Crispy Braised Lamb Belly with Polenta

Cook Time 4-5 hours
Yield 6-8
RECIPE Ingredients
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh mint
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Lamb Belly, Bone-In
  • 1 large onion, halved and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 2 containers Veal Demi-Glace
  • 2½ cups water
  • Chopped parsley, for serving
  • Creamy polenta, for serving
Recipe notes
Have you ever cooked lamb belly? This hard-to-find cut includes ribs and a section of belly and is best when braised. Think of tender lamb spare ribs with an extra meaty slab of belly attached. You can cut the tapered end off and cook it separately, or season and braise the whole belly. To serve, slice between the rib bones, and section the other end into boneless ribs. In this recipe lamb belly is rubbed with fresh herbs before being braised until tender, and then crisped. While super easy to make, it does take some time, although it's worth the effort.
RECIPE Preparation
  1. To the bowl of a food processor add rosemary leaves, thyme, mint, lemon juice and zest, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon of salt, and several grindings of pepper; pulse until finely chopped. With the machine running, add about 3 tablespoons olive oil.
  2. Cut the lamb belly into 2 pieces, slicing carefully in between the 2 center ribs. Rub the lamb belly pieces with the mixture then place in a non-reactive container and cover. Marinate for at least 2 hours, up to overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  4. In a large Dutch oven, heat about 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Brown each piece of lamb until deeply golden on both sides and set aside on a rimmed plate.
  5. Lower heat to medium; pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of fat then add onion. Sauté until translucent, about 6 minutes, then add garlic and continue to cook about 3 minutes more. Stir in demi-glace and water, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
  6. Add lamb belly to the pot, along with any accumulated juices. Cover and place in the oven. Cook until the meat is very tender and gently pulls away from the bones, about 3-4 hours.
  7. Carefully remove the lamb belly pieces from the cooking liquid and place on a tray. Using tongs, carefully wiggle out the bones and any cartilage and discard. Pour cooking liquid into a non-reactive container. When lamb and liquid are cool, cover with plastic wrap and chill both overnight.
  8. When ready to cook, remove the lamb and cooking liquid from the refrigerator. Cut the lamb into 8 portions, set aside. Remove the layer of solidified fat from the top of the cooking liquid and discard. Pour the liquid into a saucepan and heat over medium-high flame, stirring occasionally. Cook until liquid is reduced by half and has thickened. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper, if needed. Keep warm.
  9. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high flame. Working in batches as to not crowd the pan, sear the lamb belly pieces, turning often, until they’re deeply golden and crispy on each side and heated through.
  10. Serve with creamy polenta, parsley, and a generous spoon of sauce.