I went to the market last week and found the most beautiful piece of lamb I had seen in a while. It is called ”souris d’agneau”, it is a small shank from a very young lamb. I think the English translation would be lamb knuckle or lamb hind shank. It is known to be the best part of the beast and it was tender and delicious indeed.
Abbacchio is an Italian term used to describe a milk-fed baby lamb, no older than one month. I am not sure you can find this in North America. Using the lamb knuckle is probably the next best thing.
Don’t be turned off by the use of anchovies in this recipe. You do not taste them in the final product. They are merely there to intensify the flavor of the lamb. I served it on a Jerusalem artichoke smash with rapini on the side. Enjoy!
Abbacchio alla romana
4 lamb knuckles or hind shanks (see text)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, whole
4 anchovies, finely chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a heavy-bottom pot, heat the oil over medium heat and cook the garlic until it starts to get brown then discard.
2. Increase the heat to medium-high and sauté the meat on all sides until well browned. This process should take about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and season well with salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. Lower the heat to medium-low. Add the anchovies and rosemary to the oil and stir for a minute, until fragrant. Add the meat back into the pot and stir well to coat. Add the vinegar and continue stirring for a minute. Add the wine, cover and simmer over low heat until the meat is tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hour.
4. Check once in a while to make sure there is enough liquid in the pot, adding water or wine if needed. When the meat is tender and falls off the bone, check the sauce consistency: if it is too liquid, take the meat out and reduce it. If too thick, add more liquid. Correct for seasonings and serve on warm plates, topped with parsley and mint.