This is a traditional Easter-time dish from the town of Venosa, in the Basilicata region of southern Italy. Though "brodetto" means "broth," it's nothing like soup, although the final dish should not be too dry. It's much closer to a frittata: a stewed lamb and vegetable dish covered with beaten eggs mixed with pecorino cheese and baked till set.
Traditionally it is made with wild cardoons, a vegetable that is not easy to find in the U.S., so I've substituted it here with asparagus, another springtime vegetable that pairs well with rich lamb. Cardoons (or at least, mature cardoons) somewhat resemble oversized stalks of celery but have a flavor much closer to that of artichokes. Wild cardoons are much smaller and thinner and look more like thin asparagus. So, to substitute them in flavor, you could use artichoke hearts as the vegetable. The choice is yours! If you are lucky enough to have access to wild asparagus (they are very small and thin and look a bit like green stalks of wheat), then that would also work wonderfully in this dish.
This frittata would be a great addition to your Easter table -- it incorporates both lamb and egg, traditional Italian Easter ingredients symbolizing renewal and rebirth, and is incredibly quick and easy to make! It's a great make-ahead dish as well since it can be served at room temperature.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 dozen large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds boned leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 pound peeled plum tomatoes (fresh or canned -- drained if using canned)
- 2 pounds thin asparagus, wild asparagus, or artichoke hearts (if using thicker asparagus, you should blanch it briefly before using it in the recipe)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix the eggs, cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the lamb and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is browned and about half cooked about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes and vegetable and continue to cook for another minute.
- Transfer the lamb and vegetable mixture to a baking pan (you can also use a large cast-iron skillet) large enough to hold it (and the eggs), and pour the egg mixture evenly over the top.
- Shake the pan a bit to distribute the eggs evenly through all the nooks and crannies, then bake just until set, about 10 minutes.
- Serve hot or at room temperature.