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Barbecued pork bellly

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
I had some barbecued pork belly at Fette Sau in NYC & it was ridiculously good. I intend to make some. After a bit of googling, my thought it just to slap a rub on it & barbecue it.

Has anyone here done this before? Any tricks, tips, caveats, etc?

NB: I mean barbecue in the several hours @ low temp with hardwood smoke sense. This was not Chinese style "barbecue pork," tasty as that stuff is.

TIA
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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post #2 of 33
Low and slow; keep it in the 215 - 230 range. It's not terribly forgiving in that way.

You'll need a large drip pan.

Any pork rub that's on the sweet side will do well.

Pork belly is a good choice for more "creative" rubs using things like cocoa powder, coffee, and so on. If it's good on bacon, it's good on belly. And, what isn't good on bacon?

My first choice for rubbing a belly is a sweet, "normal" pork rub, combined with a 50/50 mix of freshly toasted and ground fennell and coriander seeds, at a ratio of about 2 parts "normal" to 1 part fennell/coriander. The overall affect is of Italian/BBQ fusion. (Props to Michael Chiarello for the inspiration, btw.) We've used this rub successfully for all sorts of pork barbecue, including ribs, butt and belly.

For smoking woods, hickory is very characterstic of Southern pork barbecue. If that's what you're going for, it's a good choice. Oak is OK, but just OK -- at least on its own. Mesquite too strong. Any of the medium strength fruit and nut woods are good choices. My first choices (in no particular order) would be oak/cherry (very Euro), pecan/pear or pecan/peach; or straight apple.

It's going to be a tender product anyway, but if you're looking for exquisite tenderness -- wrap. Wrap at around 150F with a little juice, beer, wine, cognac or rum in the packet.

You'll have to be careful about your pull temp to avoid "tooth" and "mush." The proper internal is within a degree or two of 190F. Over 195 and stuff starts to fall apart too easily; while anything under 185 has a little too much character.

Outside of smoking, I'm more of a touch tester than a thermometer guy. But for low, slow and large -- for heaven's sake, use a thermometer. If you don't already have both good pit and meat thermometers, get a Maverick "Redi-Chek" ET-73. And, ASAP at that. Not the ET-7, ET-71 or anything else; the ET-73. It's got a wireless remote read for both chamber temp and meat internal, good to about 60' that makes smoking sooooooooooo much easier.

On the other hand, if you can afford it, a properly accessorized "BBQ Guru" is even better.

Boy? You payin' attention, boy? Don't make me take this belt off.

Hope this helps,
BDL
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post #3 of 33
wow.

when wrapping meat for barbecuing, does the smoke penetrate the wrap?
post #4 of 33
No. The "wrap" is almost always aluminum foil, or a (disposable or easily cleaned) pan covered with foil.

You can divide barbecue pits into two sorts. Those that burn hardwood logs for heat and smoke are called "stick burners." Then there are the other sort named according to their preferred fuel (gassers, charcoal-burners, 'lectrics, etc.) which use some other fuel for heat, whether (duh) charcoal, gas, electric, or something else for heat, and which burn pellets, hardwood sawdust, or hardwood chunks for smoke.

Of course, there are other ways to name pits. By their shapes for instance, yielding names like offsets, pipes, cabinets, and so on.

For what it's worth, anything with a large enough fire box can be a stick-burner. Most stick-burners are (built in) brick pits or they're offsets. Any stick-burner can also be a charcoal burner. Of those offsets which are too small to burn sticks effectively, most are charcoal-burners -- as opposed to gas or electric.

Before people jump in with stories of how they went all stick in their Silver Smokers or little Brinmanns, let me add that you absolutely can go all stick in a small offset. However, in addition to requiring constant tending, they're also very susceptible to imparting tastes from wood (which, for lack of age, moisture, mold, pitch, etc., might have been less than an optimal).

As it happens, my offset, a Bar B Chef which was too small to have been a good stick-burner, was converted from charcoal to run a gas fired "Afterburner-H."

All of which gets us to the following: With the 'cues which aren't stick-burners, the pitmaster often stops making hardwood smoke somewhere around halfway through the process, as the meat has absorbed all of the smoke which it can profitably handle, anyway.

