and I am drooling over the leftovers. It is easy to make as it sits quietly simmering in the oven for 5 hours but, I admit, it is not cheap as it uses a whole leg of lamb instead of the cheap cuts of meat you often use for stews. This recipe serves 6 generously.
1 leg of lamb (approximately 5lbs)
1.5 lbs onions, chopped
3 red peppers cut into strips or large cubes
3 red chili peppers, finely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, left whole
3 tsp oregano (I used some from the freezer)
3x 14 fl-oz cans tomatoes (can be whole or diced)
1 bottle of white wine (Italian seemed the obvious choice – I used a pinot grigio)
Salt and Pepper
(optional – fresh parsley to garnish)
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven and brown the joint well on all sides . Remove the joint and set aside. Remove any burnt bits from the pan and add a little more oil if necessary. Sweat the onions, garlic, chili and peppers. When the onions are starting to soften add the oregano, tomatoes and the wine and bring to a simmer. Place the joint on top of the mixture and baste well with the sauce. Add a tight fitting lid and cook for 4 hours. Baste generously and cook for a further hour. Garnish with parsley to serve. This can also be cooked very successfully in a large slow cooker but you will need to reduce the amount of liquid and increase the time.
The lamb goes well served with polenta or couscous and some green vegetables. It definitely needs something that can soak up some sauce. Last night we ate it with potato and celeriac mash and a steamed head of romanesco broccoli. Romanesco is a funky looking ‘fractal-food‘ that tastes like a cross between cauliflower and broccoli. Please don’t ask me to explain self-similarity…. all I can tell you is that it is very cool and delicious (both raw and cooked) – provided you like broccoli and cauliflower.