How should I cook Lamb Belly?
Made it for the first time last night and was pleasantly surprised. I bought it from EcoFriendly Foods from the Arlington, VA farmer's market. It came rolled into a cylinder and tied it with string, kind of like German rouladen (though not stuffed with anything). Here's what I did:
1) Marinated it in yogurt for a few hours (I always do this with Lamb, it's a Turkish thing my mom taught me)
2) Rinsed it, put it in a cocotte/dutch oven with about 1/2 inch of water, 2 cloves garlic, a bay leaf, and some dried rosemary
3) Braised it, covered, for 3 hours at 300 degrees (my Staub cocotte has beads on the lid, so it drips evenly as it bakes, naturally basting the meat)
4) Took it out of the liquid, put it on a rack in a roasting pan, generously salted it, added pepper and roasted it at 400 degrees (plus convection) for 30-40 minutes until the outside was brown and crispy
5) Let it rest for 10 min, then sliced it into pinwheels and served (the crispy exterior helped the pinwheels hold their shape)
6) Made some rice to go alongside, using the flavorful braising liquid (including the fat)
The nice crispy, salty outside was a perfect compliment to the tender, flaky meat on the inside. There was also a bit of soft fat inside, which I just scraped away - still plenty of flaky meat. The rosemary flavor came through beautifully.
I was a little skeptical at first, since pork belly is not my thing - it's just too soft/fatty for my taste (if I'm going to eat fat, I either want it crispy, or melted and mixed into something). The thick layer of fat on the outside of the roll worried me. Even after the braising it was still very thick. But I think that heavily salting it after the braising is key...the salt drew out so much moisture from the fat during roasting that it ended up much thinner and completely crispy.
You could make lamb bacon. I had this at Troquet restaurant in Boston once (they cured it themselves) and it was one of the most delicious things I've ever put in my mouth!
Funny anecdote: I was in London last summer and had the chance to dine with a legendary Chowhound, one of the original crew who's been on many a chow trip with site founder Jim Leff. The first thing he asked me when he heard I was from Boston was, "Have you had the lamb bacon at Troquet?"
Braise it in red wine, lamb or beef stock, garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper, butter (lots :), Morrocain black olives, onion, vinegar, sugar.
If you use beer, use apple cider as well, honey, fresh thyme, garlic and maple syrup.
Love Lamb! :)
Happy eating, Oana
You trim most of the lamb fat off so that it becomes nice and crispy. The butter adds a nice sweetness that compliments the lambs game. None whatsoever :). I will look into it though as it is interesting.
Thanks havham and let us know how it goes okay?
If you have pictures, even better :).
Happy roasting, Oana