It's not only a matter of efficiency and economy, but avoids "over-smoking" as well.

Wrapping meat near the end of the cook will not cause it to be "under-smoked," if that's your concern.

Some cooks believe that it negatively impacts the "bark." Others believe that it has a tendency to over-tenderize the meat. Still others think that it's insufficiently orthodox. Indeed, I've heard barbecue celebrity purists say, "wrapping is braising and braising ain't barbecue."

The reality is if you're serious about barbecue competitions, you've simply got to wrap. Comp seems like a digression, and it definitely shouldn't be the be all and end all for home barbecuers. Let's just say that the crucible of competition settled any questions about the utility of wrapping once and for all.

Those cooks who wrap, but also want a dry bark, usually open the pack for the last hour or so (which would allow something around a 10F increase for a 10# butt, cooking at 225F), to allow drier heat to get to the surface.

In my opinion, that's unnecessary with pork belly. It should be finished and served moist -- along with the "braising liquid" from the wrapped packet or pan.

Does this sufficiently address your question?
BDL
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post #5 of 33
10 F? Must be freezer burned pork butt.
post #6 of 33
Is that the aroma of pulled leg? Oh well, just in case:

That's a 10F delta. In other words if a 10# butt is at an internal of 185F (the stall ended), in a 225F pit, the 10F change to 195F will take about an hour.

These sorts of predictions are tricky and the lower the temperature the more tricky they get. Fortunately, most 'q can rest for a long time in an appropriately prepared container. So, it's a good idea to add plenty of rest time to the time estimates you find in smoking recipes to prevent late-service surprises.

BDL
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post #7 of 33
My favorite, if I'm mixing woods, is Oak/Hickory/Pecan. A close second is Peach/Apple/Plum/ and a little mesquite because it brings on a bark that the fruit woods don't bring to the party.
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post #8 of 33
Those certainly sound like great smoke wood combinations. I can't recall using the particular combination of peach/apple/plum, but imagine it would be great.

I don't think you'd want any bark to speak of on a belly, would you?

The reason I suggested avoiding hickory for belly isn't because it doesn't go well, but because it's such a cliche. Like mesquite, no matter you can moderate it with a combination, but unless you use something stronger, it's going to leave its distinctive signature. Great if that's what you want.

With oak and hickory I go one way or the other, and don't combine them. I also find that mesquite works with oak, but not hickory; and if you're going to use hickory in a combination, it should be the "lead" wood and the other players should be medium to mild.

It's just a matter of personal taste and I've certainly eaten excellent barbecue cooked over combinations I wouldn't use myself.

Of course, the age and type of wood (lump, pellet, chips, dust, etc.) has a lot to do with what works, as do proportions. When it comes to a lot of woods, availability plays a big part as well.

And as always with 'q -- more so than with any other type of cooking -- things can be so very equipment dependent. Things which work in some cookers either don't work at all in others, or are simply too much trouble to get right.

BDL
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post #9 of 33
Down here in southeast Georgia it's pecan wood that's used widely for bbq.

And at some point during the cooking process, almost everyone foils the meat.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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post #10 of 33
yes, that is an excellent response. this is knowledge that will be passed down for generations

to clarify soem concepts:

If smoking, smoke first. (or cook first if not smoking) in the pit, then wrap. then unwrap later if desired to regulate the bark or moisture?

and if not smoking. you can wrap the whole time. or wrap first and then unwrap to make the bark?



whats the deal with wrapping in banana leaves?

At a restaurant I used to help at, the barbeque guys would be smoking outside in a pit or bringing in form our barbeque mans place of work. and then putting wraps in the oven to finish I always wondered what was going on., they seemed to be putting sauce in with the wraps...

Thank you brother BDL
post #11 of 33
Smoke first. Smoke's effects take place when the meat's temperature is less than 145F. And as with stovetop cooking, 'brown'/smoke the meat first, then foil later on.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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post #12 of 33
thank you brother kokopuffs
post #13 of 33
Visit this site for q'ing info: The Virtual Weber Bullet - For the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker smoker enthusiast

And also visit a q'ing site called 'The Smoke Ring'.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

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post #14 of 33
I just looked up this place Fette Sau. Can't wait to go there!

