There are few more enjoyable flavours than belly of pork. The high fat ratio (around 50%) on this particular cut will ensure that, if cooked correctly, the end product will melt in your mouth. Just like the point of a packer brisket, you can make the most of this fatty cut by producing a take on burnt ends – juicy, tender nuggets of BBQ greatness!
Brining isn’t essential, but it will help keep the meat moist and tender. Be sure to be careful with the salt content of your brine, too much will ruin the flavour of the pork. You can always inject the meat with a similar solution if you wish.
We’ve kept the rub fairly simple – paprika, salt and pepper – but you could add further layers of flavours if you wish. Onion powder (savoury), cayenne pepper (spicy) or brown sugar (sweet) are tasty additions to a basic rub.
Pineapple complements pork wonderfully, an obvious choice for creating a BBQ sauce with a difference. Adds a sweet touch to the savouriness. Grapefruit would also work, the fruity, sharp flavours will cut through the pork nicely.
You can opt to keep the skin on, but beware that it’ll be difficult to get a crispy finish at a temperature so low. It will also be very tricky to slice the “burnt ends” into uniform pieces. But if you find crackling irresistible, ensure that you score the skin first, and massage with olive oil and salt. Then start the cook with the belly close to the charcoal (skin side down) for the first 30 minutes or so, being very careful not to burn the skin.
Either way, these bite sized chunks are ideal for parties with friends and family, you cant fail to impress!
- 1 kg boneless, skinless pork belly
- 1 tablespoon rock salt
- 1 tablespoons white sugar
- 3 juniper berries, crushed
- 3 cloves, crushed
- 300 ml water
- 4 tablespoons paprika
- 4 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
- 2 tablespoon rock salt
- 1 medium pineapple, diced
- ½ cup tomato ketchup
- 3 tablespoons demerara sugar
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons golden syrup
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon rock salt
Combine the ingredients of the brine and bring to a gentle simmer. Take off the heat, stir and leave to cool.
Prep the pork belly. Square off the edges so that the meat is a neat rectangular shape. Once the brine is cooled, combine with the pork in a zip lock bag and refrigerate for at least four hours, preferably overnight.
Once the pork belly has brined, remove it from the liquid. Rinse well and pat dry. Mix together the ingredients of the rub, and apply liberally to the pork. You’ll want to leave the rub on the meat for around half an hour or so before it hits the smoker, giving the flavours a little time to infuse.
Fire up the smoker. Bring it up to a temperature of 250°F/121°C, then add a chunk of both hickory and cherry. Wait until the smoke thins out, and turns a tint of blue. Then add the pork to the grill grate.
Whilst you are waiting for the pork to cook, combine the ingredients of the glaze and bring to a gentle simmer, heat for 5 minutes. Then blitz in a food processor. Keep it warm until its ready to apply to the pork belly.
You’ll need to cook the belly until its internal temperature reaches 185°F/85°C. This may take 3 hours or so, prepare to be patient. With larger pieces of meat, the cooking process may stall when the meat hits an internal temperature of around 150°F/66°C to 160°F/71°C, so it may take some time to reach its desired temperature. If this occurs, wrap the meat tightly in some aluminium foil with a drop of apple juice and return to the smoker.
Ramp up the temperature of your smoker to 300°F/149°C. If you are using a bullet smoker (or vertical smoker) like ours, an easy way to quickly bring it up to temperature is to carefully remove the water pan. Then dip the chunks into the glaze, covering completely with the warm sauce, and return to the grill for 20 minutes.
Finally, remove from the grill.
Stop drooling and get stuck in!