The foothills of Abruzzi, a ruggedly handsome and mountainous region that marks the southern limit of what mapmakers designate as central Italy, are home to shepherds and their flocks. Lambs are raised for meat and their mothers are milked to produce pecorino cheese. The recipe for roast leg of lamb given here combines both products of this sheep-tending culture.
Roasting a whole leg does not happen every day or even every month, but it can replace the customary stewed or fricasseed shoulder and loins on a holiday, or when celebrating a happy private event; a communion, a wedding, the birth of a child. I have seen it done in a wood-fired pizza oven, a departure from the usual over-the-stove method; but aside from that, the flavor foundation is that of nearly every Italian roast, garlic and rosemary. A delicious accessory to the dish is the potatoes, which are diced small and cooked along with the meat, each little nugget becoming engorged with the rich flavor of this roast.
© 1997 Marcella Hazan estate. All rights reserved.