Belly pork is so under-rated and for the life of me I can’t see why. Yes I agree it does contain a lot of fat but at the end of the day fat is flavor and pork does need to have some flavor to it. To top it all off, belly pork is so cheap although you may have to go to your butcher rather than the supermarket. Maybe the supermarket will start to stock it once the word get round about how good this cut of the pig really is?
My recipe suggestion for this article is going to involve slow cooking in the smoker over a water bath followed by a light grilling to crisp up the skin for the most perfect crackling. You’re going to love it!
Before I go any further I have to give full credit to Raymond Blanc a French chef who I saw doing something similar in his Oxfordshire kitchen (albeit a lot more elaborate) and it was whilst watching him that I thought this would appeal to the outdoor cooking enthusiast so I just had to make an adaptation.
The flavor for this pork belly comes a wonderful mix of spices and herbs from the Far East and they are coated onto the belly pork. Here’s the mix
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised, halved length-ways, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
¼ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch cube fresh ginger, peeled, chopped
2 red chillies, seeds and pith removed, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
There’s enough mix to cover about 1kg of belly pork so apply the spice mix to the belly pork and rub it in on the flesh side before covering with stretch wrap. Put the pork in the refrigerator overnight to allow for the spices to work their magic. (If you can’t wait for overnight then you can shorten this marinade time to two or three hours but the longer the better.
The next morning it’s time to place the pork in the smoker for three hours at 110°C or 225°F skin side up with a water bath underneath. Make sure that you pre-warm the water and don’t be tempted to put any wood chips on the fire, moist indirect cooking is enough for this recipe, there’ll be flavor subtly added by using a smoker (rather than an oven) and this recipe doesn’t need anything else..
When the three hours is up remove the side of belly pork from the smoker, turn it over so that it’s skin side down and slap it on the grill to cook until the skin goes lovely and crisp which should take about 15 minutes over high heat.
This is not a dish for delicate slices, it’s about cutting up into nice thick portions. I like to serve my belly pork on a bed of leaves, place the pork hunk on top (skin side up so that the crackled skin is on view) and then pour over a sprinkling of soy sauce and sesame oil just to add a nice sheen to the crackling and to lift the flavor further.