Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cooking Italy - Arrosticini Abruzzesi

Arrosticini Abruzzesi.....sounds really sophisticated and elegant and difficult, huh??

I know. I'm equally impressed. With me.

I would love to just wax poetic about what a difficult and time consuming recipe this was and therefore what a great and accomplished cook I am....but this was reeeeaaaally easy.

In simple English, it really just Skewered Marinated Lamb Tidbits and it took all of about five minutes to throw together the marinade and five minutes on the grill (had to soak in the marinade for two hours at room temp) and you've got yourself some delicious lamb.

I've been told that lamb is an acquired taste. Not so much for me. I've always just loved it. Leg of lamb, rack of lamb, lamb them all. Such a great earthy taste. However, lamb shoulder was not something I've tried before. I'd always been told to steer clear because it was tough. That was not the case here. These came out tender, juicy and with just enough fat to keep them full of flavor.

I will definitely make these again, probably serving them as a simple appetizer for dinner guests. I'd love some suggestions for a great dip to accompany them. Anyone?

This recipe is my first as part of the "Cooking Italy" group I told you about a few days ago. I think I'm really going to like this group.

Here's the recipe:

Arrosticini Abruzzi
Skewered Marinated Lamb Tidbits
4 servings

In Abruzzi, as in the other central Italian regions...Umbria, Latium, and Tuscany, the shepherd and his lambs are equally a feature of the landscape and of the gastronomic tradition. The recipe that follows is borrowed from the shepherds' own outdoor cooking, when they camp out with their flocks. Although it can be done indoors in a home broiler, it would be wonderful over the hot embers of a wood fire.


1/2 pound boned lamb shoulder
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
1/2 tsp dried marjoram or 1 tsp fresh chopped (I used dried)
10 or 12 small skewers (I used four large ones)

Slice the meat into strips about 1/2 inch wide and 2 inches long. Do not trim away the fat, but try to have lean meat attached to some fat in as many pieces as possible. The fat will melt partly in the cooking, feeding the fire, and baste and sweeten the meat.

Mash the garlic with a heavy knife handle, crushing it enough to split it and loosen the peel, which you will remove and discard.

Put the meat in a bowl, (I used a zip lock bag) adding the oil, salt, several grindings of pepper, marjoram, and garlic. Toss well, thoroughly coating the meat. Let the lamb marinate at room temperature for 2 hours, or in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours. Turn the lamb pieces from time to time. If refrigerated, take the meat out at least 30 minutes before cooking.

Preheat the broiler or light the coals or, even better, prepare a wood fire. (I used the gas grill!)

Turn the meat thoroughly one more time, then skewer it, piercing each strip in at least two places.

When the broiler or fire is hot, or the wood is reduced to hot embers, place the skewers as close as possible to the source of heat. If barbecuing, use very hot coals, Cook for 3 minutes on one side, then turn the skewers and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on the other. A small, fine crust should form on all sides of the meat. Serve at once.

I served this with a great California Cab, but next time I'm pulling something from Tuscany out of the cellar.....probably a Brunello.

Fabulous and easy. Try these.


  1. Well, this is a very nice recommendation for this recipe. I have been dragging my feet on this one as lamb is not always appreciated around here. Maybe I will get brave and try the lamb after all...I had talked myself into doing it with beef. Yours looks nicely grilled and delicious.

  2. Those look great. I used to enjoy lamb only when my mother cooked it when I used to eat meat. My hubby is Lebanese, you'd think he'd crave the meat, but he doesn't like it.
    As for serving it on a stick - it's the time of year for that. With the State Fairs going on, isn't it time for "food on a stick"? In fact, on the news today some lady is going to sample every offering of food on a stick at one of the fairs. 1400 cals later and a lighter wallet, wonder what her thoughts might be?!

  3. Great post Jill. Love the wine recommendation.

  4. Just beautiful! We're having this for dinner tonight, I'm pretty excited.

  5. I don't cook much lamb but that sounds delicious and easy!

  6. Simply, the best thing i have ever read/seing in my whole life!!!!!! ñ_ñ

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  7. Please take this off your web site where in the world did you learn how to make arrosticini???? when you don't know something don't write about it you are putting shame to the Abruzzo region....