Lamb chip chop (Agnello ’ncip ’nciape)
3½ pounds boneless lamb shoulder or leg
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ cup extra- virgin olive oil
7 plump garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (peperoncino flakes)
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, more for garnish
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons red- wine vinegar
1½ cups green Italian olives (picholine are my very favorite) or oil-cured black Italian olives, crushed and pitted
Recommend using a large Dutch oven or deep skillet or braising pan, with a lid.
The quality of the meat makes the difference, though it may be hard to find nice lamb shoulder or leg meat cut for stew. I bought a 5 lb. lamb leg boneless roast from Costco to trim and cube. A good butcher would kindly trim the fat and cube a whole lamb roast for you.
Meat prep: Cut the meat into 2 inch cubes, removing fat and bits of cartilage as you find them. Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the salt and toss the meat to distribute.
Heat the pan with olive oil on medium. Scatter in the crushed garlic cloves and red pepper flakes. When the garlic is just sizzling, place all of the lamb pieces in one layer, place the rosemary sprigs on top, and season with the remaining teaspoon salt. No need to stir yet. When the meat starts to sizzle, cover the pan. Lower the heat just a little, medium-low to cook gently, and browning slowly releasing the fat and juices.
After about 10 minutes, uncover the pan, turn the pieces, and move them around the pan to cook evenly, then replace the cover. Turn again in 10 minutes or so, and continue covered cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the lamb is nicely browned all over and the pan juices have thickened and caramelized. If there is a lot of fat in the bottom of the pan, tilt the skillet and spoon off the fat from one side.
Stir the wine and vinegar together, and pour them into skillet, swirling them with the pan juices. Turn up the heat, bring the liquids to a boil, and cook them down quickly to form a syrupy sauce. Drop the olives into the pan, all around the lamb chunks, then cover and adjust the heat to a bubbling simmer. Cook for another 10 minutes or so, again concentrating the juices and marrying the flavors. Finally, cook uncovered for a few minutes, tumbling the meat and olives in the pan, coating them with the sauce.
Serve right from the skillet, or mound the meat chunks on a platter or in a shallow serving bowl. Spoon out any sauce and olives left in the pan, and drizzle over the lamb. Suggestion to serve with rice or potatoes and roasted carrots & shallots.