Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday roast - abbacchio al forno

click images to enlarge and salivate

There is a remarkable meat which is a specialty in the Rome region in winter and spring.

We eat a lot of sheep in Australia. The Italian for lamb is agnello. Abbacchio is something else and very rarely found in Australia, accessed there only by some Italian chefs: it is the lamb equivalent of milk veal.

To have this for sale requires a sheep (pecore) dairy industry, such as is strong around Rome and this region, with the popularity of sheep's cheese (e.g. pecorino) in particular.

In dairy regions of Australia one can, at certain times of the year (depending on local dairy calving times) get baby boy dairy calves, as very small veal - milk veal, never fed on grass - the boys having no future in milk supply and a pure dairy calf having no prospect of producing profitable meat cuts.

In Australia a boy sheep is likely to become a castrato, known as a wether, and grow to be larger eating lamb or to carry wool. Here there is magically tender abbacchio, milk-fed lamb. For two weeks after we arrived I did not see it in the butcher's shop. Then yesterday I asked and yes they had some, they hastened to get it from the cold room. They had just two portions: a shoulder (spalla) and a leg (coscio). The middle section of the side had been sold. At Euri 13.50/kg the whole shoulder cost just E 13.20, a shoulder weighing less than a kilo.

Abbacchio is best roasted in an open wood oven, as for pizza, but we did it in the conventional electric oven, with potatoes, rosemary, garlic and olive oil (abbacchio arrosto con patate al rosemarino) and ate it with a zucchini, onion, capsicum and tomato (and of course olive oil) stir fry. The whole spalla provided just two good portions for lunch, two small portions for lunch tomorrow. As antipasto we had, of course, cold carciofi romani (see yesterday's blog).

And later, we will have, with coffee, babà [baba au rum] and Bavarese (Bavarian cream, bavaroise). And Helen will have a Sambuca, how nice for her... :-)

When Helen went out for walk just now I (knee needing a bit of a rest after missing gutter in Florence and after walking this morning) I went with her as far as the Bar Roma and its Pasticceria, a good 40 metres from our door, where I bought the dessert items for a total of E 2.20.

And carried them home. And I will not touch them till Helen has come back and we have watched a movie.

Who knows when I will write up this morning's driving and walking to Bomarzo and Mugnano.


Pronunciation = Pronuncia! = pro noon chuh

agnello = arn yellow
abbacchio = ar buck yoh
spalla = spull uh
coscio = cosh yoh
antipasto (before-food) = aunty pussed oh
carciofi = car choff ee
pasticceria = puh steech eh ree yuh
babà = buh BAH
Bavarese = buh vuh ray say
Bomarzo = Boh mart zoh
Mugnano = Moon yarn oh

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