Stufato di Agnello alla Marchigiana

Slow-Cooked Lamb Cubes, Marches Style, With Tomatoes and White Wine

There is much good lamb raised on the sea-facing slopes of the region where this recipe originates, the Marches on the central Adriatic. The lamb cubes should be cut with some bones in. They are cooked with garlic, rosemary, and white wine, the last possibly the Marches’ own Verdicchio. The long, slow cooking makes the meat very tender and loosens it from the bones that, by that time, will have contributed their valuable portion of flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 pounds lamb shoulder, bone in, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried leaves, chopped
  • Salt
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • ½ cup Verdicchio or other dry white wine
  • 1 cup canned Italian peeled plum tomatoes, with their juice

Method

  1. Put the oil in a medium-size sauté pan and turn on the heat to high. When the oil is very hot, put in as many pieces of lamb as will fit without crowding. Brown the meat well on all sides, transfer it with a slotted spoon or spatula to a platter, and put in more pieces. Proceed in this manner until all the meat has been browned and removed from the pan.
  2. Turn down the heat to medium and put in the garlic. When the garlic becomes colored a pale gold, add the rosemary. Stir once or twice, then return the meat to the pan. Turn the lamb pieces over 2 or 3 times and season with salt and several grindings of pepper. Turn them over again and add the wine. When the wine has bubbled away for a minute or two, add the tomatoes. Stir the meat and tomatoes, cover the pan, and turn down the heat to low.
  3. Cook for about 1½ hours, stirring from time to time. When the lamb feels tender when pricked with a fork, it is done. It should be cooked through and through and come easily off the bone. There should be no runny liquid left in the pan, but only dense, lovely, dark cooking juices. Should you find that the juices are still too thin and liquid, transfer the meat to a warm platter, raise the heat to high, and reduce the sauce while scraping loose any cooking residues from the bottom of the pan. Pour immediately over the lamb and serve at once. Just before serving, I like to remove any of the bones that come away easily.

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