/What Became of Your Lamb, Clarice?

What Became of Your Lamb, Clarice?


My love of Rome’s quinto quarto (offal) is no secret. I often joke that it was archaeology that brought me to Rome, but the organ meats that kept me here. Hilarious, right? Well, it is kind of true. I am especially fond of lamb innards and coratella (lungs, heart, and liver) is a favorite dish. I asked my butcher Daniele if I could film a segment at his shop in the Testaccio Market while he butchered a lamb and removed the coratella. He was gracious enough to oblige and I attended the big event this morning.

He began by hanging a 12 pound lamb on hooks by it’s Achilles tendons. He then decapitated the animal, splitting its skull to remove the brain, a rather violent series of events that took nearly 45 seconds and 2 different knives to complete. Nevertheless, the brain escaped perfectly intact, and practically begged to be deep fried. I mentioned to him that I adore animelle (sweet breads) and he sliced out these glands from the throat and beside the heart with surgeon-like precision. Next came the coratella harvest. He split open the lamb’s chest, pulled apart the ribcage, and sliced out the lungs, heart, and liver. These organs are connected to one another by tissue and he pulled out the whole mass and laid it beside the skull and brains.

Still reading? This is the best part: Coratella is a classic Roman dish historically cooked at Easter when the spring lambs would be slaughtered. The meat would be grilled (think abbacchio scottadito) and the organs would be sauteed with artichokes. These days, the once seasonal offal and produce are available year-round. Lambs are raised 12 months a year and artichokes are imported to Rome from Sicily, Sardegna, and France. For the real deal, you are going to need to wait until spring for the true carciofi romaneschi (Roman globe artichokes) and spring lambs to be in season. Then and only then does coratella reach its full potential.

To make coratella, or any of the other traditions of Rome’s quinto quarto, just drop by Sartor and order the goods from Daniele. Sartor is open Monday to Saturday from 8am-1pm.

2016-01-07T14:37:31+00:00 November 16th, 2009|Categories: Gastronomic Traditions, Meat, Offal, Rome & Lazio|8 Comments


  1. sara November 16, 2009 at 9:18 pm - Reply

    New to this blog and have liked everything I’ve read so far, but after this post you are my hero.

    • Katie November 16, 2009 at 9:25 pm - Reply

      i’m glad the post was appreciated! there is plenty more offal where that came from. tomorrow im off to palermo for some pane ca’ meusa. stay tuned.

  2. shayma November 17, 2009 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Katie, I think you may have to pay us a visit in Pakistan during Eid al’baqr- there are goat and lamb’s heads everywhere, with streams of blood where the animal was ‘sacrificed.’ and we eat all the offal 🙂

  3. Tom November 17, 2009 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    I’m sitting here wondering what someone from PETA would do if they stumbled across this page! lol 😉

    Great post Katie–it’s good to know there are still uncompromising, non-apologizing meat lovers out there…and I am one of them!

  4. Katie November 18, 2009 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    @shayma that constitutes an offical invite correct? booking tickets now…

    @tom well that depends if you are speaking of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or People who Eat Tasty Animals.

  5. shayma November 19, 2009 at 5:33 am - Reply

    absolutely an invite. you are always welcome in our homes- my family’s in Lahore and Z’s family’s in Karachi. x

  6. Katie November 19, 2009 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    yes! i am dying to eat in pakistan and Eid al’baqr sounds like it is right up my alley

  7. Olive Harvest In Umbria December 2, 2009 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    […] was a month of firsts: first meat donut, first lamb evisceration, first Setteveli, and first olive harvest. Last weekend, I visited my friend Madi Gandolfo in […]

Leave A Comment

You are currently not connected to the internet