Beautifully marbled beef belly is a supreme cut of meat ideal for a range of culinary applications. Whether used as an alternative to standard pork bacon, slow-roasted, barbecued or brined and cooked pastrami-style, delectable beef belly is an exclusive cut to be savored.
Not to be confused with beef plate which includes ribs taken from the lower chest of the cow, beef belly refers only to the beef navel cut which is boneless and well-marbled with fat. Beef belly can lead to a wealth of culinary opportunities from corned beef to succulent pastrami.
For those who aren’t aware, beef belly also makes delicious beef bacon, perfect for anyone with a pork allergy or who can’t eat pork for religious reasons.
Where to Buy Beef Belly (Beef Navel)
You’ll find it a challenge to come across beef belly or beef navel in either grocery stores or butcher shops as beef navel is often ground into hamburgers. You may be able to find well-marbled short rib or beef brisket, but to source this rarer cut, you’ll likely need to turn to an online specialty retailer.
This additional step is well worth it, however, and many of these specialty butchers offer higher quality cuts of meat that are sustainably raised, free range, grass-fed and antibiotic and hormone-free.
It’s important to note, an animal’s diet and living conditions really do affect the taste of the meat. Healthier cattle and better diets lead to better meats. No matter whether you grill it, smoke it or BBQ this cut, you’ll taste the difference in quality.
At this point, the best place to get beef belly is from an Porter Road, a high quality online butcher shop. Everything they have is dry aged to perfection, and they carry many of the more obscure cuts for nose to tail eating. Namely, slabs of beef belly and beef cheek, my favorites.
Beef Belly Recipes
Beef belly, sometimes also referred to as beef navel, boneless navel or pastrami navel, is a remarkable cut of meat that presents a variety of options for cooking. It may be sliced into beef bacon, brined and cooked for pastrami or roasted and smoked for delectable burnt ends.
This meaty treasure is a flavorful and fatty cut of the cow. The fat content lends this cut a rich and savory taste which can be enhanced by a range of cooking techniques like marinating, smoking or roasting. The fat content adds moisture and tender juiciness to multiple cuisines from protein-rich salads to versatile main courses.
If you’re looking for something simple, it’s wonderfully chopped into tiny bites, salted and pan fried.
Beef Belly Salad and Soup Recipes
Decadent beef belly makes a delightful addition to soups and salads of all types. The soft tissue and rich flavor of beef belly renders it a delicious topping for Chinese beef noodle soup or a spicy beef belly bean sprout soup. You can substitute beef belly for brisket in Vietnamese brisket pho, vegetable beef soup or a slow-cooked brisket soup of potatoes, veggies and pasta.
Similarly, swap hard-to-find belly meat for brisket in a shredded beef salad or use beef belly to craft burnt ends for topping salads like a spicy starter of leaf lettuce, red onion and Korean salad dressing. If you make beef bacon from your beef belly, crisp it up for topping a wedge salad of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, pecan halves and blue cheese dressing.
For other ideas, sample a panzanella salad, winter salad with endive and beef bacon, or a roasted potato picnic salad embellished with chunks of beef bacon. You can even reverse the salad, stuffing Caesar salad inside crispy beef bacon bites for a surprising dish.
- Gochujang Beef Burnt Ends And Korean Salad
- Beef Bacon Black and Blue Wedge Salad
- Beef Bacon Panzanella Salad
- Winter Salad with Endive & Bacon
- Wagyu Beef Bacon and Roasted Potato Picnic Salad
- Beef Bacon Wrapped Caesar Salad Bites
Beef Belly Breakfast Recipes
For delicious breakfast ideas, consider turning a portion of that select beef belly cut into beef bacon for pairing with a smorgasbord of morning accouterments. Join beef bacon with the forces of fried eggs and sauteed cabbage, creamy scrambled eggs or a breakfast burger with beef bacon. The possibilities don’t end there, though.
Give a beef bacon and squash breakfast hash a go, bake a beef bacon brunch casserole or toss together eggs in a bagel hole with beef bacon. Making pastrami with that leftover beef belly? Add beef belly pastrami to a Reuben breakfast sandwich or a quick and easy pastrami hash with eggs for a delightful morning plate.
- Beef Bacon with Eggs & Cabbage
- Creamy Scrambled Eggs and Smoked Beef Bacon
- Breakfast Burger
- Beef Bacon Squash Breakfast Hash
- Eggs in a Bagel Hole with Beef Bacon and Cheese
- Beef Bacon Brunch Casserole
- Reuben Breakfast Sandwich
- Quick Pastrami Hash & Eggs
Smoked Beef Belly Recipes
Curious how to turn that marbled and meaty slab of belly into a full-on dinner? The options are extensive. Try smoking beef belly West Texas-style via a slow-cooked method with an apple cider vinegar mixture and hickory or oak wood chips. Smoked beef belly can be sliced thin for sandwiches, chopped and shredded for nachos, chunked for beef belly chili or simply served barbecue style.
You can also smoke beef belly brisket-style or beer-braise it after smoking for a corned beef-pastrami mashup. Beef belly burnt ends are another dreamy delight – toss with your preferred barbecue sauce and pair with your favorite sides like coleslaw, mac and cheese or cornbread.
- West Texas Beef Belly Smoked and Slow-Cooked
- Beef Belly Smoked Brisket Style
- Smoked and Beer-Braised Corned Beef
- Beef Belly Burnt Ends
Beef Belly Savory Main Courses
For more savory inspiration, braise beef belly with beef broth, veggies and herbs and plate with potatoes or polenta. Other braising ideas include tomato, red wine and mustard and grilling post-braise for a barbecued beef belly served brisket-style. For more main course conceptions, try roasting beef belly or cooking via a sous-vide technique or even give beef belly pot roast a try.
