Had and idea for a different take on pork belly burned ends on the weekend.
Spun the belly on my KJ Jr Rotisserie
Once I had my crackle I removed the belly and reconfigured my jr. separated the crackle from the belly, set crackle aside and dice the belly into cubes. Put the belly into a pan with some gingerbeer and apple juice and put it back on the Jr, indirect covered in foil.
chooped the crackle into a rustic crumb and added some garlic chives.
Very happy with the result. My idea for the next one is the same process but with Asian flavours.
Thanks for looking!
So who doesn't love a good old roast pork belly. That succulent juicy goodness that a slow roast pork belly delivers...
Yesterday was my first crack at a pork belly on the Kamado Joe , gotta say I was a little hesitant as what is pork belly without a good crackle. Did the obligatory 99 thousand YouTube videos and read sooooo many posts on the subject. Decided to just give it a go on gut instinct. To my surprise it worked pretty well. :-)
My method :
Pork Belly prep
Morning of cook (about 6hrs before)
Bathed the skin in Boiling water
Dried with paper towels
Liberal coating of ground Himalayan pink sea salt , a dash of a spiciy garlic mix I found in the cupboard.
Placed in the fridge uncovered.
Just prior to cooking I dried the skin again and spent about 15mins using a hair drier to get the skin as dry as possible.
Nothing too fancy here, cleaned ash from last cook , arranged the larger coals on the bottom and added a handful of new large pieces. A handfull of hickory smoking chips added throughout the charcoal.
For the initial part of the cook I added the Divide and Conquer system with 1/2 the deflector and 1/2 the grill rack on the Xrack on the lower position with the other grill rack above the deflector.
Was aiming for about 150C for the majority of the cook time.
Again subscribing to the KISS principle for the potatoes and pumpkin. For the spuds it was a simple wash as I was leaving the skin on and whole. The pumpkin was just cut into largish chunks.
For the corn , wanted to experiment here a little. Decided to add some butter and garlic , wrap in baking paper and foil for the duration of the cook. Thought the garlic would impart a lovely subtle flavour and the butter would keep it moist and add that corn and buttery goodness.
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Placed them all in a roasting pan with a dash of oil in the bottom and a good season of fresh cracked pepper and more pink Himalayan sea salt.
Total Duration : 4hrs
Kamado up to temp - ~150 C and held there for around 30 minutes prior to cook.
Initial 30 minutes, Pork belly only on lower rack skin down @ ~150C
After the initial 30 minutes I moved the pork belly to the rack above the deflector
Re-set the lower rack to the upper rack position and added the pan veggies.
For the next 3 hrs I aimed to keep the temp around 150-170 Deg C.
I had read in a number of posts that due to the awesome cooking abilities of the Joe in keeping moisture in that it may be benifitial to have a relativley higher volume of air moving through the Joe without getting it too hot. This is to try and drive "dry" air over the skin in an attempt to get that crackle going. With this in the back of my mind I played with the vents to see what could be achieved. In the end for most of the cook I was wide open on the top vent and about 20mm on the bottom vent, this seemed the most stable and achieved the desired temps.
At around the 3hr 15 minutes I tested the veggies and they were perfect , took them out and placed them in the oven to keep them warm (pre warmed oven to ~100 C and turned off). Once the veggies were off , I re-set the rack back to the lower postion and cracked open the bottom vent , I was aiming to raise the temp ~200-225 C. Placed the pork belly skin down on the lower rack while it came up to temp, let it cook there for 5-10 minutes then put the pork back up to the upper rack and let it cook at the higher temp for the next 20 minutes.
Pulled the pork belly off after 4hrs , wasnt 100 % happy with the crackle , there was some and it looked good but not as much as I was after. Cracked out the hairdrier and hit the skin a close range for a couple of minutes , improved it abit but still under my expectations.
Pork :10/10 Crackle : 6/10 Veggies : 10/10
Improvements for next cook
Crackle , crackle , crackle. Need to experiment here and see what works best. Apply some of the experience from the interweb and see what happens.
Photos are on my Blog post/page
Artisan Belly Bacon using a 'Sweet Cure'
For this bacon, I wanted to push up the sugar percentage in the equilibrium immersion cure more toward what some might refer to as a ‘Sweet Cure’ bacon at 6% sugars in the curing brine. Just to give us a taste comparison to belly bacon using lower sugar concentrations in prior bacon batches. I also slightly increased my typical salt percentage up to 2.5%.
The bacon flavor after the final fridge rest has become quite uniform and well balanced throughout the meat. Quite good to eat freshly sliced (since it is fully "cooked") , but outstanding when carefully fried off at low to medium heat due to the higher sugar. It cooks and crisps nicely with the outer edges developing a nice caramelization. It has a much sweeter finish on the palate when eating a slice. Quite rich. Quite filling. Great for breakfast, outstanding on BLTs.
This started out at just under 10 lbs. I utilized an equilibrium immersion cure approach at the higher sugar level. Cure #1, salt, brown/white sugar, and some fine ground black pepper in the brine. Smoked in my converted electric kitchen oven smoker using a graduated time/temperature profile starting at 130 and not exceeding 170 degrees heat. After immersion , a solid day in the fridge uncovered to dry. Dusted lightly with fine ground black pepper before hitting the smoker. A total cook time of 11.5 hours with 10.5 hours on the hickory smoke using pellets in my smoking maze. Internal meat temps were between 147 and 150. Yield after smoking was about 80% by weight from the initial meat weigh-in.
A 3 day fridge rest wrapped in peach butcher paper equalized the bacon and it firmed up nicely. Chilled for a bit in the freezer and sliced on the Berkel 827A at a thickness of 1/8 inch. Finally the bacon was chamber vacuum sealed in a mix of 1/2 and 1 pound packages. Ready for future good eats.
The family says this recipe is a keeper.
I know I said I was going to do a brisket in my last post, but I was talked into trying a pork belly for the first time instead. I followed the recipe and smoking directions of a friend and while we were pleased with the results, I'll definitely make some changes next time. The first change will be to not plan on the pork belly as the main focus of the meal. I think we would have enjoyed it much better if we would have served it as an appetizer. Next one will also get a little more of the fat cap trimmed off and I'll sear it on the griddle after a good smoke like @John Setzler described in his pork belly cook.