Here’s what you’ll need to do:
1 pound of pork belly
1 1/2 teaspoons of Kosher salt (I omitted 1/2 a teaspoon of pink curing salt that adds the sodium nitrates and pink bacon colour)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons of 100% pure Maple syrup
1/4 cup water
This is your brine and you’ll leave your pork belly in that brine for 7 day. The bigger the belly, the longer you should brine it. For something a bit bigger don’t be afraid to brine it for up to 10 days even! Mix up the above until all of the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove the skin on your pork belly and put it into a large zip-top bag and pour the brine over the belly. Squeeze all of the air out of the bag and seal it up. Place the belly-in-the-bag into a bowl (just in case you spring a leak in the next week) and place it all into the fridge. Every day, take the bag and gently massage it so that the brine penetrates all of the belly. Flip the bag in the bowl and continue to do this until smoking day.
Fast forward a week and get yourself ready for some smokin’! Set up your smoker for indirect heat and stabilise at 225F – throw in a good helping of cherry wood (but don’t smoke duck right after – see my duck post on why…) Insert your thermometer and you’ll shoot for an internal temperature of 150F. This should take about 1.5 hours on a piece this size.
Once done, let the belly cool enough to wrap it tightly in cling wrap. Wrap it up and chuck it in the fridge. Cold pork belly is a lot easier to slice up than a warm/hot one. When you’re ready get a super sharp knife and with surgical precision, cut rashes from the belly, pulling the knife slowly towards you. Once done fry ’em up or wrap them tightly in cling film until you’re ready to fry them up. They’ll last in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or 3 months if you freeze them.
I’m looking forward to doing this recipe again with fresh pork belly from my good friend the pig lady at West Coast wet market (not the frozen belly as was the case this time around)
Overall Heather Rating: 10/10 – Overall Alex Rating 20/10