Barbecued pork bellly

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by grumio, Jan 22, 2010.

  1. grumio

    grumio

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    I had some barbecued pork belly at Fette Sau in NYC & it was ridiculously good. I intend to make some. After a bit of googling, my thought it just to slap a rub on it & barbecue it.

    Has anyone here done this before? Any tricks, tips, caveats, etc?

    NB: I mean barbecue in the several hours @ low temp with hardwood smoke sense. This was not Chinese style "barbecue pork," tasty as that stuff is.

    TIA
     
  2. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Low and slow; keep it in the 215 - 230 range. It's not terribly forgiving in that way.

    You'll need a large drip pan.

    Any pork rub that's on the sweet side will do well.

    Pork belly is a good choice for more "creative" rubs using things like cocoa powder, coffee, and so on. If it's good on bacon, it's good on belly. And, what isn't good on bacon?

    My first choice for rubbing a belly is a sweet, "normal" pork rub, combined with a 50/50 mix of freshly toasted and ground fennell and coriander seeds, at a ratio of about 2 parts "normal" to 1 part fennell/coriander. The overall affect is of Italian/BBQ fusion. (Props to Michael Chiarello for the inspiration, btw.) We've used this rub successfully for all sorts of pork barbecue, including ribs, butt and belly.

    For smoking woods, hickory is very characterstic of Southern pork barbecue. If that's what you're going for, it's a good choice. Oak is OK, but just OK -- at least on its own. Mesquite too strong. Any of the medium strength fruit and nut woods are good choices. My first choices (in no particular order) would be oak/cherry (very Euro), pecan/pear or pecan/peach; or straight apple.

    It's going to be a tender product anyway, but if you're looking for exquisite tenderness -- wrap. Wrap at around 150F with a little juice, beer, wine, cognac or rum in the packet.

    You'll have to be careful about your pull temp to avoid "tooth" and "mush." The proper internal is within a degree or two of 190F. Over 195 and stuff starts to fall apart too easily; while anything under 185 has a little too much character.

    Outside of smoking, I'm more of a touch tester than a thermometer guy. But for low, slow and large -- for heaven's sake, use a thermometer. If you don't already have both good pit and meat thermometers, get a Maverick "Redi-Chek" ET-73. And, ASAP at that. Not the ET-7, ET-71 or anything else; the ET-73. It's got a wireless remote read for both chamber temp and meat internal, good to about 60' that makes smoking sooooooooooo much easier.

    On the other hand, if you can afford it, a properly accessorized "BBQ Guru" is even better.

    Boy? You payin' attention, boy? Don't make me take this belt off.

    Hope this helps,
    BDL
     
  3. chalkdust

    chalkdust

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    wow.

    when wrapping meat for barbecuing, does the smoke penetrate the wrap?
     
  4. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    No. The "wrap" is almost always aluminum foil, or a (disposable or easily cleaned) pan covered with foil.

    You can divide barbecue pits into two sorts. Those that burn hardwood logs for heat and smoke are called "stick burners." Then there are the other sort named according to their preferred fuel (gassers, charcoal-burners, 'lectrics, etc.) which use some other fuel for heat, whether (duh) charcoal, gas, electric, or something else for heat, and which burn pellets, hardwood sawdust, or hardwood chunks for smoke.

    Of course, there are other ways to name pits. By their shapes for instance, yielding names like offsets, pipes, cabinets, and so on.

    For what it's worth, anything with a large enough fire box can be a stick-burner. Most stick-burners are (built in) brick pits or they're offsets. Any stick-burner can also be a charcoal burner. Of those offsets which are too small to burn sticks effectively, most are charcoal-burners -- as opposed to gas or electric.

    Before people jump in with stories of how they went all stick in their Silver Smokers or little Brinmanns, let me add that you absolutely can go all stick in a small offset. However, in addition to requiring constant tending, they're also very susceptible to imparting tastes from wood (which, for lack of age, moisture, mold, pitch, etc., might have been less than an optimal).

    As it happens, my offset, a Bar B Chef which was too small to have been a good stick-burner, was converted from charcoal to run a gas fired "Afterburner-H."

    All of which gets us to the following: With the 'cues which aren't stick-burners, the pitmaster often stops making hardwood smoke somewhere around halfway through the process, as the meat has absorbed all of the smoke which it can profitably handle, anyway.

    It's not only a matter of efficiency and economy, but avoids "over-smoking" as well.

    Wrapping meat near the end of the cook will not cause it to be "under-smoked," if that's your concern.

    Some cooks believe that it negatively impacts the "bark." Others believe that it has a tendency to over-tenderize the meat. Still others think that it's insufficiently orthodox. Indeed, I've heard barbecue celebrity purists say, "wrapping is braising and braising ain't barbecue."

    The reality is if you're serious about barbecue competitions, you've simply got to wrap. Comp seems like a digression, and it definitely shouldn't be the be all and end all for home barbecuers. Let's just say that the crucible of competition settled any questions about the utility of wrapping once and for all.

    Those cooks who wrap, but also want a dry bark, usually open the pack for the last hour or so (which would allow something around a 10F increase for a 10# butt, cooking at 225F), to allow drier heat to get to the surface.

