Abbacchio, or suckling lamb, has been a Roman springtime delicacy since ancient times, and today this dish is often served for Easter celebrations. The lamb is seasoned with a garlicky paste that includes anchovies – these lend a salty, savoury kick and are the modern replacement for garum, a fermented fish sauce widely used in Ancient Roman cuisine. We’ve used a leg of lamb here in place of suckling lamb.
- 1 x 2.5 kg lamb leg, bone in
- ¼ cup rosemary leaves
- ¼ cup sage leaves
- 8 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 4 anchovies in oil, drained
- 60 ml (¼ cup) red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra, to drizzle
- 250 ml (1 cup) dry white wine
- roast potato wedges, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time overnight
Drink match 2012 Coriole Sangiovese, McLaren Vale, SA ($25)
Using a sharp knife, make deep cuts widthwise along lamb leg at 3 cm intervals, cutting through almost to the bone. Set aside.
Combine herbs, garlic and 1 teaspoon of salt in a mortar and pestle and grind to a fine paste. Add anchovies, grind to a paste then stir through vinegar and oil. Place lamb in a large container or bowl. Rub paste over lamb, massaging into incisions, then cover and refrigerate overnight to marinate.
Preheat oven to 220°C. Remove lamb from refrigerator 1 hour before cooking. Place lamb in a deep roasting pan, pour in wine, drizzle with extra oil and season with pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 180°C and roast for 1 hour for medium or until cooked to your liking. Set aside to rest, loosely covered with aluminium foil, for 20 minutes. Slice lamb and serve with potatoes.
Photography by Brett Stevens. Food preparation Phoebe Wood. Styling Kristen Wilson.
As seen in Feast magazine, July 2014, Issue 33.