Abbacchio alla Romana, or Roman-Style Lamb, is characteristically simplistic as are all Italian recipes. Technically, Abbacchio is a baby lamb, slaughtered at 5 or 6 weeks producing tender meat high in fat content. Here, we will cook the lamb shoulder Sous Vide to tenderize the meat. The traditional ingredients include anchovies (you won’t taste the fish, but you will notice the added flavor) and rosemary. We will be including imported Italian Puntarelle, which is a chicory that is currently in peak season. Lastly, we will serve the Lamb over coarse polenta.
A little more on the Puntarelle (Chicory), which is not widely available in the U.S. This is a staple in the Roman kitchen through winter and early spring. It looks like celery with really messy hair…the outside stalks are very bitter and need to be blanched in salted water or braised. Once the outer stalks are removed, an inner core that looks similar to a celery heart is revealed. This is then cut lengthwise and placed in an ice water bath for an hour to curl. At that point, the Puntarelle could simply be drizzled with an anchovy-based dressing and served as the classic Roman salad, Puntarelle Alla Romana (the Italians know how to cook…not so creative in their naming). Or, simply added to a braise in what we are doing here.