Chef's Recipes

Guy Grossi's abbacchio alla Romana

This is Guy Grossi's version of the classic roast lamb. Serve it up with some polenta or pepperonata.

By Guy Grossi
  • 20 mins preparation
  • 1 hr 15 mins cooking
  • Serves 8 - 10
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Guy Grossi's abbacchio alla Romana
Guy Grossi, whose restaurants number Merchant and Ombra, as well as the historic Grossi Florentino, is the Melbourne-born son of a Milanese chef. This is one of his father's recipes. "I remember him cooking it when we were children," says Grossi. "When we cooked together later in life I always tried to replicate those flavours in my own attempts of the dish. I like to think my version is good but never like Dad's. The lamb is roasted well and juicy with lots of olive oil and white wine. It was a popular item on the menu a few years ago; I'd serve it with pepperonata or polenta. It brings me back to those never-ending festive afternoons, so you may see it appear on the menu from time to time." Grossi uses a whole Flinders Island suckling lamb for this recipe, which can be ordered from good butchers. We've substituted leg and rack for a mix of textures and the savour that the bones contribute to the finished dish.


  • 1 lamb rack (6 bones), cutlets separated
  • 2 kg boneless lamb leg, cut into 5cm pieces (about ½)
  • 6 ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 onions, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp coarsely chopped sage
  • 1 tbsp coarsely chopped rosemary
  • 6 garlic cloves, quartered
  • 1 long red chilli, coarsely chopped
  • 300 ml chicken stock or water
  • 100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 200 ml dry white wine
  • 150 gm finely grated parmesan
  • 200 gm coarse crustless sourdough breadcrumbs
Soft polenta
  • 280 gm fine polenta, preferably traditional Italian stoneground (see note) (2 cups)
  • 50 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • Finely grated parmesan (optional), to taste


  • 1
    Preheat oven to 190C. Place lamb in a large deep roasting tray, scatter with tomato, onion, herbs, garlic and chilli, and season to taste. Add stock, olive oil and wine, then massage mixture into meat. Combine cheese and breadcrumbs in a bowl, and scatter onto lamb; it soaks up the liquid during roasting and forms a nice crust. Bake until lamb is tender and crust is golden (50 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes).
  • 2
    Meanwhile, for polenta, bring 2 litres water to the boil in a saucepan, add 1 tsp salt and, whisking continuously, add polenta in a steady stream, reduce heat to low and stir continuously with a wooden spoon for 4-5 minutes, then simmer, stirring occasionally, over very low heat until thick and smooth (18-20 minutes). Add extra-virgin olive oil and season to taste with black pepper and parmesan. Spoon polenta onto plates, top with lamb and pan juices and serve.


Traditional Italian stoneground polenta is available from
Drink Suggestion: A carafe of Cesanese, the medium-bodied red from the hills around Rome. Drink suggestion by Max Allen