The Italian Deli Cookbook by Theo Randall

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1 Apr 2021 |

Roasted lamb rump with polenta and creamy olive & anchovy sauce


 Roast lamb article

At a wine tasting at a vineyard in Tuscany with David Gleave from Liberty wines, and Rose Gray, the wine maker was very keen on Rose and sat next to her. During dinner, she got very excited about the first course – olive dolci (sweet olives). Freshly picked, then cooked very slowly in the front of the wood oven, they were amazingly simple, but so, so good – crispy on the outside, but soft and sweet in the middle, like little pieces of slow-cooked meat. Heating up olives softens them and, in the process, releases their amazing and intense flavour. This sauce is lovely with most things, but really good with polenta and greens.


Serves 4 


For the lamb

pared zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon

4 x 180g (6¼oz) lamb rumps

1 rosemary sprig, leaves picked and roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, quartered

3 tbsp olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground

black pepper


For the soft polenta

250g (9oz) coarse polenta (not quick cook)

3 tbsp good olive oil

1 tsp sea salt


For the olive and anchovy sauce

1 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, finely sliced

4 salted anchovies in oil, drained and chopped

1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

100g (3½oz) Taggiasca or niçoise olives, pitted and chopped

100ml (3½fl oz) crème fraîche or double (heavy) cream


For the purple sprouting broccoli

600g (1lb 5oz) purple-sprouting broccoli, trimmed

3 tbsp olive oil

1 garlic clove, finely sliced



Marinate the lamb rumps. Place the pared lemon zest and juice in a bowl. Add the lamb, rosemary and garlic, then cover and leave at room temperature for 1 hour, turning the rumps in the marinade a few times during the hour. Then, add the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.


Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas Mark 4.


Make the polenta. Pour 1 litre (35fl oz) of water into a saucepan. Place over a high heat and, when the water comes to the boil, very gradually whisk in the polenta. Once you have added all the polenta, reduce the heat and cook for 30 minutes, until it no longer sticks to the side of the pan. Add the olive oil and salt and leave to one side to keep warm.


Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat a saucepan over a medium heat and add the olive oil, garlic, anchovies and parsley. Cook gently for 2 minutes, then add the olives, cook for 1 minute, then add the cream. Bring to a simmer and turn off the heat. Leave to one side to keep warm.


For the broccoli, bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Add the broccoli, including any leaves, and bring back to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and drain, keeping the hot pan. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the sliced garlic to the pan and cook over a medium heat for 1 minute. Add the broccoli, and cook for 10 minutes, until broken up slightly. Check the seasoning and add a tablespoon of water and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Stir to coat and leave to one side to keep warm.


Cook the lamb. Pat off the marinade residue from the lamb using kitchen paper. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat. Seal the lamb rumps, turning to brown on all sides (this should take 4 minutes).


Place the lamb rumps fat-sides downwards in the pan then roast in the oven for 8 minutes. With a meat thermometer, check that the middle of the lamb is 45°C / 110°F for a lovely pink piece of meat, then remove from the oven. Turn them over a couple of times and leave in the pan to rest.


To serve, spoon the polenta onto a serving dish then top with broccoli. Against the grain, slice each lamb rump in to 3 slices and place on top of the broccoli and polenta. Pour over the sauce and serve immediately.

Italian deli cover

The Italian Deli Cookbook is available to purchase now from your local bookshop, or online from Amazon or Waterstones.