Roast Baby Lamb with Wild Fennel
Very young baby lamb (about two weeks old, with a dressed weight of about 8 lbs.) is widely available in Italy. Lamb this size (occasionally called hothouse lamb) is sometimes sold in this country in Italian and Greek butcher shops, but older baby lamb, weighing 15-20 lbs. dressed, is more common. If you are able to find a 7-8-lb. lamb, roast it as in recipe below, but decrease final cooking time to 2-2 1/2 hours.
- 1 (7-8-lbs.) baby lamb (from 1 side of a 15-lb. dressed baby lamb), cut into thirds
- 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more form drizzling
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 large handfuls wild or cultivated fennel fronds
- Preheat oven to 425°. Line a large roasting pan with parchment paper. Put cut up lamb into pan. Rub all over with 6 tbsp. of the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Tuck 2 handfuls of the fennel fronds between pieces of lamb and scatter remaining handful over lamb.
- Drizzle a little more olive oil on top of lamb and fennel, then roast until lamb just begins to brown, 35-40 minutes. Cover lamb with more parchment paper and lay a metal spoon on top of paper to hold it down. Reduce oven temperature to 275° and roast until meat is fork tender, 3-3 1⁄2 hours more. Set aside for 15-20 minutes before serving.