Homeric Leg of Lamb with Blood Orange Glaze, Fregola, Feta and Mint

March  3, 2010
1 Ratings
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

Right okay, Odysseus returns to Ithaca after finishing shopping for the stuff that Penelope asked him to pick up on the way back from the Trojan wars. He arrives home in time to run a spear through Ted Allen and Scott “I hate raw onions” Conant. “Oh Penny, I’m home.” “Ody did you pick up the fregola in Sardegna?” “Yes, dear and I grabbed some blood oranges and olives in Sicily. Has little Telemachus finished his homework?” “Yes, he’s upstairs playing with his Izeus whatever that is. OH! And is this for me? Mint from the hills of Corsica. How sweet of you.”
Yuck, yuck, yuck. This is a recipe that I adapted from an old standby for leg of lamb which I use often. Good challenge in that I was able to tweak a bunch of ingredients and still have it turn out well. You are not going to find Greek lamb in America anytime soon, but I’d advise you to avoid the siren song of the stuff that is raised in the antipodes (Australia and New Zealand) if at all possible; it’s not that good but it’s what is flooding the market (and COSTCO). There is a better domestic product from Colorado (which I used), but very fine lamb is coming from Iceland as well.

Test Kitchen Notes

Pierino thinks up great names for recipes, and when I read the word “Homeric” here I was hooked. Besides the name, the lamb turned out well AND was easy to make. The butcher did the honors with the boning and the roast went into the oven within 30 minutes. No blood oranges, alas, but I had farmer’s market feta, Sicilian olives, and Sicilian wine. The wine does taste very Homeric, rough and spicy, and brings the phrase “wine dark sea” to mind persistently. Lamb and salt go so well together -- the olives and feta were a brilliant coupling, pierino! - luvcookbooks —Food52

What You'll Need
  • 2 ½ pound boneless leg of lamb. It’s pretty easy to bone out yourself if you are so inclined and you can put the bone to other uses but otherwise ask you butcher
  • 7 or 8 blood oranges (tarocchi)
  • 1/4 cup red wine, preferably Sicilian
  • 1/2 cup Sicilian olives (big fat ones, I used a combination of black and red)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese divided (that would be two ¼ cups if I have my math right)
  • 1 cup fregola grassa (sardegnan couscous)
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 bunch mint, the freshest you can find
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Sea salt (of course)
  • Ground black pepper to your taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  1. Pit the olives and chop them roughly, this will be for the filling
  2. Open up the lamb and with a very sharp knife cross hatch the meat without going through to the skin. Season with salt and pepper. Add the olives and a portion of the feta and spread over the interior surface
  3. Cut a single length of kitchen string, long enough to tie up the whole piece of lamb in a jelly roll form (you know how to do this right? Be sure to keep your seams straight)
  4. Cut the garlic into slivers. With a sharp knife put some small slits into the lamb. Lard with the garlic slivers.
  5. Season generously with more sea salt Heat your oven to 350? to 375? (you decide)
  6. Peel and thinly slice the red onion. Oil a roasting pan and cover the bottom of the pan with the onion slices
  7. Juice all but two of the blood oranges. You will need about ½ cup of squeezed juice. In a small sauce pan combine the orange juice and the wine and heat up slowly. You will want to keep this warm on a burner (maybe over a flame tamer) for the duration
  8. Baste the lamb with the warm juice and wine mixture---I assure you will be fragrant. Place the lamb in the oven. Allow about 1 to 1 ½ hours cooking time. Baste every twenty minutes. Check the lamb temperature with an instant read thermometer. When it hits 140? remove the pan and tent with aluminum foil. Let this rest for ten minutes. Personally I don’t like lamb “well done.”
  9. While the lamb is roasting/resting prepare the couscous to package directions. Chop up a big old handful of fresh mint. Throw some of that on top of the lamb while it’s still tented. Peel the remaining two oranges and cut them into segments (supremes).
  10. To plate, carve the lamb, spoon out couscous and top that with crumbled feta and more chopped mint. Garnish with blood orange segments.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Meatballs&Milkshakes
  • pierino
  • Lizthechef
  • gluttonforlife
  • AntoniaJames
Standup commis flâneur, and food historian. Pierino's background is in Italian and Spanish cooking but of late he's focused on frozen desserts. He is now finishing his cookbook, MALAVIDA! Can it get worse? Yes, it can. Visit the Malavida Brass Knuckle cooking page at Facebook and your posts are welcome there.

9 Reviews

Meatballs&Milkshakes October 6, 2011
This sounds fantastic and I love fregola! Definitely going to have to try it!
pierino March 23, 2010
Just for fun I resubmitted this one. None of us knows what the theme will be from week to week. So repetition is, I suppose, inevetible.
Lizthechef March 11, 2010
Just saw your recipe and appreciate the remarks about New Zealand lamb. Married to someone who loves lamb, we have been disappointed the past 18 months or so in Costco lamb - which used to be tasty. A butcher told me that the animals are so domesticated that the game taste has disappeared. I now patronize a local butcher and pay more but the stuff is good. I will ask where it originates. Thanks -
gluttonforlife March 5, 2010
Nicely done!
AntoniaJames March 3, 2010
Ah! A modern day Padraic Colum. (For those of you parents of kids aged four or older, consider reading aloud Colum's "The Children's Homer," "Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy," and "The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles." Very few pictures, but Colum's clear but elegant writing style makes them unnecessary. I read all three at least twice, cover to cover, because my sons liked them so much. It's among the best children's literature ever written.)
pierino March 3, 2010
This recipe is not for children.

But then I grew up with the original text of Pinocchio. Not the Disney version. Collodi makes the fox and cat some pretty bad actors, and the cricket gets killed.

That said, Homer is pretty cool. I love the names like "Apollo Shoot a Far".
drbabs March 3, 2010
Nice play. Sounds great.
Hadyourtea? March 3, 2010
This sounds amazing, the blood orange glaze sounds sublime
pierino March 3, 2010
To be honest I was concerned about how the blood orange juice would hold up against the wine in the reduction, but it held it's fragrance the entire time and the sugars came out like street walkers.