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #15 of 33
I actually forgot that we were discussing belly specifically. Bark there wouldn't be very pleasing to the palette. I use that blend more for a shoulder or butt, maybe ribs, but never a belly or tenderloin. Too much texture from a bark for such tender cuts.
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post #16 of 33
Chef, I've said it before... we think along very similar culinary lines. So much so, I'm starting to get suspicous. Has anyone seen us in the same room at the same time?

BDL
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post #17 of 33
Not yet. :smoking:
Dammi un coltello affilato e vi mostrerò l'arte più belle del mondo.
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post #18 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the responses, esp. specific temperatures.

I was quite impressed with Fette Sau, & I'm pretty critical when it comes to Q. I didn't care for their boneless beef ribs, but everything else ranged from quite good to top-drawer - esp. the pork belly, which, IIRC, did have some bark. Oh- and lamb ribs. Out of this world.

I'm going to use a rub I used on ribs last summer & liked a lot - white peppercorn, szechuan pepper & coriander. Wood will probably be hickory, but I'm keen to get hold of some other woods, & it seems like that shouldn't be that hard in southern CA - there's plenty of fruit trees around. (anyone ever use citrus wood? I've never heard of it being used. Grape is supposed to be good...) Anyway, any ideas on hardwood sources would be welcome.

I do my Q in a Weber kettle, which isn't ideal, but I have learned to make it work. I can keep it at ~250f for 6-8 hours, & have had terrific results with ribs & butt. As for a thermometer, I recently got a Thermapen, & that pretty much ate up my temperature-measuring-device budget for the time being.

I don't know when I'm going to get around to giving this a whirl - soon, I hope - but when I do, I'll post results.
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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post #19 of 33
I am curious also if any one has ever used citrus wood for smoking. It looks like the recent freeze in Texas might have knocked out our citrus trees. We had orange, lemon, grapefruit, and lime trees. They look pretty sad right now.
post #20 of 33
LOL...you guys were so OT. I enjoyed the lurk, tho.
post #21 of 33
That same system is headed my way right now. I'd better go out and bag and stake my young pear and plum trees.
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post #22 of 33
Citrus woods work extremely well for smoking. In fact, they're something of a SoCal tradition.

I burn chunk (as opposed to sticks, pellets, chips, or dust) in the smoker; and charcoal in the grill, sometimes mixed with some chunk, or sometimes just burnt-down oak logs. I get my fuel from all sorts of places.

There's a guy in Alabama, Afterburner, who has very good prices on South-Eastern woods -- if you buy enough to get free shipping he's cheaper than anywhere local I know of. Barbecues Galore is at least convenient. There's a place called The Woodshed in OC http://thewoodshedoc.com/main.html?s...ndex2.html#3,0, which is suppose to be good (I've never used them). CalChar -- which is a very friendly, funky place in an area even native Angelenos don't get to often, California Charcoal & Firewood - Highest Quality Foodservice Products and Superior Service. If you don't want to pay BBQ Galore prices, you can get oak logs from nearly any fireplace supplier in SoCal; and sometimes Mesquite too. You might need your own chainsaw to make chunks, but a few will do it for you.

That's a start at least.

BDL
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post #23 of 33
Thread Starter 
Excellent. Just called CalChar - $12 for a 48 lb bundle of fruit wood. That sure sounds do-able.

I was also thinking of putting an ad on Craigslist - there's just got to be wood out there that people would be thrilled to have someone come and take away.

I could also just ask people at the farmer's markets...
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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post #24 of 33
Thanks, BDL. If we lost the citrus trees, I'll have a whole mess of wood to start ageing.

When my management company ran our golf course, we had hundreds of pecan trees on the course. Every time we had a storm, we ended up with literally tons of pecan wood. Since we had a large brick pit we used constantly during the golf season, we bought a log splitter. We had some storage rooms where we moved in green wood, and moved it on to the next room as it seasoned. Pecan smoked barbecue is wonderful, but not if you use green wood. We served a workl of barbecue out of that old pit.

