Roast baby lamb, considered a delicacy, takes the place of honor on the Italian Easter table. The word abbacchio refers specifically to baby lamb weighing between 15 and 25 pounds and milk-fed. Lamb is prepared in many ways in Italy: Grilled on a spit, braised, stewed, and roasted in the oven. The Romans take particular pride in their method of cooking lamb.
1 4-pound leg of lamb
3 cloves garlic, slivered
3 springs fresh rosemary, leaves only, or 2 tablespoons dried
1/2 cup Filippo Berio olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
Wipe the meat dry with paper towels. With a small knife make slits about 1-inch deep all over the meat and insert the slivers of garlic and rosemary.
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, salt, and pepper and mix well with a fork. Rub the mixture all over the lamb, coating it well. Place the meat in a deep dish, cover it, and let it marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Place the lamb on a rack in a roasting pan and add the wine to the pan. Roast for 1 to 1½ hours or until the internal temperature reaches 170ºF., basting the meat every 15 minutes with the pan juices. Remove the roast to a cutting board and let cool slightly.
Carve into pieces, arrange on a platter, and pour the pan juices over the meat. Serve immediately.
This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company Inc., in 1991.
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