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Lamb bacon also works well in risotto or
soup. “It takes on that bacon flavor and
doesn’t taste lamby at all,” DeJohn says.
Additionally, he has used lamb bacon in a
breakfast taco with gluten-free tortillas,
fresh farm eggs, avocado and salsa.
For his curing process, Rosenbluh
cuts off the lamb belly sides and rubs on
spices with salt and sugar, being careful to
coat but not pack, because lamb belly is thin.
Placing it on a sheet pan, he wraps it in plastic
wrap and leaves it in the refrigerator walk-in for two
days. He rinses it off, lays it back on a sheet pan on a bed of thyme and rosemary, tops it with another
layer of thyme and rosemary, and puts it back in the walk-in for two or three more days to dry further.
Afterward, he cuts it in half and smokes it. He cooks off only what he needs for one night’s service,
and may use it in salads or appetizers.
Rosenbluh emphasizes that because of its small size, thinness and lean composition, it only takes
two to three days to cure lamb belly compared to eight to 10 days to cure pork belly. “Don’t over-salt
or over-cure it or you’ll end up with a lamb-flavored salt lick,” he says.
Because of its more gamey flavor, he suggests serving it only in small bites and perhaps mixed in
with other items. “It’s a delicious component in our BLT salad,” he says.
In the brining, curing, smoking process, Scelfo likes to use stronger flavors such as coffee and
clove to make lamb bacon. He also likes to include brown sugar and maple flavors. When he hangs
it to dry, he recommends smoking it for an extended time. “A longer and slower smoke gives better
results. Then slice it paper-thin or shred or cube it. It adds an amazing punch to a dish,” he says.
Harrell likes to use lamb belly to make pancetta, which is not smoked. She rubs it with kosher
salt, sugar, garlic, cracked white pepper, rosemary and bay leaves, lays it in a pan and lets it sit for up
to five days. She then washes it off and tops with garlic, chopped rosemary and cracked white pepper.
She rolls and ties it up and hangs it for two weeks. For use, she slices it and adds it to salads, pasta
dishes and sandwiches.
Critchey believes lamb belly/bacon has a future as bright as lamb rack, loin and leg. “As chefs get
more creative with uses, it will become just as popular as short ribs in the future,” he says. “It’s more
flavorful than rack or leg of lamb. It has great fat content, and it’s a healthy fat.”
ameriCaN lamB BaCoN
Christopher DeJohn, CEC, AAC
Centerplate Sports Authority Field at
Mile High Stadium // Denver
YIELD: 12 SERVINGS
10 whole star anise
4 cinnamon sticks
½ cup whole fennel seeds
½ cup whole black peppercorns
¼ cup whole allspice berries
3 lbs. kosher salt
1 lb. brown sugar
1 bunch fresh thyme, rough
½ bunch fresh rosemary, rough chopped
½ oz. tinted curing mix
½ oz. hickory smoke powder (or liquid
1 lamb belly
Olive oil, as needed
1. For dry cure, in saute pan over
medium heat, combine star anise,
cinnamon, fennel, peppercorns and
allspice. Toss spices gently over heat for
about 5 minutes to draw out essential
oils. Remove from pan. Put in spice
2. In large bowl, combine salt, sugar,
thyme, rosemary and curing mix. Add
fennel mixture and hickory smoke
powder; mix well.
3. For lamb bacon, place 3x3-foot-
square cheesecloth over perforated
rack or pan set over closed hotel pan.
Sprinkle half cure on cheesecloth; top
with lamb belly, fat side down. Spread
remaining cure evenly over top of belly,
coating sides, as well. Fold cheesecloth
over top; refrigerate lamb for 48 hours.
4. Remove belly from cure mix; rinse
gently under cold running water.
Pat dry with paper towels; rewrap in
cheesecloth. Hang in cold environment
to dry until ready to use.
5. Slice 3 oz. portion lamb belly per
serving. Rub slice(s) with olive oil; grill
about 2 minutes per side. Allow cooked
bacon to rest before eating.
Note: Wrap tightly; hold up to two
weeks in refrigerator and four months