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5 from 3 votes

Smoked Pork Belly Recipe

While there's a lot of debate on what the best type of meat for barbecuing is, one thing we can all agree on is that pork is definitely a contender for that top spot. Specifically, the smoked pork belly. Succulent, tender, and versatile like nothing else, a smoked pork belly is one of the most delicious things you can slap on the grill this summer.

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Pork Belly
Servings: 4
Calories: 614kcal

Equipment

  • Paper towels
  • Large food-safe bucket or steel pot.
  • meat thermometer
  • Plastic spray bottle
  • Food safe brush.
  • Large aluminum baking pan
  • Charcoal smoker
  • Chunk charcoal and apple wood chunks/chips.

Ingredients

  • Pork belly, ~4 lbs

  • 3 gallons fresh, cold water

  • 1/2 

    Gallon

    Apple cider plus more for spraying.

  • 1 1/2 

    Cups

    Kosher salt

  • 1/2

    Cup Dark molasses

  • 1/2

    Cup Dark brown sugar

  • 1/2

    Cup BBQ sauce of choice

  • 2

    Tablespoons

    Crushed black peppercorns.

  • 1

    Tablespoon Freshly ground black pepper.

  • 2

    Teaspoons

    Garlic powder

  • 2 Teaspoons Onion powder.

  • 1 Teaspoon

    Hot paprika

  • 1 Teaspoon Dried oregano

Instructions

  • Pork belly is a naturally flavorful and fatty piece of meat but there's no rule saying you can't make it even more delicious.

  • For that, we'll use a simple brine.

  • Mix together your cold water, your apple cider, your molasses, your peppercorns, and a cup of salt until well combined (you may wish to heat the apple cider in a small pot on the stop with the molasses to help it incorporate easier).

  • When your brine is mixed and all the salt and molasses have dissolved into the liquid, take a sharp knife and, if need be, trim up your pork belly by removing any little bits of fat or meat that make the shape too irregular.

  • You can also remove the skin if desired but this will crisp up beautifully during the cook and is not advised.

  • Once trimmed, simply score the top of the skin and fat in a diamond pattern, taking care not to cut into the meat itself.

  • Once scored, drop the pork into the brine and allow it to sit in a cool place for one to three days.

  • After brining for your desired amount of time, remove the pork belly from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.

  • Discard the brining liquid. If you notice any of the peppercorns are stuck into the cuts you made on the pork, go ahead and pull those out of there in the interest of not breaking a tooth on the final product.

  • With your pork thoroughly dried, mix together your remaining salt and the dry spices into a rub.

  • Apply this liberally to the outside of the meat, making sure to work it into the scoring.

  • After seasoning, let the meat sit out at room temperature to warm up slightly for around 10 to 20 minutes as you move onto the next step.

  • Step outside to start preparing your smoker now that the meat is seasoned up and ready to go.

  • Fill up the smoker around halfway with charcoal, lighting it and closing the lid with the air vents fully opened.

  • Allow this to burn for a good several minutes so the coals get nice and hot.

  • Additionally, if you're using wood chips, this is a good time to start soaking them in hot water.

  • After the charcoal has burnt down and gotten ashy, place on some more along with your wood.

  • Top with the smoker grate and close the lid again to let things get back up to temperature, filling the water tank if your device uses one.

  • When the new fuel has had a chance to burn and the inside of the cooker is nice and smoky, you're ready to cook.

  • Lay the pork down on the smoker grate with the skin facing up. 

  • As the fat renders, it will drip down and baste the meat rather than simply falling into the open flames.

  • If you want, you could place a tray underneath the meat and sit it on top of a wire rack to catch all the drippings to use for any number of things later.

  • Either way, you'll be letting the meat smoke for several hours, keeping the temperature consistent by adding more charcoal, wood, and water as needed and adjusting the air vents whenever new fuel goes on.

  • Every half hour or so, spray the meat down with some apple cider.

  • This helps the meat to stay moist and adds a bit of extra tang to the crust that's forming.

  • You're looking for a temperature of around 190 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest point.

  • When you get there, it's time to brush the top of the meat down with some BBQ sauce, then invert directly onto the smoker grate.

  • Let this cook for around five minutes before repeating the process with the underside.

  • You can keep doing this as many times as you like to continue to build a crust, though be careful not to let the sauce burn.

  • Around three times on each side is a good place to start.

  • After finishing the pork with the sauce, remove it from the smoker and allow it to rest at room temperature for around 20 minutes, preferably inside a large aluminum baking pan.

  • This lets the meat relax and the proteins reabsorb the juices that would otherwise be lost when you cut into the meat.

  • While it's going to be hard to wait with so many good smells and empty stomachs, it'll be more than worth it not to compromise the final product.

  • Once the agonizing resting process has ended, it's finally time to eat.

Nutrition

Serving: 113g | Calories: 614kcal