Italy’s most popular cookbook ever, Il Cucchiaio d’argento, was first published in 1950, and has been treasured by generations as the definitive guide to Italian cuisine. Its 2,000 recipes are mostly from family kitchens,
not restaurants, and even the most obscure vegetable, fish, meat, pasta, oil, spice, and cheese gets its due. This 1,200-page classic is now available in English as The Silver Spoon (Phaidon Press, $39.95). Among the triumphs of authentic Italian cooking that it contains is Abbacchio alla Romana, or
Roman spring lamb.
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Recipe of the week
Roman Spring Lamb
2-1/4-lb leg of lamb
All-purpose flour, for dusting
3 tbsp olive oil
3 fresh rosemary sprigs
4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
3/4 cup white wine
5 tbsp white-wine vinegar
4 potatoes, sliced
Salt and pepper
Chop the leg into pieces or ask the butcher to do this for you. Preheat
the oven to 350º. Dust the pieces of lamb with flour. Heat the oil in a wide
roasting pan, add the lamb and cook over high heat, turning frequently, for
about 10 minutes until browned all over. Season with salt and pepper, add the rosemary sprigs, and sprinkle with sage and garlic. Turn the pieces over several times so that they soak up the flavor. Combine the wine and vinegar, add to the roasting pan,and cook until the liquid has almost completely evaporated. Add 2/3 cup boiling water and the potatoes, cover and roast for 30 minutes or until tender. If the gravy seems to be drying out, add a little hot water mixed with whitewine vinegar. Transfer the lamb to a warm serving dish and serve while still hot.
For an even tastier alternative, omit the potatoes, and when the lamb is nearly ready transfer 2–3 tbsp of the gravy to a small pan, add three boned and chopped salted anchovies and cook over low heat, mashing the anchovies with a wooden spoon until they have almost disintegrated.
Mix well, pour the sauce over the meat, and roast for a few minutes more
before serving. Serves 4.
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