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Roast Lamb, Roman Style

Abbacchio al Forno alla Romana
Roast baby lamb, considered a delicacy, takes the place of honor on the Italian table. The word abbacchio refers specifically to baby lamb weighing between 15 and 25 pounds and milk-fed. Lamb is prepared in many ways; grilled on a spit, braised, stewed, and oven roasted. Romans take particular pride in their method of cooking it. Some serve it flavored with anchovies, vinegar and wine.

Serves 8


4-pound leg of lamb with shank bone attached

3 cloves garlic, slivered

3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves  

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper

1 cup dry white wine like Pinot Grigio


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 1 -1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the leg registers an internal temperature of 135-140ºF for medium rare or 160ºF for medium. Baste the meat every 15 minutes with the pan juices. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and let it cool slightly. 

Carve into pieces, arrange on a platter, and pour the pan juices over the meat. Serve immediately. 

To make a gravy for the roast, skim off the top fat from the pan drippings and place the pan over two stove top burners. Over medium heat stir in 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth and stir to make a smooth sauce. Season with salt and pepper and serve on the side.

This recipe is from Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites by Mary Ann Esposito.

This recipe is featured in Episode 2101 of Season 20.



  1. p s's avatar

    p s

    Roast lamb, Roman style

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