Click on the photo to enlarge, and then the back arrow to return to original size.
I just have to share this story with you…
This is not a post with a lot of pictures, but instead a story of fate and a special recipe.
Let me give you a little background so you can truly appreciate the story. Please continue to read…
When I was a little girl my mother made a lamb dish with egg and lemon sauce, that was one of my all time favorites. My mother made it every time I asked for it. If I requested that she make it “soon”, it appeared on the dinner table that night. I don’t even know the name of it.
Even when I got married my mother still made it for me. I never thought to ask for the recipe or watch how it was made because you never think that one day, Mom won’t be able to make it for you.
My mother started to have problems with dementia and was later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease so she could no longer remember how to make this dish. And being a true Italian mother of her generation, she never wrote a recipe on paper. It was all by memory.
I have no living family members that I could ask for the recipe, so I started my own search. I read cookbook after cookbook; even seeking old used Italian cookbooks from Amazon hoping for an answer. And I never found anything close to my Mom’s.
There were a few Greek lamb recipes that I found that added dill, artichokes and marjoram. There were other ethnic lamb stew recipes that I found along the way that added celery, onions, garlic, carrots and tomato paste but nothing that even came close to what my mother made.
My mother used minimal, but always the best ingredients she could find and I knew a recipe with a long list of ingredients just wouldn’t be the same.
My mother was from Naples and every time we dined in a restaurant that featured Neapolitan style cooking I would ask the owner and chef about this dish, but none have heard of it.
Bob and I took a weekend trip to Boston and visited the North End which is filled with Italian restaurants. I told Bob I felt lucky that I would find the recipe there but the more I asked, the more “no’s” I received. No one had ever heard of this dish. After searching for so long, I thought that my mother must have made this recipe up herself and it was definitely gone forever.
Recently I posted a picture of my pasta piselli with prosciutto to one of the food groups on Facebook that I belong to. I received a comment from a lovely woman named Stacey Ann that I had never spoken to before. She told me that her brother Frank made the same dish in the same set of Italian dishes (the Deruta from my blogiversary post) and we couldn’t believe the coincidence.
We started chatting and she told me that her brother had a website with a collection of Italian recipes, that was a tribute to their grandmother Angelina.
After some conversation, we exchanged blog names and I went on her brother’s site to look through some of her family recipes. It is a beautiful site and they have recipes listed by course, region and season. I was browsing the spring section and there in front of me was this recipe…
“Agnello Brodettato” translated to Lamb Stew with Egg and Lemon.
I swear my heart skipped a beat and my eyes filled up with tears. It looked exactly like the dish my mother made for me. After searching for over 20 years, the recipe was finally right in front of me. I couldn’t believe it and I must have read the title 20 times just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
I contacted Stacey Anne to tell her what happened and to thank her and her brother Frank, a million times for letting me discover this “hidden treasure” after all these years.
A funny thing happened to her with my blog as well. She told me that the first recipe she looked at on my blog was a recipe that she was searching for, Crockpot Chicken. We both found our recipes by a chance meeting on social media.
I quickly wrote down all the ingredients and went to the store.
The minute I came home I started to cook.
I am not sure how I read the recipe because I had tears in my eyes the whole time. But once the smell of this dish was in the air it took me back 50 years to when I was 10 years old and ate this dish frequently with my family. It was almost as if my Mom was with me once again.
I just couldn’t believe how blessed I was at that moment.
Here is a photo of the ingredients and then my final result.
All the years I tried to describe this dish to my husband and we were finally able to eat it together. I felt that Mom was there in the kitchen with us.
It’s funny how a food, a scent, an article of clothing can bring you back to some wonderful memories.
Frank’s site is “Memorie di Angelina – Easy Authentic Italian recipes”
Go on the site and read the wonderful recipes, maybe you will find a hidden treasure too.
It was absolutely DELICIOUS!
I guess the lesson here is to never, ever give up hope…
Here is the link to his beautiful site…
And here is the recipe…
I did tweak it a little by adding more lemon…
and I served it with crusty garlic bread to soak up the pan sauce…
- 1 kilo (2 lbs) lamb stew meat, cut into cubes
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 50g (1 oz) fatty prosciutto or pancetta, chopped
- Olive oil or lard
- White wine
- Salt and pepper
- 2 egg yolks
- Juice of one freshly squeezed lemon
- A few sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
- The recipe is simple but a bit tricky at the end. You begin with a soffritto of an onion and 50g (2 oz.) of rather fatty prosciutto (or pancetta), chopped together finely and gently sautéed in olive oil or, if you want to be truly authentic, lard.
