Roast Milk-Fed Baby Lamb

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

The famous Roman abbacchio, milk-fed baby lamb not older than six weeks, is almost as tender as butter when it is cooked. The best way to prepare this delicious meat is to do as little as possible to interfere with its natural flavor. The lamb needs no marinating, and no sauce save the pan juices. Have a butcher prepare the lamb for roasting. Be sure he cracks the joints so you can arrange the lamb on the rack on a roasting pan. Enough fat should remain on the lamb to keep it moist while it cooks.


Cooking Methodroasting


Total Timehalf-day

OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationdiabetic, egg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, low carb, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Five Ingredients or LessYes


Taste and Texturegarlicky, herby, meaty, savory


  • ½ milk-fed baby lamb (15 to 20 pounds)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, cut into slivers
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary, or 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • sea salt to taste


  1. Remove the lamb from the refrigerator 1 hour before roasting. Preheat the oven to 400°F. With a small, sharp knife, make numerous small incisions on both sides of the lamb: in between the ribs, on the shoulder and legs, and between the joints. Slip garlic slivers into the cuts. Rub in the olive oil, rosemary, and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Place the meat on a rack in a large roasting pan. Slide the pan onto the middle rack of the oven. Immediately lower the heat to 350°F. For “pink” lamb, roast 12 minutes per pound. After 30 minutes, remove the lamb from the oven and close the oven door (to keep the oven temperature constant). Baste the lamb with its own juices and return it to the oven. Repeat every 20 minutes.

  2. Remove the lamb from the oven when the internal temperature of the thickest part of the meat reaches 130 F, and the surface is nicely browned, sprinkle with salt, and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Carve the meat and serve on a warmed platter with the degreased pan juices.


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