Agnello al Calderotto
Region: Italy, Apulia
Difficulty: Easy but long cooking time
There are many varieties of chicory and several are very popular in Apulia. Belgian endive, escarole, and radicchio all belong to this family. This greenery-laden dish is from the province of Taranto in southern Italy in the region of Apulia. A calderotto is an earthenware cauldron used for cooking stews. The amount of chicory called for in the recipe seems excessive, but it’s not. The finished dish is very tender: flavorful lamb surrounded by the almost melted taste of chicory, which loses a lot of its bitterness in the cooking. If you can’t find chicory, substitute escarole.
Yield: Makes 6 servings
Preparation Time: 2:30 hours
1. Put the lamb, onion, parsley, tomato, wine, saffron, and olive oil in an earthenware casserole with a cover or in an enameled cast iron casserole. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 1 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally and check to see that the liquid is not evaporating too fast. If it is, add a few tablespoons water each time you stir.
2. Add the water and the chicory, a handful at a time, stirring continuously. Let the chicory wilt so more handfuls can be added. Reduce the heat to low and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the stew is unctuous, about 1 hour more, uncovering the last half hour if the stew is very liquidy. Serve immediately.
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]