Abbacchio alla Romana

Roman Roast Lamb


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

The unexpected ingredients of salty anchovies and sour vinegar cut the sweetness of lamb to perfection in this springtime Roman speciality. With a hint of garlic and rosemary, it’s the most delicious way to serve tender young lamb.


  • 1 kg/2 ¼ lb very young, tender lamb on the bone
  • 50 ml/2 fl oz/¼ cup olive oil
  • a knob/pat of butter
  • 1 lamb’s kidney, cubed
  • 250 ml/8 fl oz/1 cup water
  • 350 ml/12 fl oz/1 ½ cups dry white wine or water
  • 2 x 6 cm/2 ½ in rosemary sprigs
  • 2 large preserved, salted anchovies, or 5 canned anchovy fillets in oil, drained
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 60-75 ml/4-5 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
  • steamed broccoli, to serve (optional)


  1. Wipe the meat carefully all over in case any bone shards remain, then cut into rough chunks about 7.5cm/3in square.
  2. Set a wide, deep frying pan with a heavy base over a low heat. Add the oil and butter, and heat together for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the kidney and meat chunks to the hot fat, browning them thoroughly all over. Season generously with salt and pepper, add the water, then lower the heat.

  4. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes, occasionally adding a little water or wine and turning the meat from time to time.
  5. Pound the leaves from the rosemary sprigs with the anchovies and garlic using a mortar and pestle. Stir in the vinegar and pour this mixture all over the meat. Stir well.

  6. Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve immediately, with a green vegetable such as broccoli, if you like.