Here is my latest experiment in the smoker. It is a dry-cured pork belly. Not exactly the healthiest thing in the world to eat, but chock full of porky deliciousness. :)
We bought a 1.25 lb. pork belly at a butcher's shop at our local farmer's market, and I decided to experiment with it and cure it myself, and put it on the smoker.
I wanted to try a dry cure without using a traditional cure. I decided to make my own dry cure and cured the pork belly for 4 days. Here are the ingredients to my cure:
Dry Cure Ingredients:
4 tbsp. Brown Sugar
2 tbsp. Vanilla Sea Salt
1 tbsp. Ground Black Pepper
1 tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 tsp. of Vietnamese Cinnamon
1 tsp. New Mexican Chili Pepper Powder
1 tsp. Garam MasalaDirections:
Mix all the ingredients together. Use about 1/2 of the mixture to cover the pork belly. Place the pork belly in a tightly sealed container (I used a casserole dish with a lid), and place in the refrigerator. Then leave it to cure for a minimum of 2 days. I cured it for 4 days.
After the curing process is complete, rinse off the pork belly with cold water. Pat it dry.
Sear the belly in a heavy pot or pan on a high heat on both sides until each side is a nice brown color. Take off the heat, and make a "beer bath" for your belly to soak in while cooking.
"Beer Bath" Recipe:
1 bottle of your favorite beer. I used a Canadian lager beer.
2c. Hot Water
1 tbsp. Chicken Base
1 tbsp. Beef Base
2 tbsp. Dried Thyme
Approx. 3-4 tbsp. of dry cure mix
Heat up your smoker/or oven to 325F. I used apple chips to add a nice smoky, apple flavor to the meat.
Mix the "bath" ingredients thoroughly in an aluminum pan, and place the pork belly in pan.
Place the pork belly with the skin side up on the smoker/oven unfoiled. Cook for 1 hour, and then flip the meat over and place aluminum foil tightly over the pan. Cook for another hour, and then flip meat over again. Take foil off. Cook for 1 more hour (it took me a total of about 3.5 hours to cook a 1.25 lb. pork belly).
Once the meat is thoroughly cooked (I did the fork test, if the fork easily goes into the meat and meat easily falls apart..it's done), take the pork belly out of the "beer bath" and wrap it tightly in aluminum foil. Wrap the foiled pork belly in a towel, and place in a cooler. Let the meat rest for 30-45 minutes and then serve.
Cut off the skin from the pork belly and cut it into 2-3" squares, and crisp it up in a skillet or pot (be very careful, the skin jumped up in the pot I was using and the hot oil splattered quite a bit). Cook the skin until it is a nice golden brown and is crispy.
As a side dish, I channeled my family's Burgenland, Austria roots (I'm a nice mix of Austrian-Hungarian, Croatian and Ukrainian), and made a homemade spaetzel to go with the pork belly.
The pork belly had a wonderful smoky, cinnamon, and apple aroma to it and was so tender. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!