Lamb Stew from Basilicata
“Happiness is the noblest, and most pleasant thing in the world.” – Aristotle, 384 – 322 BC
Aristotle wrote that happiness is the ‘conscious state of satisfaction‘ and ‘an activity in accordance with virtue‘. You do not need riches or false gains to be happy, just the need to satisfy your will to do good. And Zio Rosina and Zio Vincenzo did just that. Salt of the earth, they lived a simple, happy life. Zio Vincenzo was a survivor of a Russian POW camp and is now 100 years old, celebrated by being made a knight. Zia Rosina was the life and soul of the party. Late summer, we would go down to their farm with my cousins and spend time harvesting the produce. A huge table would be set up and we would ‘eat, drink and be merry‘ into the evening. Happiness in deed.
This recipe of Pignata di Pecora is a lamb stew specific to the region of Basilicata and satisfies the soul.
1kg (2lb 3oz) lamb, shoulder or leg, cut into small pieces * 1 clove of garlic, chopped * 3 tbsp of olive oil * 140g (5oz) salami or sopressata, chopped * 2 small onions, finely chopped * 395g (14oz) can chopped tomatoes * 395g (14oz) potatoes, peeled and diced * 1 stick of celery, finely chopped * salt and freshly ground black pepper * 55g (2oz) freshly grated pecorino cheese * 375ml (12 floz) water
Heat the oil in a heavy base, casserole dish and sauté together the garlic and lamb for about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the salami to the lamb, together with all the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and pour in the water.
Cover the casserole dish with foil and then put the lid over the top to create a tight seal. Braise the lamb with vegetables over a medium heat for about 1½ hours . Shake the casserole dish every now and again until the lamb and potatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened. Sprinkle with freshly grated pecorino cheese and serve hot.
I have collated all my favourite recipes into one book FOOD FOR ALL OCCASIONS.
This recipe comes from the section THE ITALIAN JOB, a selection of authentic Italian recipes.