Crispy Pork Belly has amazing flavor and texture. Kick up the wow factor by adding smoke flavor and an awesome sweet and savory sauce at the end. Learn the secrets of Smoked Pork Belly with a finish over hot coals to get it crispy.
What is Pork Belly
Pork belly is an incredibly marbled cut of meat that comes from the belly of the pig. But by belly, it’s the muscle that is just under the skin and just overlaps with the spare ribs. It’s not in fact, the actual belly or organ. Pork belly has a great ratio of 50% lean muscle and 50% fat, which when cooked property turns into a ton of flavor.
Pork Belly is most known for bacon (and we all love bacon!). But uncured belly can be used for a whole lot of awesome dishes, like our pork belly burnt ends recipe.
You can buy pork belly as a full slab, typically 8 – 12 pounds slabs of belly with the skin on, or off. Or you can purchase in smaller strips. This pork belly recipe is for a skin off slab and using Snake River Farms Kurobuta pork belly.
How to Cook Pork Belly on the Grill
We are going to use a reverse sear technique for this, which is to smoke first, and then finish over a high heat grill (to get crispy). This is how to make crispy pork belly on the grill. The smoke process adds incredible flavor and gently and slowly renders out a lot of the fat and the grilling process crisps it up.
Add a hoisin and soy based glaze at the end to knock the flavor out of the park.
Trimming Pork Belly
Whether the whole slab or a smaller cut, it’s important to trim the pork belly prior to cooking it. One side of the pork belly will have a large fat cap, and the other side will have the muscle.
- Using a paper towel, remove excess moisture.
- If a full slab cut in half to make two equal weight slabs.
- Using a sharp knife, carefully trim the fat cap so that the fat cap is even along the top of the belly. Often you will see thicker fat pockets, and the key is to even it out as best as possible.
- Score with large X’s along the fat side.
- Place the pork belly fat side down, remove any excess silver skin from the muscle side.
- The last step is to leave the pork belly fat side down and carefully slice vertical strips into the muscle side of the belly about 2/3rds of the way through the meat. You are not cutting all the way through.
- Making the vertical cuts does two things: it allows more surface area for the rub and smoke to get flavor into. It also provides more open surface area for the fat to render out from the belly. In doing this, it minimizes potential flare ups that can occur when direct grilling the pork belly and allows for a nice crispy pork belly finish (not burnt).
* Use food safe gloves when handling raw meat, or be sure to wash your hands often. 🙂
How to Smoke Pork Belly
Pork belly is best smoked at 250 degrees Fahrenheit (F). Smoke the belly for 2 to 3 hours or until the internal temperature of the pork belly approaches 200 degrees F.
The smoke flavor will infuse with the pork belly and slowly render out excess fat. The rub will also slightly caramelize for added flavor. At 180 – 200 degrees that is where much of the soft texture develops because the fat has rendered to a point where you get the soft bite.
How to Cook Crispy Pork Belly
- Once the internal temperature of the pork belly reaches 200 degrees, remove the pork belly from the smoker and place on a sheet tray.
- Now set up the smoker or grill for direct heat, with a target temperature of 450 – 500 degrees. Place the pork belly back onto the grill fat side UP first over direct grilling. Because the pork belly texture is exactly where we want it, all we’re doing now is adding a sear to the belly.
- Grill for 3 – 4 minutes or until their is a nice sear. Flip the pork belly fat side down and over direct heat again. Close the grill to minimize flare ups and check the pork belly at 2 minutes. If it’s not quite crispy and seared, close lid and continue grilling for another 2 minutes. Remove when you see a nice sear.
The fat is going to get crispy from the direct heat, but there is a small range from when it goes from crispy to burnt, so monitoring the fat side grilling is really important because as the fat drips down into the coals, it can cause flames to flare up, which can burn meat.
Best Wood to Use
Pork of any kind is great with fruit wood. We use apple and cherry for pork belly to give a sweeter flavor infused by the wood.
Because we’re grilling the pork belly at a high heat to finish, we’re waiting until the end to glaze it, otherwise we risk burning the sweet sauce.
For our finishing glazing sauce we’re using a combination of hoisin sauce, Thai chili, lime juice, and graded fresh ginger. Combine those ingredients in a bowl, and then glaze the pork belly as soon as you remove it from the grill, while it’s still hot, and it will caramelize onto the tender meat.
Crispy Pork Belly Recipe On the Grill
Grilled Crispy Pork Belly
- 1/2 cup Hoisin Sauce
- 2 tablespoons Thai sweet red chili sauce
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime
- 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- Preheat smoker to 275 degrees Fahrenheit (F) using apple or cherry wood.
- Trim excess fat off of pork belly so it is uniform in shape and no excess fat or meat is hanging off the belly. Place pork belly fat/skin side down on the board so flesh is facing you.
- Make 1-inch vertical slices in the pork belly, taking care not to cut all the way through. Cut about 2/3's through the flesh.
- Coat both sides of the pork belly with olive oil and the dry rub. Rub the dry rub into the ridges created by the vertical slices.
- Place into the smoker and smoke for 2 hours or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 200 degrees F using an instant read thermometer. When the probe goes into the belly it should slide in easily. That is when you remove from the smoker.
- Prepare the grill for direct grilling, targeting 450 – 500 degrees F over the flame. Place the pork belly over direct heat and grill each side for 2 minutes. Be sure to close the lid between flipping to avoid too much air causing flare ups, the fat from the belly will drip into the flame.
- Remove the belly from the grill and finish slicing the vertical slices. Apply sauce and serve as small long strips for a meal, or cut into cubes for an appetizer.
For the Sauce
- In a medium size bowl, combine Hoisin sauce, Thai chili sauce, lime juice, and graded fresh ginger. Stir to incorporate.
More Smoked and Grilled Pork Recipes
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