When you are cooking pork belly the most important thing to get right is a good crackling, followed by beautifully succulent and tender meat with the awesome flavour that pork belly gives. The techniques in this recipe, adapted from one by Marcus Bawdon of Country Wood Smoke but in a more traditional style, gives you the best of all three.
After a few days of traditional American style barbecuing, I decided to play with something far more British: your traditional roast dinner – but with a bit of a difference. I wanted to compliment the cook with that beautiful smokey flavour you can only get over charcoal, with a few apples chunks thrown in.
The plan was to cook the pork skin side down for 30-40 minutes until it began to crackle; then throw it onto a dish of veg before smoking it around 160C for a couple of hours until the meat was tender enough to allow my thermapen to pass through like a warm knife through butter.
Alongside the pork belly, I threw together some roast new potatoes, pan fried leeks, a smoked apple purée and a sauce made from the caramelised vegetables cooked with the pork.
pork belly: serves 2
in the roasting dish:
4 garlic cloves
20g butter/olive oil
for the sauce:
300ml vegetable stock
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp red currant jelly
The night before, take the pork out of it’s wrapping, score the skin, don’t pierce the layer of fat, and leave uncovered in the fridge overnight to dry out. The dryer the skin the better the crackling.
Light up the bbq and bring it to 160C. I decided to put one of the deflector plates in the Joe to give me a little flexibility with direct/indirect cooking – with a little help from my son.
Season the skin with salt and pepper, rubbing it down into the score lines.
When the BBQ is up to temperature, lay your pork skin side down on the grill. Around 8-10 inches from the coals. I added a few chunks of apple wood.
Be careful not to burn it in this time.
Meanwhile, roughly chop your vegetables and apple and throw them into a roasting dish, add the butter and season with salt and pepper.
After 30-40 minutes, when the skin on the pork has started to crackle, take it off the grill and lay it skin side up on the roasting dish.
Place the dish back on the grill until the pork is perfectly tender. Around 2 hours.
30 minutes in – vegetables are just beginning to caramelise.
When your thermapen/skewer/knife passes through the meat with no resistance take it off and rest for at least 10 minutes.
While your pork is resting take half the caramelised vegetables, add the ingredients for the sauce and blend.
Once everything is ready and the pork is nicely rested, cut into even slices and serve.
The pork was served with roast new potatoes, pan fried leeks, a smoked apple purée and the sauce from the caramelised vegetables.