LAMB BELLY IN RED SAUCE WITH ZUCCHINI
It is not only Easter or Christmas when goats, lambs or pigs were slaughtered, it also happened for weddings, baptisms, and when sons were leaving to do national service in the army. It was prepared for all the people in the village who had gathered to bid the young man farewell, as if he were going to a foreign country. Ten or fifteen animals were sometimes slaughtered, depending on how extensive the boy’s family was!
Sheep belly in particular requires knowledge, art and patience to prepare. The housewives boiled them in water and then "lemonized" them with plenty of lemons to make them white. My grandmother was so patient sitting on a low stool for hours, cleaning off the goat which had been slaughtered by her grandfather. "Joy for her patience!" said my mother, who took care to set up the pan to quickly fry an appetizer for a glass of wine or raki.
On friendly tablecloths, the well-cooked and well-groomed belly was an indication of the household’s stature. And if it was made perfectly, the husband would boast about his wife’s prowess in the kitchen!
Now of course things have been simplified. The belly is sold ready cleaned in the butchers and all the cook has to do is give it a good wash.
At this is the time of year, when there is plenty of fresh zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes and so on, I chose a recipe with lamb belly.
Let's go try it!
500g of lamb belly
2 large ripe tomatoes (grated)
1 dried onion
1 clove of garlic
50ml red wine
50ml olive oil
½ teaspoon of grape syrup or 1/2 teaspoon of honey or sugar
4-5 laurel leaves
½ teaspoon cumin
Salt & pepper
The lamb belly we buy from the butcher is usually cleaned and washed. However, you must make sure that this has been done well. First, cut the meat into pieces with a scissors or a sharp knife. Rinse very well with plenty of water. Scrape with two lemons to whiten and leave for about an hour. (I personally put lemon zest on it too as I think it gives better taste and aroma.)
In a saucepan, sauté the onion in the olive oil and add the belly pieces. Allow to thicken slightly then add the garlic and a glass of water and boil for a while.
Then add the grated tomatoes, the grape syrup (or honey / sugar), the wine and the spices. Add some more water if needed. Allow to cook for about 45 minutes on medium temperature.
Finally, add the zucchini and potatoes and salt a little. (The potatoes can be omitted. When families wanted to serve food as a main meal, they added potatoes to the dish to satisfy everyone.) Allow to cook for a quarter of an hour more. Season with fresh pepper and allow the food to settle before serving.