This recipe is a labor of love, but the result is not to be missed. Crispy, succulent lamb belly is paired with olive oil-poached potatoes, caramelized butternut squash and lemony goat yogurt. Roll up your sleeves and make this delicious special-occasion dish, straight from the kitchen of Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca.
1 5-pound lamb belly, breastbone removed and rib bones trimmed to 2 inches.
1 yellow onion, cut in half and sliced into ¼-inch thick slices
1 quart chicken stock
Extra-virgin olive oil, about 3 cups total
1 bunch fresh mint, three sprigs reserved
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 lemons, zested and juiced
1 small butternut squash
1 cup goat-milk yogurt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pound marble Yukon potatoes
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 pinch chili flakes
Aged balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
Salt and pepper
Prepare the lamb belly
Place fresh mint (less the three reserved sprigs) and the zest from one of the lemons in a food processor. Blend the mint and lemon zest, slowly drizzling in ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil until it becomes a paste.
Rub the paste on both sides of the lamb belly. Wrap belly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day, remove from the refrigerator and wipe excess paste away with a paper towel.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season lamb belly with salt and pepper and place in hot dutch oven with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Sear on both sides until golden brown. Remove belly to a tray and add sliced onions to the dutch oven. Stir, using the onions to remove any color left behind by the belly. When the onions are soft, about 5 minutes, return the belly to the pot and add chicken stock until covered. If not enough to cover, add water until the belly is submerged. Place lid on the dutch oven and braise in hot oven for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, carefully remove the pot. Using tongs, transfer the belly to a dish and place in the refrigerator. Cool the belly until it is firm to the touch, about 4 hours or overnight.
Once lamb belly is prepped, you’re ready to cook the other components of the dish.
Prepare the Lemon Yogurt
In a mixing bowl, add goat yogurt, sugar, the zest from the remaining lemon, and the juice of both lemons. Whisk until smooth.
Prepare the Poached Potatoes
Place potatoes in a medium-sized pot and submerge in olive oil (you’ll need about 2 cups). Add rosemary sprigs and turn heat on low. Poach potatoes in oil at a low simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Once tender, transfer the potatoes to a bowl using a slotted spoon and allow to cool. When cool, slice potatoes in half. (If you wish to hold potatoes for a later use, leave them whole and they will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator, submerged in the cooking oil.)
Prepare the Squash
Drizzle 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil into a pan over medium heat. Add squash cubes, working in batches if necessary so as not to overcrowd the pan. Each serving requires about 4 to 6 cubes, so you may not need to cook them all, depending on the size of your squash. Season with salt and pepper and brown the cubes on each side. When the cubes are browned, add the honey and chili flakes. Toss the cubes in the honey for about a minute, then add potatoes, cut sides down. Once the potatoes have browned, add the red wine vinegar and toss. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a bowl, toss raw julienned squash with the leaves from the three reserved mint sprigs, 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
Assemble the Dish:
Remove remaining rib bones from lamb belly and slice belly into 1-inch strips, then season with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil into hot cast iron skillet and cook until each side (all four!) is golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.
Assemble the dish by first spooning about ¼ cup lemon yogurt onto each plate and gently spreading it out to cover about a 3-inch circle.
Place the squash and potatoes on top of the yogurt, then place 2 to 3 pieces of seared lamb belly over the the squash and potatoes. Top with a little of the raw squash and mint salad, then drizzle with aged balsamic and extra-virgin olive oil.
Serve at once.
Recipe courtesy of Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca