Lamb and Beef Belly
Almost two years ago, we predicted that goat might be the next pork belly, and while goat meat may not have taken the world by storm, the days of pork belly hogging all the glory may be numbered. That’s if the champions of lamb and beef belly have their way. Former New York Times critic Frank Bruni called out pork belly as boring and played a few years ago, saying chefs should move to other belly cuts. It seems like chefs have taken on the challenge. Aaron Burgau at Patois made a Kobe beef belly into a crispy, decadent meat crouton, and there was Tyler Williams’s Wagyu Beef Belly, Sarsaparilla, and Kohlrabi at Abbatoir, a fun play on corned beef. Lamb has gotten some love in 2012, too. Chef Adam Sappington teased us with his discussion of house-cured lamb belly during his session at last year’s International Association of Culinary Professionals conference. Daikaya's Katsuya Fukushima requested lamb belly for his Eat@ICC Pop-up, and Chef Happy Hatab of Philly's White Dog Cafe made us a killer lamb belly dish with spiced yogurt, lentil salad, and merguez. Although price tags have climbed somewhat over the past few years, lamb and beef belly are still fairly cheap—the cuts typically retail for $2 a pound, a bit less than pork belly, which has spiked in price since 2010. Lamb and beef belly are not likely to overtake pork belly, but for chefs looking to cut costs and boost their appeal with harder-to-find cuts, the two are primed to be more popular.