    In my opinion, that's unnecessary with pork belly. It should be finished and served moist -- along with the "braising liquid" from the wrapped packet or pan.

    Does this sufficiently address your question?
    BDL
     
  5. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    10 F? Must be freezer burned pork butt.
     
  6. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Is that the aroma of pulled leg? Oh well, just in case:

    That's a 10F delta. In other words if a 10# butt is at an internal of 185F (the stall ended), in a 225F pit, the 10F change to 195F will take about an hour.

    These sorts of predictions are tricky and the lower the temperature the more tricky they get. Fortunately, most 'q can rest for a long time in an appropriately prepared container. So, it's a good idea to add plenty of rest time to the time estimates you find in smoking recipes to prevent late-service surprises.

    BDL
     
  7. chefray

    chefray

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    My favorite, if I'm mixing woods, is Oak/Hickory/Pecan. A close second is Peach/Apple/Plum/ and a little mesquite because it brings on a bark that the fruit woods don't bring to the party.
     
  8. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Those certainly sound like great smoke wood combinations. I can't recall using the particular combination of peach/apple/plum, but imagine it would be great.

    I don't think you'd want any bark to speak of on a belly, would you?

    The reason I suggested avoiding hickory for belly isn't because it doesn't go well, but because it's such a cliche. Like mesquite, no matter you can moderate it with a combination, but unless you use something stronger, it's going to leave its distinctive signature. Great if that's what you want.

    With oak and hickory I go one way or the other, and don't combine them. I also find that mesquite works with oak, but not hickory; and if you're going to use hickory in a combination, it should be the "lead" wood and the other players should be medium to mild.

    It's just a matter of personal taste and I've certainly eaten excellent barbecue cooked over combinations I wouldn't use myself.

    Of course, the age and type of wood (lump, pellet, chips, dust, etc.) has a lot to do with what works, as do proportions. When it comes to a lot of woods, availability plays a big part as well.

    And as always with 'q -- more so than with any other type of cooking -- things can be so very equipment dependent. Things which work in some cookers either don't work at all in others, or are simply too much trouble to get right.

    BDL
     
  9. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Down here in southeast Georgia it's pecan wood that's used widely for bbq.

    And at some point during the cooking process, almost everyone foils the meat.
     
  10. chalkdust

    chalkdust

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    yes, that is an excellent response. this is knowledge that will be passed down for generations

    to clarify soem concepts:

    If smoking, smoke first. (or cook first if not smoking) in the pit, then wrap. then unwrap later if desired to regulate the bark or moisture?

    and if not smoking. you can wrap the whole time. or wrap first and then unwrap to make the bark?



    whats the deal with wrapping in banana leaves?

    At a restaurant I used to help at, the barbeque guys would be smoking outside in a pit or bringing in form our barbeque mans place of work. and then putting wraps in the oven to finish I always wondered what was going on., they seemed to be putting sauce in with the wraps...

    Thank you brother BDL
     
  11. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Smoke first. Smoke's effects take place when the meat's temperature is less than 145F. And as with stovetop cooking, 'brown'/smoke the meat first, then foil later on.
     
  12. chalkdust

    chalkdust

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    thank you brother kokopuffs
     
  13. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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  14. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I just looked up this place Fette Sau. Can't wait to go there!
     
  15. chefray

    chefray

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    I actually forgot that we were discussing belly specifically. Bark there wouldn't be very pleasing to the palette. I use that blend more for a shoulder or butt, maybe ribs, but never a belly or tenderloin. Too much texture from a bark for such tender cuts.
     
  16. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Chef, I've said it before... we think along very similar culinary lines. So much so, I'm starting to get suspicous. Has anyone seen us in the same room at the same time?

    BDL
     
  17. chefray

    chefray

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    Not yet. :smokin
     
  18. grumio

    grumio

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    Thanks for all the responses, esp. specific temperatures.

    I was quite impressed with Fette Sau, & I'm pretty critical when it comes to Q. I didn't care for their boneless beef ribs, but everything else ranged from quite good to top-drawer - esp. the pork belly, which, IIRC, did have some bark. Oh- and lamb ribs. Out of this world.

    I'm going to use a rub I used on ribs last summer & liked a lot - white peppercorn, szechuan pepper & coriander. Wood will probably be hickory, but I'm keen to get hold of some other woods, & it seems like that shouldn't be that hard in southern CA - there's plenty of fruit trees around. (anyone ever use citrus wood? I've never heard of it being used. Grape is supposed to be good...) Anyway, any ideas on hardwood sources would be welcome.

    I do my Q in a Weber kettle, which isn't ideal, but I have learned to make it work. I can keep it at ~250f for 6-8 hours, & have had terrific results with ribs & butt. As for a thermometer, I recently got a Thermapen, & that pretty much ate up my temperature-measuring-device budget for the time being.

    I don't know when I'm going to get around to giving this a whirl - soon, I hope - but when I do, I'll post results.
     
  19. oldpro

    oldpro

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    I am curious also if any one has ever used citrus wood for smoking. It looks like the recent freeze in Texas might have knocked out our citrus trees. We had orange, lemon, grapefruit, and lime trees. They look pretty sad right now.
     
  20. dillonsmimi

    dillonsmimi

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    LOL...you guys were so OT. I enjoyed the lurk, tho.