Sous vide lamb belly with amaranth, pearl onions and milk skin

Like all good things, Nuno Mendes' heavenly concoction of belly of lamb, onion leaves, delicate milk skin and amaranth takes some time to put together. To make this masterpiece you'll need to allow a couple of days to marinade the lamb, and then 12 hours more to sous vide it to perfection.

First published in 2015
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Sous vide lamb belly

Lamb jus

Onion leaves


Milk skin

  • 1000ml of whole milk

To plate


  • Sous vide or water bath
  • Thermometer
  • Sous vide bags
  • Microwave
  • Half gastro tray


You'll need a long run-up for the lamb so start two days in advance by making the marinade. Combine the water, pink salt, salt and sugar in a bowl. Put the marinade and lamb into a vacuum bag, seal and leave in the fridge for 48 hours
The next day, while the lamb is still in the fridge, prepare the lamb jus. Preheat the oven to 195°C/Gas mark 5. If your oven has a convection setting, select it
Roast the bones in the oven until golden brown
While the bones are roasting, make a mirepoix by chopping the onion, garlic and thyme
When the bones are golden, add the mirepoix, lower the oven temperature to 165°C/Gas mark 3 and roast for 10 minutes
Add enough water to cover the bones, turn off the convection setting (if you have one) and bake for 3 hours
Strain the bones, reserving the golden/light brown liquid. Lift the fat off the top and reduce the stock until it has a strong flavour. Leave in the fridge overnight to set
Take the vacuum bag with the marinated lamb from the fridge, place into the sous vide bath and cook at 65°C for 12 hours
On the day you plan to serve the dish, start by making the onion leaves. Vacuum seal the pearl onions at full pressure, microwave for 1 minute and then place the bag in ice-cold water
When the onions are cold, cut through the equator and peel off the leaves for garnish
Sweat the shallots in a saucepan with the butter and oil. While they are cooking, toast the amaranth grain in a separate pan and then add to the shallots. Cover with the chicken stock. Allow to cook for 10-12 minutes, the grains should still have a little crunch. Season and reserve somewhere warm until ready to plate
To make the milk skin, fill a half gastro tray 4cm deep with the milk, put it on top of the stove and bring to 110°C (use a thermometer to keep the temperature constant) so a skin will form
  • 400ml of whole milk
Carefully lift the skin off onto a tray lined with cling film and sprinkled with a few drops of milk to stop the skin sticking. Add more drops of milk and more cling film, wait for the next skin to form, and repeat
  • 600ml of whole milk
Take the lamb belly out of the vacuum bag and cut into portions, (this is easier when it's cold) then lightly colour all sides in a pan to reheat. While the lamb is cooking, reheat the jus also.
To plate, place a spoonful of amaranth in the centre of the plate. Arrange the lamb belly next to it. Scatter the onion leaves across the amaranth then top with the milk skin. Drizzle the jus across the plate, then scatter the samphire, tahoon cress and wood sorrel to garnish
First published in 2015

For a chef, having mentors like Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Ferran Adrià must be akin to taking music classes with Chopin and Brahms. Nuno Mendes' London restaurant demonstrates the qualities of ambition that most good protégés possess.

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