The Abbacchio Romano PGI refers to fresh meat obtained from male and female suckling lambs belonging to the following breeds: Sarda, Comisana, Sopravissana, Massese and Merinizzata Italiana and relative crossbreeds. The animals must be born, reared and slaughtered— when they are between 28 and 40 days old — in the Lazio region.
The production area of Abbacchio Romano PGI is within the entire territory of the Lazio region.
The animals are reared using free-range and semi-intensive systems. They must be fed with their mothers’ milk (suckled) and supplementary grazing is permitted. The mother ewes are grazed on natural pastures, meadows and grasses typical of the production area. They can be fed dried fodder and concentrates but not synthetic or genetically modified products. The lambs and ewes must not be subjected to forced feeding, environmental stress or hormonal treatment designed to boost production. During the summer period, the flocks are transferred to the highlands to escape the summer heat. This practice allows the ewes to feed on fresh fodder, maintaining the quality of their milk and consequently that of Abbacchio Romano PGI. The suckling lambs are slaughtered at between 28 and 40 days old, within 24 hours of being transferred to the slaughter house. At the moment of slaughtering, the dead weight of the carcass can be anything up to 8 kg.
Appearance and Flavour
Abbacchio Romano PGI is light pink in colour and has a firm consistency. The fat is solid and white. The meat has a fine texture and the carcass has a light fat covering on the exterior and around the kidneys; it has a delicate flavour. On slaughtering, the carcass must have a maximum weight of 8 kg.
There are numerous historical references demonstrating the strong link between abbacchio and the regional rural areas, some of which date back centuries, showing the importance that sheep rearing has always had, and still has, for the economy and tradition of the entire Lazio region. The ancient Romans preferred kid meat, but for Roman poet Giovenale young lambs were: “The most tender of the herd, fed only on grass, with more milk in their veins than blood”. At Campo Vaccino (name given to the area of the Roman Forum) there was a market for suckling lambs, lambs, castrates and sheep from the IV century A.C. onwards. The term abbacchio (suckling lamb) is univocal in the Lazio region. Even the series of slaughtering operations carried out on the suckling lambs are referred to with the Roman terminology sbacchiatura or abbacchiatura.
Abbacchio Romano PGI can be kept in the fridge for several days. It is widely used in Lazio regional cooking, so much so, that it gives life to about one hundred different dishes. Suckling lamb is particularly suitable for oven roasting with the traditional ramoracce, a spontaneous local herb with an exceptional flavour. One of the most typical recipes is the famous Abbacchio alla Romana, which uses the leg of the lamb, seasoned with garlic, fresh rosemary, sage, white wine and white wine vinegar, and is served with potatoes.
The product is marketed as Abbacchio Romano PGI. It is a seasonal product and can be found from September to June, in the following typologies: Mezzena (obtained through the sagittal sectioning of the carcass in symmetrical parts), Shoulder, Leg, Chops, Head and Pluck (heart, lungs and liver). The product is also available pre-packed in suitable containers.
The meat of Abbacchio Romano PGI is characterised by the scarce presence of fat, both external and internal.