Pork Belly - Now What?

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Master of the Pit
Original poster
OTBS Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
May 7, 2017
Northern Arkansas-Banjo Land
Found some pork belly at my local grocery store. Never seen it before. So, I bought 2.

Some questions for you guys and gals:

How should I cook it?

Homemade bacon?

Smoke it like baby back ribs?

Whats my options here?

Banjo man out.

Never made bacon but do smoke them like ribs to slice and love pork belly burnt ends! Just did some a couple of weeks ago for DIL's birthday.

That IS unusual, especially for the regular grocery stores around here...the big chains. There's a couple old school and country grocery stores in my area you might find a whole pork belly cut like that. The one place I can count on finding it, as well as ground pork which is also not found in most chain groceries around here, is the Oriental Market...yes they call themselves an "Oriental" market.

I love bacon with the fat all rendered down but not a fan of super fatty cuts of meat in general...at least not the fat part, I tend to cut most of that off before eating it. Not that I'm worried health-wise, I just dont like eating a lot of from a taste and texture thing. I'm one of those guys that doesn't like cracklings because the fat is nasty to me!

Love to see what you decide to do!
Burnt ends are wonderful! Just make sure they’re smoked long enough to render the fat
I usually do bacon when I pick up belly like that. There's always some trimmings so the wife and I will do Hong Shao Rou or red braised pork. We've cooked them up like ribs before too. I've made salt pork with some parts of it too, though we don't cook much that uses salt pork.
Possibilities are endless. Bacon of course, and the burnt ends are always a winner. At 6 lbs I'd probably do bacon, but there are a ton of Asian inspired things you could do with a piece. My Kroger has Duroc belly that they sell by the piece, usually about a pound or so that makes for easy cookin' like a simple Char Siu.
Pork Belly Tacos gets my vote!

Several ways to go about seasoning it for tacos.
and it can be used for many other things afterwards, e.g. chile, pozole, rice, beans and more.

After cooking the whole belly, you could even cut half of it into large 2" cubes and make Mexican Flavored Burnt Ends.

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I love belly burnt ends but these were pretty premo.

I called them boneless belly ribs. I smoked the belly with a good rub, then I sliced it into slabs that somewhat resemble a rib, added more rub to the cut sides, smoked them some more, then glazed the top and let some sauce set for the last 30-45 mins.

If I ONLY had 2 bellies, I wouldn't bother with bacon on one of them. Why? Because then you'll be buying bellies left and right and making your own bacon for the rest of your life. I will eat store bought bacon now, but I feel dirty and cheap every time now. Homemade really is that much better ;)
It'll spoil you lol

PBBEs are incredibly good though...

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I have been doing different cures on pork belly for years now. One of my favorites is a maple bourbon cure. Cut a section of the belly to fit into a gallon zip lock baggie. Put into bag. Lightly sprinkle Kosher salt into bag and rub. One shot of a good bourbon and one shot of real maple syrup. Rub again. Seal bag and place in fridge. Once per day, rub the bagged belly and flip for 5-7 days. Remove and pat dry. Smoke with your fav wood and take the belly to 140°. Remove and rest in a blankie for a day in a cooler. Slice and fry. Enjoy. I never use pink salt as it alters the flavor and color. Bacon should not be red in color. White meat and the fat renders clear. I have more cures that I do without the icky pink salt.
No cure salt then it’s not bacon. It’s belly. Both are fine but each their own.
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