Bacon is certainly the king of the pork kingdom, and it really does make everything taste better! But have you ever tried pork belly on its own? Pork belly is just the belly of a pig, and is an uncured and unsmoked version of bacon in slab form.
It is becoming more common to see pork belly on restaurant menus, but it is super easy to grill and smoke pork belly at home on your TEC Grill using the Infrared Smoker/Roaster accessory. Your local butcher shop probably has this cut of meat, or can easily get it for you. Read on for the step by step for how to grill and smoke your own pork belly.
BRINE THE PORK BELLY
First off, you want to brine the pork. This will help to tenderize and provide some flavor to the meat.
1. Rinse the pork belly under cold water, and pat dry. Trim off any excess fat if desired.
2. Add the following ingredients to a 4-5 quart stockpot:
-1 onion, sliced
-2 tablespoons salt
-2 tablespoons cumin seeds
-2 tablespoons dried oregano
-1 tablespoon peppercorns
3. Add about 6-8 cups of cold water to the pot. Heat over low heat, stirring just until salt is dissolved. Remove from heat, and place in refrigerator until brine is cool.
4. When the brine is cool, add the pork belly to the pot. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature about 1 hour before cooking.
SMOKE THE PORK BELLY
Adding a little rub and seasoning before smoking will add flavor to the pork belly.
When you are ready to grill, place the Smoker/Roaster rack on top of the grates of your TEC Grill. Position the chip corral in front of the rack, and fill the corral with small wood chips (we suggest apple or pecan wood with pork). No need to pre-soak the chips!
Preheat the grill on medium for 10 minutes with the hood closed until the chips start to smoke.
Remove the pork belly from the brine. Rinse it and pat dry. Use a sharp knife to score the pork belly. Cut through the top fat cap just until you reach the meat layer. You can score it straight across, or cut a cross-hatch pattern.
Sprinkle your favorite rub all over the pork, and rub into the meat (especially into the cuts). We used Lane’s BBQ Signature Rub on one half of the belly, and Chinese five-spice powder on the other half.
When the grill is hot, turn down the heat to low. Place the pork belly on the Smoker/Roaster. Pour about 1/2 inch of beer into the radiant drip tray to braise the pork while it grills.
Close the lid of the grill, and smoke the pork belly for about 2-3 hours checking it about every 30 minutes, and adding more wood chips as needed to keep smoke going. The temperature inside the grill should be around 250 degrees. You may need to add more beer to the pan to keep the pork belly tender, but typically there is enough fat from the pork that will melt off and braise the meat as it cooks. The pork belly is done when the internal temperature reaches at least 160 degrees, and the pork is very tender.
GLAZE AND FINISH THE PORK BELLY
Glazing the pork belly and finishing it on the grill will crisp up the skin, and give it a beautiful lacquer.
When the pork is done, remove from the grill and set aside.
If you have a double burner grill, preheat the other side of the grill on medium heat with the lid closed. If you have a single burner grill, turn off the grill and allow the Smoker/Roaster to cool for about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the Smoker/Roaster from your grill and set aside. Continue with preheating the grill on medium heat with the lid closed.
When the grill is hot, place the pork belly directly on the grates of the grill.
Brush some of your favorite glaze on both sides of the pork belly. We used two glazes on our pork belly:
-Brown sugar, orange juice, and bourbon on the BBQ rub.
-Pomegranate molasses, soy sauce, fish sauce, and chili garlic paste on the five spice rub.
Continue grilling, basting generously, until the outside is browned and lacquered. The skin will bubble up, which creates delicious pork rind cracklings!
Remove the pork belly from the grill and let rest before slicing or cutting into chunks.
Pork belly is delicious on its own! But also try it in steamed buns, in tacos, or even on sandwiches.
For more ideas on how to use pork belly, check out these links: