Agnello Ripieno di Riso

Lamb Stuffed with Rice

Another Passover dish, this Sephardic recipe was originally made with a boned lamb shoulder into which a pocket was cut. Leg of lamb is much easier to bone, stuff, and roll, however, and is kosher, as long as the sciatic nerve is removed. The filling resembles a traditional dolma stuffing and would be delicious spooned into tomatoes, eggplant, or zucchini for an inexpensive meal.

Ingredients

  • 1⅓ cups white rice
  • Leg of lamb, about 5 pounds, boned, butterflied, and well-trimmed of nerves and sinews
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus oil for browning
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • ¾ pound ground lamb
  • 2 to 3 cups meat broth or water, or as needed

Method

Place the rice in a bowl and add water to cover. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, lay the lamb leg flat. Cut away any excess fat and tendons. Using a meat pounder, flatten the lamb to a relatively uniform thickness. Season with salt, pepper, and half of the cinnamon.

Warm the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the ground lamb and cook, stirring often, until the meat loses its redness, about 5 minutes. Transfer the lamb and onions to a bowl. Drain the rice and add to the bowl; stir to combine. Season with salt, pepper, and the remaining ½ teaspoon cinnamon.

Pat the rice mixture onto the flattened lamb leg in an even layer. Roll up the lamb and tie in several places with kitchen string.

Heat enough olive oil to form a film in a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the meat and brown well on all sides. Transfer to a heavy pot, add broth or water to cover, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the lamb is tender, about 1½ hours.

Transfer the lamb to a cutting board and snip the strings. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, reduce the pan juices to 1 cup over high heat, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Cut the lamb into slices ⅓ to ½ inch thick and arrange on a warmed platter, stuffing back in any rice filling that falls out. Spoon the pan juices over the meat and serve immediately.