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Perfect Pork Belly?


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In my never ending effort to achieve greatness in all things barbecue and grilling, one of my recent projects has been the perfect slab of pork belly.  I have spent a lot of time reading about how this is done.  Perfect pork belly has to be extremely juicy and buttery tender.  That is the easy part.  The icing on the cake is an insanely crispy skin.  

 

One thing I have learned early on is that SMOKE is the enemy of crisping pork skin.  That residue that builds up on the skin will just create an unpleasantly hard and sometimes chewy skin rather than a gloriously crisp and crunchy skin.  I have wasted too many pieces of pork belly and skin-on picnic roasts to count trying to make this perfect.

 

Sometimes you just gotta step back and THINK about what you KNOW.  

 

What we KNOW:

 

Pork Belly in this form needs to be slow cooked to tenderize nicely.  

 

Pork skin needs to be cooked hot and fast to even have a chance at getting crispy like this.  

 

How do you bring the two together?

 

In today's test, I smoked this slab of pork belly and then put the skin side down in a hot pan of oil to 'deep fry' the skin a la the 'cracklins' that we all love.  The results are quite remarkable...

 

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looks fantastic!!!

 

Pork Belly is one of those things that I want to tackle but never will. I am constantly talking myself out of grabbing one when I walk through Costco which, let's face it, is at least four times a week. :-D

 

There are certain cultural things that are hard to shake I guess. And while I've mastered the aversion to red or pink in my steak or burgers, the necessity of having veggies cooked to mush, overcooked fish and chicken, etc. Pork fat absolutely has to be crispy for me to venture eating it. 

Edited by CentralTexBBQ
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12 hours ago, John Setzler said:

Pork Belly in this form needs to be slow cooked to tenderize nicely.  

 

Pork skin needs to be cooked hot and fast to even have a chance at getting crispy like this.  

 

How do you bring the two together?

 

In today's test, I smoked this slab of pork belly and then put the skin side down in a hot pan of oil to 'deep fry' the skin

I agree. Smoked one on the traeger a while back. Package recommended @ 170 as I recall. Research told me @200+, so that is what I did. We sliced some and ate it like that. Sliced some like bacon and fried it, even better. Then we cut some in like 1/2 inch to 1 inch cubes and fried those. Those we could even stand up in the pan with the fat side down, no oil. Better still.

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Looks amazing @John Setzler

 

After watching many Asian cooking methods, I have also found similar results.  A longer cooking at the lower temp, even in a tin foil "boat" (almost braising) in it's own fat and then into a 425-450 oven in roast mode at the end also gives a great cracklin', though I suspect your deep fried version is the ultimate solution.

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