Italian Easter Lamb with Peas

Now I know we’re a few months away from Easter, but this is one of the dishes from Italy that I love the most. It has good an bad memories for me however. I once ate it at a restaurant in Leichhardt, Sydney which will remain nameless. I was charged $37 for the privilege. On ordering I was pre-warned by our faux Italian waitress that I would a) not be disappointed and b) should brace myself to be very very full afterwards. The very opposite was the bitter reality. The dish was bland and very mediocre and it arrived on something the akin to a tea plate. I kid you not when I say that it took me about 3 minutes to eat, the waitress grinned as she came to pick up my plate as if to say “well, can you move?!” Six years later and I’m every bit as bitter, I have however learned to make the authentic version. Packed full of flavour, it’s quite amazing to me just how much the restaurant fu**** it.

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion (roughly chopped)
1 stick celery (roughly chopped)
1 carrot (roughly chopped)
4 cloves garlic (peeled and bruised)
5 anchovy fillets
1kg lamb shoulder (cut into chunks)
10 cherry tomatoes
10 stems fresh thyme
200ml white wine
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
salt & pepper
5 small potatoes (halved)
500g frozen peas
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons parmigiano reggiano cheese (finely grated)

In a large casserole pan, heat the oil over a high heat until hot. Add the onion, celery and carrot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until soft. Add the garlic and anchovies and cook for a further 2 minutes before adding the lamb, thyme and tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes stirring once, then add the wine and vinegar and cook for another 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes until the liquid has almost gone. Add the potatoes and peas and 250ml water and season generously with salt & pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid or foil. Simmer gently for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and simmer for a further 15-30 minutes until the lamb is tender and the sauce rich and thick. Stir in the butter and cheese at the end just before serving.

Serve as a stew alongside lots of crusty bread.

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