Even those who claim they don't especially like lamb will no doubt love these little bundles first created in Abruzzo, Italy. They are filled with a flavorful stuffing and smothered in a white wine and tomato sauce for a hearty, satisfying dish. The lamb rolls can be assembled up to 8 hours in advance and refrigerated until ready to cook.
A typical butterflied leg of lamb weighs between 6 and 7 pounds. The ingredients in this recipe can be increased by 50% to use a whole leg and serve 6 to 8 adults. Alternatively, any unused lamb is great for cutting into cubes for kabobs or strips for stir fry. When we flatten boned meat cutlets or chicken breasts, we put them between two pieces of wax paper, plastic wrap, or in a plastic bag on a work surface. (We prefer a butcher's block, of course, but you may not have one in your home kitchen! A countertop is fine.) Use the bottom of a heavy frying pan, the flat side of a meat mallet or cleaver, or a rolling pin to flatten the meat. Begin with very light taps and increase the pressure just slightly as the meat thins out. Never pound too forcefully or you will break down the connective tissues and the meat will lose some of its texture. Gently pound the meat to form a shape that resembles a rectangle, or as close as you can. If there are holes in the rectangles, patch them with pounded scraps that are a little larger than the tear. Pound these into place.
Tomato sauces often cause trouble for fairly full-bodied red wines that are short on good levels of acidity, and so when it turns out that the soft and warmly flavored Montepulciano d'Abruzzo reds take so well to it, you wonder why. But beneath the generous and dark-fruited surface of these wines, there's a firmness, a kind of "silent" acidity that gives them the backbone to handle pesky tomato sauces and much more. A favorite in our tasting comes from one of the region's best producers of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Cataldi Madonna, but any number of these widely available wines would be excellent. For a Montepulciano with an unusual provenance, look for Bonny Doon Vineyards' Il Circo: Montepulciano "Il Domatore di Leoni"—Italian grapes in a Santa Cruz, California, cloak.