Foda à Moda de Monção

Consider the old-school terracotta roaster an optional flourish for this lavish Portuguese lamb roast.

  • Serves

    serves 12

  • Cook

    1 day 55 minutes

By Joana Santiago

Published on May 8, 2022

Foda à moda de Monção is a traditional dish from Portugal’s Vinho Verde region. This recipe, adapted from one shared with us by local winemaker Joana Santiago, was originally cooked in a wood-fired oven, then finished and served in a terra cotta “torto” roaster. The oblong pot is conveniently shaped in such a way that the leg rests directly over the rice, allowing heat to circulate all around it while still letting its flavorful juices drip into the saffron-scented rice below. (These inexpensive and attractive roasters are available online from Portugalia Marketplace.) 

For those of us restricted to modern stoves, our recipe testers also found that starting the meat in a Dutch oven, then finishing it on a wire rack positioned over a roasting pan got them pretty darned close to the classic, wood-fired version. For wine, Santiago suggests forgoing the expected reds and instead serving this fragrant and celebratory meat dish with a full-bodied and lightly oaked white alvarinho, such as her own Quinta de Santiago “SOU.”


  • ¼ cups plus 1 Tbsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1 medium lemon, halved
  • 1 7–8 lb. leg of lamb
  • 1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cups red wine vinegar
  • 1 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tbsp. lard or canola oil
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cups pork or chicken broth
  • ½ cups alvarinho or other dry white wine
  • ¼ tsp. saffron
  • 2½ cups carolino rice (or substitute bomba or arborio)
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 6 strips (4 oz.) bacon


Step 1

24 hours before you plan to roast the lamb, make the brine: In a large bowl, plastic container, or nonreactive baking dish, whisk together ¼ cup salt, a squeezed half a lemon, and 8 cups of warm water until the salt is dissolved. Set side to cool to room temperature. When the brine is cool to the touch, add the lamb (the meat should be just about completely submerged in the liquid; if it is not, transfer to a smaller container so that it is). Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 and up to 24 hours, turning the leg over halfway through to ensure that any parts of the meat that are not covered by the brine are submerged.

Step 2

Make the marinade: To a blender, add the onion, vinegar, lard, garlic, black pepper, and the remaining salt and blend until smooth.

Step 3

Remove the lamb from the brine and transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Pat the meat dry with paper towels, then pour the onion mixture all over the leg, turning a few times to coat the lamb in the marinade. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge to marinate for at least 12 and up to 24 hours.

Step 4

Preheat the oven (with one of its racks positioned in the center) to 325ºF.

Step 5

Retrieve the lamb from the fridge, then transfer it to a large Dutch oven and cover with a lid. Transfer to the oven and cook until the lamb is tender and starting to fall off the bone, 3–3½ hours. Remove and turn the oven up to 350ºF.

Step 6

To a medium pot set over medium-high heat, add the broth and wine and bring just up to simmer, then remove from the heat, stir in the saffron, set aside to steep.

Step 7

In a large, terracotta torto or other large roasting pan, stir together the rice, the saffron broth and ¼ cup of the cooking juices from the lamb. Position a wire roasting rack or several long metal skewers over the top of the pan, then carefully transfer the lamb to rest atop the rack or skewers, positioned directly over but not in direct contact with the liquid below. Lay the bacon strips over the top of the meat, then transfer the entire dish to the oven. Roast until the rice is fully cooked and has absorbed all of its liquid and the lamb is golden and crispy all over, 40–50 minutes.

Step 8

Transfer the lamb to a large platter and carve into large, shaggy chunks. Serve with the saffron rice on the side.

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