- Then add the lightly floured cubes of lamb meat and turn up the heat a bit. Allow the meat to brown lightly—taking care not to burn the onion—and season with salt and pepper. Then add a splash of dry white wine and allow it to evaporate completely.
- Add enough water to almost cover the meat, lower the flame and cover. Let the lamb braise until tender, normally about an hour but the time will vary depending on how young your lamb is and how big your cubes of meat are.
- Shortly before the meat is done, beat two egg yolks in a bowl and mix with the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon and finely chopped parsley. When the meat is fork tender, remove from the heat. Add a spoonful of the cooking liquid to the egg and lemon mixture to temper it, then pour the mixture immediately over the lamb and stir, until well incorporated. Return to the burner over very low heat and keep stirring gently, until the egg has thickened the cooking liquid into a smooth, silky consistency.
- Serve immediately.
The trickiest part of making Lamb Stew with Egg and Lemon is the final addition of the lemon and egg mixture. If you let it cook too long or get too hot, the egg may curdle and the sauce will ‘break’, so let it just thicken to the point where the sauce will coat a spoon and remove it immediately from the heat. (NB: The residual heat from the pot will continue to cook the egg and thicken the sauce, so allow for that.) If things seem to be getting out of hand, add a few more drops of lemon juice, which should cool the sauce enough to prevent it from separating. If you are using a terracotta or enameled cast iron cooking vessel, you may well find that the pot retains enough residual heat that you need not put it back on the heat at all.
Until my next post, make every day a celebration!
Thank you for visiting my blog.
If you enjoy the posts, please spread the word and ask your family and friends to subscribe to DishingwithDiane.com.
Once you subscribe, you’ll never miss a post.
Also, continue to send me your comments, I LOVE hearing from you.
What a heartwarming story. Nothing is by chance, your angels guided you I am sure. At first I thought it was of Greek origin. Then I thought it might be a dish from Puglia in Italy, specifically the Bari region. I think this would be lovely for Easter or Palm Sunday.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Hi Barbara, Funny you should say that. My paternal side is all from Bari.
Diane this is Loretta Pasculli Lawrence from the Born Again Italian site. I just read your lovely and heartfelt story about the lamb recipe. For some reason I felt an immediate connection to you. It’s your love of family, food and tradition. However, I have been looking for that same lamb recipe that mama made for our family of 7. It was a favorite at Easter. When writing my cookbook which was dedicated to mama I had to have it in my book. I too researched it over and over, question alk Italian cooks, restaurants with not too much luck. So I started go experiment on my own. My parents were gone as were my w brothers and my sister’s did not know the recioe or remembered it as fondly as I did. I never gave up. Between my memory and many years of testing I was watching Mario Battalia on tv and he made a version of it. I now have it and published it. I cannot believe that your experience was just like mine. We must be sisters. I loved this story and it us so special to me. You are a wonderful cook and a loving person. Warmest regards,Loretta
LikeLiked by 1 person
Loretta, I can’t believe that our stories are so similar, and over the same dish. Sometimes a specific dish just stands out and reminds us so much of the loved one that prepared it. My mother always said – Food is love….I would love to see your cookbook some day. Thank you for your beautiful comments.
Diane I loved your beautiful heartwarming story. I am so happy you found your recipe.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you Linda. It took 20 years to find, but I have been blessed. I hope you and the family are well. My regards to all.
A lovely story Diane. ❤️
LikeLiked by 1 person
what a beautiful share. Love this. My mom made this at Easter too.. Was you family from Bari? Thats where she was from. Frank is a great cook and she had to be right along side of you as you made it god bless and many memories are made kept alive in our kitchen you aced this one. xo
What a lovely story, Diane!
Diane, What a wonderful story. I loved it and glad you shared it.
Diane, I finally got a chance to check this out. What a wonderful story. It doesn’t look like anything I’d like but I’m so glad for you. I think your Mom helped you find that site.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Roseanne, it was a 20 yr search. I was so happy to find this recipe. I might make it for Easter instead of the traditional leg of lamb so Michael can taste it.