BBQ Smoked Pork Belly is the next big thing in low and slow barbecue. All of the luscious smoky flavor of good slow barbecued pork and dripping with finger lickin’ juiciness. Pork belly used to only be available as cured bacon or off of the whole hog, but nowadays it is easy to get your hands on a slab of the uncured stuff at most butchers (even Costco!)
I have played with pork belly before when curing my own bacon and making my famous pork belly baked beans. The meat to fat ratio in pork belly makes it ideal for both the quick cooking crisping (like in bacon) and the low and slow style of cooking to render the fat and tenderize all of the muscle. The direction I took with this particular BBQ smoked pork belly was to keep things as simple as possible and really maximize the natural flavor of the meat itself. I used a pork belly with the skin/rind removed, and I definitely recommend it. Having the rind removed will allow the smoke and flavor from the rub to better penetrate the meat. I bought my belly with the skin already removed, I’m sure your butcher would do this for you. Otherwise, you can remove it yourself with a sharp fillet knife.
The belly got a liberal dusting of my Sweet Rub and then hit my smoker (I used my pellet grill) at 225 degrees with apple wood. I kept spritzing with apple juice every hour to help deepen the color of the bark and keep things moist. Once the belly hit an internal temperature of 165 degrees, I wrapped the belly in foil with a little extra apple juice and cooked until the internal temperature reached 200 degrees. After that, the glorious belly came out of the foil cocoon and got a thin glaze of BBQ sauce before hitting the smoker for a few more minutes to tighten the sauce. The whole process took about 8 hours for a 4 pound belly, but as with any low and slow cook that can vary based on the thickness of your meat and temp swings in your grill. Always shoot to cook for internal temperature instead of time. I use my ThermoWorks thermometer to track the correct temperature while smoking and I love it! They are the industry standard for accuracy.
The options at this point are really endless. Shred for the juiciest pulled pork of your life. Cube and eat as much as you want, like tender and moist ribs without the bone. Chill completely and then slice into big pieces the next day for sandwiches, simply grill for a minute or two on high and get after it! Basically, you have entered the realm of meat heaven.
- Get your fire going in your smoker and preheat to 225 degrees F.
- Using a sharp knife, score the top layer of fat on the pork belly in 1 inch squares. Don't cut too deep, just barely into the muscle. Season liberally with the Sweet Rub on all sides.
- Place the seasoned pork belly on the grill and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F (about 6 hours). Spritz with the apple juice every hour while it is cooking.
- Once the belly reaches 165, remove from the grill and wrap in heavy duty tinfoil with 1/2 cup of the apple juice. Seal the edges of the foil completely and return to the grill until the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees.
- Carefully remove the belly from the foil and drizzle with the apple juices from the foil. Return the pork belly to the grill and brush with BBQ sauce. Cook on the grill for 10 more minutes.
- Remove the finished pork belly to a cutting board and let it rest for 10-15 more minutes before serving, You can shred like pulled pork or slice into cubes to serve.