To me, blood oranges, mint and feta cry out for a piece of lamb—and I happened to have a rolled belly in my freezer. Defrosted, unrolled, stuffed and re-tied, it was then braised in the oven in a bath of blood orange juice, beef stock and white wine, until it filled the house with its glorious perfume. As it was crisping in very high heat, I defatted the sauce, reduced it and finished it with a little mustard and a teensy knob of butter. The citrus-based sauce, zest and mint help cut through all the richness. Try this with a side of polenta and a crisp, endive salad. —gluttonforlife
Test Kitchen Notes
This recipe will go into the recipe file for many years of use. I had my doubts at first about the sauce but they were quickly washed away by the first taste. The honey adds lots of flavor, as does the mustard, and they all blend nicely with the feta, mint and blood orange. I had to do only one thing differently: the ribs I had were very fatty so I only got a small piece of flank, probably a half pound. That was OK. I was the only one up this morning and got to eat all of it for breakfast. I am a big believer in head to tail cooking so for me the lamb belly is a great addition to the repertoire. I did garnish with extra feta, mint and zest just because it is so good. I could also see butterflying a lamb loin lengthwise for a shorter cooking time. - thirschfeld —The Editors
Combine the mint, orange zest and crumbled feta in a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and mix together well to form a paste. Lay the lamb belly flat, fat side down, and smear the feta paste evenly over the entire surface, avoiding the very edges. Starting from the short edge, roll the belly up and tie every inch or so with butcher’s string.
Combine the minced garlic, salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil and rub all over the surface of the lamb belly. Place the roast into a Le Creuset or similar Dutch oven, fattier side up, and pour the blood orange juice, white wine and beef stock in. Cover tightly with a lid, or layers of foil, and bake for 2 hours. A knife should slip easily through the meat when it’s done.
Remove the lamb belly from the pot and place in a shallow pan. Increase the oven to 450 degrees and return the lamb to the oven until it’s brown and crispy, about 15 minutes.
In the meantime, pour the sauce into a smaller vessel and skim the fat. Return to a saucepan and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down slightly. Stir in the honey and mustard and keep at a strong simmer to reduce by about half. Whisk in the butter, and season to taste with fresh pepper.