I have had some great pork belly over the years, some of the most memorable dishes were when I was travelling around Asia – Hong Kong in particular but I also cooked a great Gordon Ramsey recipe one time that had 5 spice where you boiled it wrapped in cling film with the rub, cooked it in the oven and then grilled it. I need to find that recipe as it was great!
Anyway, I have been meaning to cook pork belly for a while and thought it would be best suited to the smoker so it would be cooked low and slow to allow all the fat to break down. I had a look through my books and found a recipe for “Smoked Pork Belly” in the Hang Fire cook book. I decided to pair it with BBQ Pit Beans and Lexington style red slaw with beets also from the Hang Fire cook book. As the smoker was going to be on and there was space I chucked some mac n cheese in for a smoke as well! (I wrote about the mac n cheese before: http://kungfubbq.co.uk/ginger-glazed-ham-with-smoked-mac-and-cheese )
I got the pork belly from Turner and George, it was 2 kg in size and was a nice square shape, quite equally sized across which should help with an even cook. The meat looked to be great quality as always.
The Pork Belly recipe also requires you to make the Hang Fire Almost All-purpose Rub and the Hang Fire Smokehouse Sauce. Both are pretty easy to make and I found a good bottle for the sauce!
To reduce my work on the day of the cook I also removed the rind from the pork belly and trimmed the fat down to 5 mm. I then made the seasoning paste for the beans (onions, garlic, pepper, jalapenos, tomatoes, beef stock, 3 lots of beans, coriander and some of the above BBQ sauce) – I added some defrosted pulled pork to the mix in the morning. I also sliced the onion, shredded the cabbage then grated the carrots and beetroot for the slaw and made the dressing. My wife made the mac n cheese sauce ready to boil the macaroni in the morning.
On the morning of the cook we got the macaroni ready and mixed everything into 2 trays ready to go on the smoker. I poured 2 bags of heat beads into the smoker and used my looftlighter for the first time. It was a lot easier to light the briquettes as I had a lot of trouble with the heat beads using the chimney and flamers last time. This time I just held it against the briquettes for about 5 minutes then put the smoker together and let the BBQ Guru blow a breeze against the fire which seemed to work well.
I rubbed oil into the pork belly then scattered the rub over all sides (using the shaker previously mentioned in other posts!)
I started off with some whisky oak, oak and cherry which was topped up with oak and cherry after an hour. The smell of the smoke was fantastic, I could smell it in the house with the doors and windows shut!
The pork belly went in with the pit beans and the mac n cheese. The mac n cheese came out after 2.5 hours as it had a nice colour and crust to it.
Once the mac n cheese came out I put the fatty in (http://kungfubbq.co.uk/bbq1117-cajun-rubbed-fatty)
The recipe says the beans need 6 to 8 hours and the pork belly 5-6 hours. The pork belly needs to get to 88c internal and then you brush on 100 g of the warmed BBQ sauce. I ran it for 8 hours at a steady 225 f (thanks to the guru!) and it never went above 81c. I have had this a few times, I don’t know if it’s my probes, the Scottish weather, leaks on my smoker door or my general impatience but I stabbed it a few times with the thermapen and there was minimal resistance, I was happy from the temp graphs it wasn’t in a stall either so I brushed the BBQ sauce on and left it half an hour before pulling it off at 85c. Before I brushed the BBQ sauce on it had a nice black bark on it, the BBQ sauce gave it a shiny red colour which looked good.
When I cut into the pork belly it was very juicy, I had a sneaky bite and it was fantastic. The rub, sauce and smoky taste were very good.
The pork belly came with the bones in so I just sliced it between bones to serve a big slab per person. It reminded me of the pork ribs I had at Hotbox, must be a similar cut.
I then took the beans out. They looked quite dark and I was a bit worried but once I gave them a stir they looked fantastic (and tasted better still!)
I gave the slaw a good stir and it was ready to go:
As the Mac n Cheese was floating about I plated some of that up too:
I loved this meal, it was far too much food but I just wanted to keep eating it! The slaw worked well with the pork belly and pit beans, the mac n cheese is always good but all together it was fantastic.
Not sure I would change much, would be interesting to see if I could hit the target internal temps on the pork belly next time but on eating it I didn’t feel it needed any longer in the smoker.