I have a great place to buy wood now, and use mostly hickory and oak. I use a lot of mesquite for grilling, but don't like it much for smoking. While I'm anxious to try the citrus wood, I hope the trees make it.
post #25 of 33
My favorite way to bbq pork belly is to slice it relatively thin, less than one centimeter, marinate or rub and then put on the bbq over indirect heat until the skin gets all crispy and crunchy. You can buy it ready to throw on the grill like this in Bavaria and we always have that with some other meats when ever I'm back in Germany and the weather is good enough for the grill.
Cruncy skin, melting fat, and delicious meat in between, can't go wrong :-)
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post #26 of 33
Thread Starter 
OK, I picked up a 3 lb piece of pork belly & will give this a try in the next day or two.

I'm guessing 3 hours or so cooking time @ ~250f, wrap after an hour & a half? Please let me know if this sounds significantly off.

The skin - remove it or leave it on? If left on: is it meant to become edible? Kinda hard to see that happening. Even if it is rather thin belly skin, it's still, well, leather. If not , is there any point in putting rub on it or even salting it? Cook it skin side up, skin down, or flip it half way through? I'm thinking skin side (or fat side, if I'm trimming it) up, but I can argue myself both ways...

Thanks again
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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post #27 of 33
Skin on. Punch little holes in it, and ladle boiling water over it a for or five ladles at a time, four times during a ten minute period. This will help crisp the skin.

Dry the belly well before slathering and rubbing.

Use whatever rub you like for pork. I've got three I really like. One is a straight ahead "competition style" pork rub, the other is a variant with fennell and coriander -- somewhat inspired by Michael Chiarello's, and the third, also sweet, is "Asian inspired."

With belly, you want to keep the cook chamber fairly low. I favor higher temperatures generally, but would go lower than your proposed 250F; recommending 225F and an estimated 90/min per pound.

You want a very tender, but sliceable product -- so around 180F - 185F as a final internal temp. Probe in the meat, not the fat. If you don't have a thermometer, pick up the belly with a pair of tongs -- it's done when it's flexible; and get a Maverick ET-73 (nothing else) as soon as possible.

You don't have to try either of these -- the belly will be delicious if you cook it all the way to done low and slow. But, there are two alternative higher heat finishes, both very good. Crank the heat the last forty-five minutes to as high a temp as your smoker can hold without a run-away fire -- or 300F, whichever is lower, and use a mop during the period.

Or, transfer the belly to a regular charcoal or wood fired grill with a mature fire -- and cook it until the outsides are well crisped. If you use a sweet barbecue sauce as a mop, save it for the last few minutes. Caramelized sugar is a good thing -- burnt sugar, not so much.

Use a big drip pan. Check it during the cook to make sure it doesn't overflow.

You won't need much rest time. Five minutes before slicing will do it.

Any questions, let me know.

Hope this helps,
BDL
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post #28 of 33
Thread Starter 
Skin side up or down or flip?

I don't have a proper smoker, as I said. I have a Weber kettle grill, and for smoking in one of those, every degree under 300 is a blessing. I've managed to keep it at a pretty steady 250, & I've had an idea about how to lower that, so I'll give it a try. Thermometer is a Thermapen.

I like the idea of crisping it, esp. after wrapping. I can either light another chimney of charcoal 20 minutes before it'll be done & dump that in the Weber, or pop it under the broiler inside. Any sauce at all will probably be a simple vinegar sauce, ala Eastern NC style.

Coriander, white peppercorn & szechuan pepper for the rub.

Gonna do some lamb ribs, too, if I can find some. Pork belly & lamb ribs were the standouts at this joint in NYC.

Thanks so much for the advice, BDL.
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
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post #29 of 33
Oh geez! thanks everyone for this thread. I had just finished reading it and learned a thing or two about barbeque-ing...perhaps when hubby goes out somewhere i can start the barbeque too on my own, see around here, "it's THE man's job" to start the barbeque...:(I am sure it is just a few starters to light one but I have never been allowed to touch that barbeque...I am of the mind to have my own barbeque built or I'll build it myself if I have to so I can allow myself to touch it and cook in it as my mood takes me.

Yeah...that's a good idea. Thanks, guys!!!:bounce:
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post #30 of 33
Izzie,

Loved your post. Was a little threatened by it. Loved it all the same.

BDL
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