AGNELLO CON OLIVE NERO (Tuscan lamb stew with black olives and rosemary, for six)
3 pounds lamb shoulder or boneless leg of lamb, cut into small stewing pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 or 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup black olives, pitted if you prefer
2 tablespoons tomato paste mixed with ¼ cup water
Soft polenta with bay leaves and Parmigiano-Reggiano to accompany
1. Pat the pieces of lamb dry with paper towels and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
2. In a heavy saucepan or casserole, gently sauté the garlic and rosemary in the oil over medium-low heat until the garlic is soft but not brown, about 6 minutes. Add the seasoned lamb, raise the heat to medium, and turn the lamb pieces, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until they have browned thoroughly on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add the wine, let it come to a simmer, and cook until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.
3. Stir in the olives and the dissolved tomato paste, mixing everything together, then cover the pan and continue cooking on very low heat for about 1 hour, or until the sauce is very thick and the lamb is cooked through. Check the sauce periodically and add more wine or water if it seems necessary.
adapted from Epicurious.com