After see posts on this site, watching countless YouTube videos and hours upon hours of nervous research I decided to buy a pork belly and give bacon a try on my Big Joe. Like others have commented I found the pink salt was not as easy to find as I assumed, so I bought some off Amazon. I bought a 10-lb pork belly from Costco, found an easy recipe on line and started my adventure! I followed the recipe below as a template:
I used dark brown sugar because that's what I had and I used pure Vermont Maple Syrup instead of honey. I used cayenne pepper on half of the belly and none on the other just because I forgot to put it in my first batch of the curing paste.
I had to cut the pork belly in half because I was using 1-gallon ziploc bags and this resulted in two different flavors to my bacon. The first one without the cayenne pepper finished curing in 9 days. Based on the hours of research I guessed at it being done because it was pretty stiff compared to when it first started. The second bag with the cayenne pepper leaked much of the liquid and didn't seem ready. So when I removed the first belly I drained the second bag, made another batch of the curing paste and started the process again.
The first batch of bacon I rinsed thoroughly, dried with paper towels and placed on a drying rack in the fridge for a day unwrapped and uncovered. The next day I smoked it for about 3 hours keeping the temperature between 200-240 and cooking until the internal temp was 150. I used 2 small chunks of apple wood for the smoke.
Since I don't have a meat slicer I was "forced" to buy a Dalstrong Gladiator Series Ham Knife which was heavily recommended throughout this site. I did my best to keep the strips as thin as possible and even.
The family loved the bacon and I was happy with the result as well. Now the second half of the pork belly finished up about 4 days later and I followed the same smoking process except I add 2 chunks of cherry wood and 2 chunks of apple wood. I didn't think the first round of bacon was smoky enough so I doubled the amount of wood.
This was noticeably better than the first round! I tasted smoke this time and it wasn't overpowering. The flavors of this bacon were much more pronounced that the first round and while I know the added wood made a difference, I wonder if re-doing the curing process half the way through made any difference.
Regardless, I enjoyed the whole preparation and cooking of the bacon and will do this from now on! It wasn't nearly as difficult as I had thought and though the second batch was better both were fantastic! As good or better than anything I've ever bought from the store. My family all claim it's better than anything we've ever bought, but I guess I'm a little more critical of my cooking than they are.
I've been seeing your posts about pork belly and wondering what the big deal was ... well, now I know!
I headed over to Costco and got one ... seasoned it up with my homemade rub.
After about 4 hours of hickory smoke at 225 - 250 F, I pulled it off the Kamado Joe, rested it and cooled it.
A few hours later when my better half made it home (I'm "working from home" for a few months) ... I sliced it and we heated the slices up on the griddle, and made some fried rice and "stir-fried" green beans with onions, almonds and mushrooms ...
The final product was fantastic ... at least the family thought so ... and that's some spicy Korean BBQ sauce drizzled on the pork belly.
Made these gorgeous pork belly tacos tonight and would love to share how I did them. I was going for some Mexican and Asian flavors, and couldn't have been happier with the result. The only issue at all was a light spot on the pork due to liquid pooling there during the cook because the belly was a bit big for my standard Joe and I had to scrunch it a little.
1. I brined it for about 14 hours in a mix of pineapple juice, teriyaki, and soy sauce after scoring the fat sight relatively deeply
2. Dried the belly and rubbed it with Killer Hogs BBQ Rub on all sides
3. Smoked on Kamado Joe at 240 with some cherry wood to add a light fruity smoke favor (no wrapping because I wanted some meaty bite in the taco)
4. When I had internals around 185, I glazed the belly and cooked for another 20ish minutes
5. Broiled the belly inside for 2 minutes to tighten up the glaze and crisp the fat even more
6. Rested the meat for about 40 minutes (should have gone longer but people were too hungry :D )
1. Mix together raw honey, soy sauce, salt, worcestershire sauce, peach preservers (wanted pineapple to go with the brine but couldn't find it), apple cider vinegar, kosher salt, black pepper, hot bone sucking bbq sauce, and some secret super hot scotch bonnet hot sauce I bought in Anguilla. All of this is unmeasured and I mixed to taste.
2. Simmer on the stove until the mixture reduces a bit and thickens up, allow to cool off the heat
1. Home made guacamole (avocado, lots of lime, onion, kosher salt, pepper, cilantro)
2. Home made Chipotle Crema (sour cream, heavy cream, lime juice, canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, adobo sauce, kosher salt)
3. Grilled pineapple on the same grates I cooked the pork on
4. Cojita Cheese
6. Home made pickled onions (red onion, apple cider vinegar, kosher salt, sugar, water)
Please enjoy the pictures, and as usual, ask any questions!
So it's family Christmas at my brothers this year which means interstate for two families. I asked my brother what we could bring to help contribute and i was told nothing. It's all sorted. But i just couldn't turn up empty handed.
I think I'm taking the perfect thing.... home made bacon!
Picked up a pork belly, wet brined for 4 days in a solution of salt pepper, molasses, sugar and water.
Hot smoked on the KJ for approx 2hrs (150f internal temp).
Should feed the whole family breakfast for the time we're there :-)