Spezzato di Agnello coi Fagioli

Lamb Stew With White Kidney Beans

There are dishes in which the ingredients, when brought together, transcend the familiar extent of their single ability to please and generate flavor so powerfully thrilling that before it all reflective appraisal gives way, surrendering the palate to abandoned delectation. In this dish it happens with lamb, beans, and garlic.

There are several stages to the cooking. First the lamb is browned. Then it is cooked with a soffritto—a sautéed flavor base—of onion, olive oil, and sage. After it cooks some more with white wine, the meat is transferred to the oven. Drained canned cannellini beans are added after 1½ hours’ stewing. When the lamb and beans have cooked together a while longer and are ready to serve, chopped garlic and parsley are mixed in. This last potent fillip completes the stirring character of the dish.


  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds lamb shoulder, bone in, cut into about 3-inch pieces
  • cup flour, spread on a plate
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • cups onion sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage leaves, crumbled, or 6 or 7 small fresh leaves, torn by hand into small pieces
  • Salt
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup Homemade Meat Broth, or 1 bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup water
  • Two 19-ounce cans cannellini
  • 2 teaspoons garlic chopped fine
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley


  1. Pour enough vegetable oil into a skillet to cover the bottom completely and turn on the heat to medium high.
  2. When the oil is hot, dredge the lamb pieces, one by one, in the flour and slip them into the pan. Fill, but do not crowd, the pan. Brown the meat well on all sides, then transfer it to a plate, using a slotted spoon or spatula. As you remove a piece from the pan, replace it with one freshly dredged in flour, continuing thus until all the lamb has been browned.
  3. Turn on the oven to 350°.
  4. Choose a lidded pot that can later accommodate all the meat and beans. (If you have one that can go from the burner to the oven and subsequently to the table it would be most convenient.) Put in the olive oil, sliced onion, and sage and turn on the heat to medium. Cook the onion, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until it becomes colored a light brown.
  5. Add the meat, turning it 2 or 3 times. When the meat begins to sizzle, add salt, several grindings of pepper, and the wine.
  6. Dissolve the tomato paste in the meat broth. When the wine in the pot has boiled away, add the broth, mix well, cover the pot, and place it in the uppermost level of the preheated oven. Cook for 1½ hours, turning the meat once every 30 minutes.
  7. Drain the beans and add them to the pot. Cook for another 15 minutes.
  8. Before serving, mix in the chopped garlic and parsley. Serve piping hot.