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Family Secrets

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The best of the recipes, techniques, and methods practiced by our large extended Italian-American family - with emphasis on the legacy handed down to us by the original immigrants.

This is a cookbook-in-process project. If you try any of these recipes please let us know how they turn out, whether or not you had any difficulties, and any clarifying improvements you might recommend to make them foolproof. We will of course acknowledge genuine "test-kitchen" assistance.

Family Secrets #60

Braised Lamb with a Secret

By CeCe Dove, La Lama Mountain Ovens

When does a recipe become a “family secret”? All of our previous recipes have been handed down over several generations – some coming from Italy with our father, others from our mother and/or extended family. Most were passed along by word of mouth or scribbles on tablet paper. This makes them truly special.

The following recipe is “my” secret. It originated from one of the Time/Life series over 35 years ago but I have no idea which one. I copied it into my “favorites” notebook. Yes, scribbled on notebook paper! Over the years I have passed it on to my daughter who used it in a restaurant when she was a chef to star in a wine tasting dinner. I’ve passed it on to friends and family and now I will pass it on to you, our faithful readers.

I hope you will not take offense at its lack of originality, but it is too good not to share. Your house will fill with the wonderful aromas and your family and guests will thank you. They will never guess that there are anchovies in this dish because they melt away in the cooking and add an extra layer of flavor, so don’t be tempted to leave them out. Secret ingredient: Anchovies.


Braised Lamb with a Secret

Serves four.
  • 2 lbs. cubed lamb stew meat

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 tsp. dried rosemary or 1 Tblsp. fresh

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 Tblsp. flour

  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar

  • 1 cup chicken stock

  • 4 anchovy filets, rinsed, dried and finely minced

Step One: Preheat oven to 500 degrees and prepare the lamb stew meat. Using a 12” skillet add the olive oil and brown the stew meat well in batches that avoid crowding. With slotted spoon place the browned meat in a 2 qt. casserole, with lid for later. Set the sauté pan aside.

Step Two: Add ingredients – garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper and flour – to meat, and toss well.

Step Three: First cook. Place the uncovered casserole in pre-heated 500 degree oven for 10 minutes until beginning to get crusty. Remove from oven and lower oven heat to 350 degrees. 

Picture shows crusting appearance upon removal from oven.

Step Four: Deglaze sauté pan. Pour any extra oil out of sauté pan and put on stove at medium high and deglaze with vinegar, scraping up any brown bits. Add 1 cup of the chicken stock and anchovies. Bring to a simmer and stir until anchovies melt. This should take about 2 to 3 minutes.

 Step Five: Finish casserole. Pour the contents of the de-glazed sauté pan into the casserole. The meat should be partially submerged but not covered with the liquid. Add more chicken stock if necessary. Cover the casserole tightly and braise in the 350 degree pre-heated oven for 1 hour 15 minutes or until fork tender. Picture shows proper level of liquid to solids for braising – adjust as necessary to accommodate your casserole size and  shape.

Serve this dish over plain white rice which will capture the juices nicely. If you prefer, you can serve over angel hair or linguine pasta, though rice is our choice. For you anchovy haters, please do not eliminate the anchovy secret from this recipe. You have to trust us on this one! This recipe can be doubled easily.

Braised Lamb is shown on hand-made plates imported from Argentina. This is my brothers new enterprise. Plates are available on e-bay at:

Spike dish

Marleena dish

Orilla Seed Bowl

Altitude Adjustment: None needed.

©1998-2010 CDove - Attributed Copies Permitted for Small Quantity Non-Commercial Use Only.
Commercial and Quantity Reproduction Requires Written Permission
La Lama Mountain Ovens, 2055 Lama Mtn., HC81 Box 26, Questa, NM 87556, Tel: 575-586-2286

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