Braised Beef Belly with Tomato, Red Wine and Mustard
Beef belly is a flavorful cut that can be fatty and have a lot of connective tissue. It benefits from long, slow braising or roasting, to render much of the fat and let the meat become tender. This preparation is reminiscent of a brisket preparation. Ideally you can spread the preparation of this dish over two days or alternatively start it in the morning and finish it that same evening. It’s a good Sunday supper dish!
2 tablespoon oil
2 ¾ lbs beef belly
1 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup roasted tomatoes
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 large onion, cut into large chunks
3-4 medium carrots, trimmed, scrubbed and thickly sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled
4-5 thyme sprigs
2-3 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
Chopped, fresh parsley
Egg noodles, polenta or mashed potatoes for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Heat the oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown belly on both sides, about 8 minutes on each. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Add the wine to the pan and scrape up any bits and reduce the wine by about 1/3 of its volume.
Meanwhile, blend the tomatoes, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper into a smooth paste and coat the meat with it on all sides, using all of it. Return the meat to the dutch oven. Scatter the onion, carrots, thyme sprigs and garlic cloves over and around the meat. Add the stock. It should come close to covering the meat. Cover and bring it to simmer and then place the covered pot in the oven. Braise for about 2 1/2hours, turning the meat over once or twice, until tender.
Remove the meat from the pot and lift out the vegetables with a slotted spoon and add them to the meat and refrigerate all of it. Separately refrigerate the liquid left in the pot, covered. After 4 hours or overnight, remove the pan from the refrigerator and lift off the layer of fat that will have solidified. Discard or save and use as a cooking for other dishes.
Put the remaining and now thickened liquid in a food processor or blender with the cooked vegetables and process until smooth. Cut the meat, against the grain, into ½-inch slices and arrange them in a baking dish. You may find you need to remove some layers of fat and connective tissue that did not render out in the braising. Do so at this point and discard. Cover the meat with the sauce and heat in a 350 degree oven until bubbling. Serve hot over noodles or mashed potatoes or polenta, generously garnished with fresh parsley.