In search of some new ways of using lamb — we had a surplus of it this week — I found a neat recipe here. It seemed fairly straight-forward and sounded very promising, although no picture was provided. Who posts recipes without pictures these days, I wonder. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have attempted it on a regular week night as a casual dinner item, and certainly not on the night of the choir practice, but, hey, no pain — no gain.
I liked it. There were several things that I could have changed, or clarified, but I liked the idea and the stuffing, which initially appear to be too dry, but when cooked into the lamb turned out just perfect. I also would definitely change the sauce next time, it could have been a lot more interesting flavor-wise. All-in-all though, I recommend it, if you feel adventurous and want to try something different.
Quoting the recipe in its entirety, with comments where I made adjustments, as it’s definitely worth re-posting.
Stuffed Lamb Rolls From Abruzzo
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 ounces thinly sliced Double Hickory Smoked Bacon or pancetta, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 3 hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped
- 3 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated
- 8 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 6 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs, preferably homemade
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 lbs. Butterflied Leg of Lamb, trimmed of excess fat [Eat Already — I ended up using about 3 lbs of the meat, the rest went into “scrap”, which was quite generous]
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup lamb stock or water
- 1 (28 oz.) can peeled whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
- Generous pinch of Nirmala’s Wild Fire Chili Blend or crushed red pepper flakes
1. In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil and cook the bacon over medium-low heat until crisp, turning once. Lift the bacon from the pan and drain. Leave the fat in the pan. Chop the bacon very finely and set aside.
2. In a bowl, combine half the garlic, the eggs, cheese, 6 tablespoons of the parsley, the bread crumbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, abundant pepper, and the bacon. Stir the stuffing well. – [Eat Already — I found the stuffing to be quite dry and crumbly initially, but let this not discourage you, it will all work out in the end]
3. Cut the lamb into 8 equal pieces (avoid areas with lots of tough connective tissue and reserve this abundant scrap for lamb stock). Cover each piece with plastic wrap and, using a meat mallet or the bottom of a small, heavy skillet, pound the lamb into rectangles about 1/4 inch thick (see Butcher’s Note). Lay a piece of lamb, with a short side facing you, on a work surface and spread 3 heaping tablespoons of stuffing on the lamb, distributing it evenly up to 1/2 inch from the three nearest edges and 1 inch from the far edge. Lightly pat the filling into place. Carefully roll the lamb away from you into a roll. Repeat with the remaining lamb and stuffing. Tie the rolls by wrapping butcher’s twine around them 2 or 3 times and set aside. — [Eat Already — I wish there was a better instruction on how to cut the meat. I found that slicing off 1/2″ slices, preferably across the muscle work best, else you’ll be pounding that meat until the cows come home. Also, I started with a flat pounder, but ended up using no plastic and no paper, and a regular meat tenderizer, especially on those pieces I cut incorrectly]
4. Salt the lamb rolls. Heat the reserved skillet over medium-high heat and, working in batches, brown the rolls on all sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Add a little more oil to the pan if needed. Transfer to a plate and set aside. If the stuffing leaks slightly and begins to burn, scrap the skillet and remove the browned bits.
5. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until pale gold at the edges, about 8 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute more, stirring. Add the wine and simmer for 3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the skillet to loosen any browned bits. Add the stock, tomatoes, chili blend, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer. — [Eat Already — You can do step 4 and 5 simultaneously in two separate pots, this will cut down the cooking time. After you are done browning the rolls, you can deglaze the skillet and scrape the drippings into the sauce.]
6. Add the lamb rolls and any accumulated juices to the skillet and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook at a bare simmer until tender, turning the rolls and basting them every so often, about 1 1/2 hours.
7. Remove the lamb rolls and set aside. Raise the heat to high and cook the sauce at a rapid simmer until concentrated but still pourable, about 5 minutes.
8. Meanwhile, snip and remove the twine from the rolls. Divide the lamb among serving plates and smother with the sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley and serve.
Make Ahead: The lamb rolls can be assembled up to 8 hours in advance and refrigerated until ready to cook.