The recipe of the month inspired from a Lega painting: lamb this time

Lamb alla Lega (photo Monica Marquez)

Agnello alla Lega (Lamb with golden raisins, saffron, and juniper berries)

Another Studio Italia recipe. A lamb without tomatoes. Delicious and different as we do not often see lamb cooked in light-coloured sauces. Accompany with a Gewurztraminer; it may be from the Alto Adige, but a French one would be better . Bon appétit!

For: 6 people       Preparation time: 15 minutes        Cooking time: 2 hours


  • One pinch of saffron steeped in ½ cup of water for 30 minutes.
  • 6 lamb shanks
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (or the necessary)
  • 2 cups white wine (preferably Gewurztraminer)
  • 2 twigs of rosemary (finely chopped)
  • 12 leaves of sage (finely chopped)
  • 4 rounded tsp juniper berries
  • 8 tbsp golden raisins
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
Silvestro Lega, Woman Embroidering Portrait of Carlotta Rivalta, 1885 Private collection Montecatini

La Maniera

  1. Strain the mixture of water and saffron and put aside. Do not steep the saffron in water for more than 30 minutes to avoid the resulting bitter flavour.
  2. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper.
  3. In a large skillet, add the olive oil and heat.
  4. Add the lamb shanks and brown them over high heat until browned all over.
  5. When ready, transfer the lamb shanks to an oven proof saucepan with lid.
  6. Deglaze the skillet with the wine to dissolve the remaining meat juices and transfer the contents to the saucepan.
  7. Add the strained water with saffron.
  8. Add the rosemary and the sage.
  9. Cover and braise in a preheated oven at 325°F for 2 hours or until tender.  Half through the cooking time, turn over the shanks and add the juniper berries, the golden raisins and the pine nuts.
  10. When ready, remove from the oven.  Place the meat on a warm serving dish and pour the sauce on top.

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