Braised beef belly is spectacular for making beef belly tacos served with cilantro and warm corn tortillas. Embellish even more dinner dishes with succulent beef bacon – make a ground beef bacon goulash, beef bacon carbonara and pasta, or enrichen beans and brussels sprouts with beef bacon. For two last main course opportunities, consider beef belly with orzo or wrap beef bacon around bites of delicate filet mignon.
- Braised Beef Navel
- Braised Beef Belly with Tomato, Red Wine and Mustard
- Braised and BBQ’d Beef Belly Brisket
- Roast Beef Belly
- Sous-Vide BBQ Beef Belly
- Beef Belly Pot Roast
- Tacos Suaderos
Beef Bacon Dinner Recipes
- Ground Beef-Bacon Goulash
- Beef Bacon Spaghetti
- Beef Bacon Halal Carbonara
- Beef Bacon Mushroom Pasta
- Mac-N-Cheese with Beef Bacon
- Beef Bacon Brussels Sprouts
- Beef Bacon Baked Beans
- Beef Bacon in Orzo Pasta
- Beef Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon
Exotic Beef Belly Recipes
When looking to expand your palate, consider experimenting with cuisines from other cultures. Instant rice with grilled beef belly and a fried egg is a simple dish to start you off. Next, sample beef brisket soup made with beef belly, beef bones, white radish and green onion. A Japanese beef bowl is also an exciting option with thinly sliced beef belly, cooked in a dashi sauce and served over white rice.
Substitute beef belly for boneless ribeye steak in Korean beef bulgogi for a rich and flavorful dish. This Korean barbecue beef recipe is made with grated pear, minced garlic, ginger and red pepper paste. Finally, check out nilagang beef belly – a traditional Filipino meat soup with meat and veggies. This sweet and salty soup is a new and exciting opportunity to use beef belly in a bold dish made with multiple ingredients including corn, cabbage, lemongrass and saba bananas.
Beef Belly Snack Recipes
Looking for something a little more grazable to make with that beef belly? Your best bet is to use beef bacon. For a savory appetizer, sample smoked beef shots built from smoked sausage, jalapeno and a cheese filling all wrapped in beef bacon. For a lighter snack, try a BBLAT: a beef bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato wrap. For a thicker sandwich, utilize beef bacon in a classic BLT.
Bite into beef bacon hot dogs for a pork-free snack, add beef bacon to a French dip, wrap jalapeno poppers in smoky beef bacon or fry up a platter of mac and cheese bites enhanced with pork-free bacon. For more quick snacks for sharing, consider subbing braised beef belly for brisket in nachos, queso or a quick beef quesadilla. And for dessert, there’s always candied beef bacon – lovely for a pop of sweet, crispy flavor.
- Smoked Beef Shots with Beef Bacon
- B.B.L.A.T. Lettuce Wraps (Beef Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, & Tomato)
- The Best Beef Bacon BLT Sandwich
- Beef Bacon Hot Dogs
- Beef Bacon French Dip Sandwich
- Smoked Beef Bacon Jalapeno Poppers
- Beef Bacon Fried Mac and Cheese Bites
- Candied Beef Bacon
Cured Beef Belly
Looking to extend the life and opportunity of your beef belly through tried and true curing methods? You have two options available to you: cured beef bacon and pastrami. To make beef bacon, you’ll dry cure and smoke beef belly. No smoker? It can also be smoked on a grill or cooked on low in your oven. You can use a straightforward recipe with salt, sugar and instant cure or add the flavors of maple and brown sugar.
A wet-cured version has also been supplied below, which is followed by a dry brine and smoking.
Your second option is rich and tender pastrami. When making pastrami, beef belly is brined and cured for 10 days, after which it is smoked for a good 8 hours until the meat reaches a temperature of 195° F. Serve pastrami with sauerkraut, cheese and mustard for a hot pastrami sandwich or add to dishes like Irish mac and cheese, corn chowder or even pizza.
- How to Make Beef Bacon
- Maple Cured Beef Bacon
- Brissie Basters’ Beef Bacon (Wet–Aging Technique)
- House-Cured Pastrami
Preserving Beef Belly
Given the rarity of finding a good hunk of the elusive beef belly cut, the impulse to buy just a little too much is completely relatable. Looking for the best methods of preservation will be an essential next step.
So what are the options for preserving beef belly?
Due to the higher fat content of beef belly, it is not recommended for dehydration to make beef jerky. Even beef brisket jerky calls for leaner meat as fat doesn’t dehydrate well and has a much higher chance of going rancid. The best method of preserving this rich and marbled hunk of meat is freezing.
You can freeze beef belly in small portions rather than an entire slab for thawing and adding to meals here and there. Freeze beef belly securely in an airtight container, date and squeeze out as much air as possible to preserve the flavor of the meat. You may also try salting and brining beef belly (using beef belly in place of brisket for corned beef is one such method).
Finally, you can give pressure canning beef a try or can several stews, chilis and meals with beef belly for future consumption. These comforting meals are a shelf-stable comfort to pop open on a cold and dreary day.
- How to Freeze Raw Beef
- How to Store and Freeze Beef Brisket
- Preserving Meats by Salting and Brining
- Canning Beef
- 30+ Beef Canning Recipes (Stew, Chili and Meal in a Jar)
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