Abbacchio alla Romana recipe

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Abbacchio alla Romana – Roman roast lamb – is slow-cooked and packed full of flavour. Stewart Turner, our Head Chef, shares his take on this Italian classic. Prior to joining Berry Bros. & Rudd, Stewart worked in some of the country’s finest kitchens; his resumé includes The Connaught Hotel, The Wolseley and three Michelin-starred The Waterside Inn.

This is my go-to lamb braise for when late summer transitions to autumn. I adapted this Abbacchio alla Romana from the recipe of a good friend in Australia; it was the signature dish of the famous Grossi Florentino in Melbourne when he worked there.

As with most slow-cooked dishes, this actually improves with reheating; I often cook the lamb until tender the day before, then put the crust on and reheat until the crust is golden.

Abbacchio alla Romana

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1kg lamb middle neck fillets – cut into large chunks
  • 6 ripe tomatoes – coarsely chopped
  • 2 onions – coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sage – picked and chopped
  • ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley – chopped
  • 1 tbsp thyme – picked and chopped
  • 1 tbsp rosemary – picked and chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves – quartered
  • 1 long red chilli – coarsely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 300ml lamb stock
  • 80ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for sealing the lamb
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 100g Parmesan – finely grated
  • 150g coarse crustless sourdough breadcrumbs

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Heat a large frying pan with a good glug of oil. Season the lamb well and seal until nicely browned all over.

Place the sealed lamb in a large deep roasting tray or casserole, then scatter over the tomato, onion, herbs, garlic and chilli. Combine the stock, olive oil and wine, pour the mixture over the lamb and then massage into the meat. Cover and braise in the oven for an hour.

Combine the cheese and breadcrumbs in a bowl. Once the lamb is just starting to become tender, remove it from the oven and scatter the breadcrumb mix on top. Return to the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes; it will soak up the cooking juices and form a lovely crust.

Once cooked, allow to sit for 15 minutes. Serve with roast new potatoes and some seasonal greens.

What to drink – recommended wine pairing from Will Heslop, Buying Assistant

Delicately seasoned roast lamb is flattered by mature Claret, Syrah or Rioja; this full-flavoured dish, replete with herbs, chilli and garlic, calls for something a little more boisterous. You’ll also want your wine to have plenty of acidity to cope with the acidic tomato-based sauce.

Call me old-fashioned, but given the recipe’s origins, why look any further than Italy? A sappy, savoury Sangiovese, such as Monte Bernardi’s Retromarcia Chianti Classico, is just the ticket. Its dusty tannins respond brilliantly to both red meat and salty parmesan.

For something different, try the superb Liatiko Aggelis from Domaine Lyrarakis in Crete; it too has a herbal edge and a joyfully sour finish. Another option, from the same producer, is the extraordinary Dafni Psarades; this bay-leaf scented white would work very well, particularly with leftovers the following day.