Lamb, the prince of meats for all the peasant kitchens of central Italy, is the meat of feasting, from its origin to a thousand dishes, it is also excellent as tartar (raw). But today it is time to consumption stuffed with chicory.
In Lazio it is the most important dish in all the mountain villages, especially those that border with neighbouring Abruzzo. In fact for millennia the flocks have crossed the paths of migratory herding to reach the fresh high altitude pastures in summer and back to the warm pastures near the sea in winter.
These paths and these migrations have been repeated for so long that Italy has nominated this migratory herding to UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Lamb leg stuffed with chicory is a well known alternative with potatoes that always remains a prince of a dish.
Preparation of the recipe for lamb and chicory
The first step all should know. Go to a real butcher and select a nice leg of lamb.
I go to the Via Trionfale market and my butcher also tells me the name of the shepherd who herded the flock. He also tells me what kind of grass the lambs have eaten and I must say that, after a while, I can perceive the difference between the different pastures.
If they are nearby, I ask for lamb of Roiate, the neighbouring village of Subiaco where there is the oldest Sagra dell’Abbacchio del Lazio (Festival of Roast Lamb). Roiate looks like a crib perched on the mountain and for centuries the whole population has depended on sheep farming.
Meanwhile I go to buy the chicory from the shop near the butcher and even here I learn everything about the vegetables that is offered to me.
Now, all the characters of the Via Trionfale Market are becoming stars with my stories and I demand even better!
Bone the leg and open it to form a sheet. If you are not very familiar with the knives, give this part of the preparation to the butcher, who takes away the fun part of the work.
Make a cooking base with the bones and put it aside, we will use it at the end. Meanwhile, clean the chicory, blanch and sauté in a pan with garlic, oil and chilli.
On the sheet of meat we put the fully cooked chicory and roll it up tying it with kitchen twine.
The leg is then cooked in a cocotte (casserole) or in the pan together with the essential rosemary and garlic. Cook it for about twenty minutes, sprinkling it with a little white wine and the base sauce we had prepared.
Serve it in slices, perhaps laid on a slice of brulee Genzano bread. The bread of Genzano is so famous that it has now become a traditional product of Lazio.
And since Lazio is the source and champion of this dish, we drink a cabernet from Atina, a Lazio DOC, fruit of a study by a great winemaker at the end of the 19th century.