We love pork belly. As burnt ends, porchetta or simply as a paste on the burger. This time we wanted to pull it. To get meat to the point you can pull it, you need to cook it low and slow, and the meat needs some fat. Pork belly is undoubtedly fat enough.
And because there is enough fat in it, we don’t go for low and slow, but for hot and fast. We cook this pulled pork belly at 150°C (302F). Still not very hot, but still a lot hotter than the 100 to 120°C (212 to 248F) we usually go for.
Just buy ordinary pork belly. Don’t go for the fancy cuts like Iberico or other beautiful cuts of meat. In this case, it’s a waste of money, and usually, there is too much fat ratio in the meat. You want at least an equal percentage of fat and meat. Maybe even a little less fat.
This recipe gets an Asian twist simply because these flavours go great with pork. And because we like a little spice. The marinade is made with two generous tablespoons of sambal and two teaspoons of chilli oil. That seems a lot, but that it’s not too bad. During low and slow cooking, the heat levels off considerably. If you are a bit more anxious, you can safely put in a little less. It remains a good sandwich.
After marinating, we sprinkle the pork belly with a dry rub. The rub contains a lot of sugar because sweet and pork are such a nice combination. The rub also contains ginger for the extra Asian taste. This puled bacon will be a great combination of salt, sweet and heat.
We have prepared our Kamado Joe Classic 3 for indirect cooking. In the divide and conquer system, we first place the accessory rack with the platesetters in the lowest position. We put a roasting tin with water on it. Then we set the grates in the top position.
The roasting pan with water catches the fat that drips from the pork belly. If this fat ends up on your plate setter, it will burn and smell. You always notice that too late, and then the neighbours start to complain. Then you say we didn’t warn you, and then it’s our fault.
After about 3 hours, the meat has seen enough smoke, and the dry rub has stuck. That’s when you wrap the pork belly in aluminium foil. Before you pack the meat tightly, you take a quick taste. Just to try it. Call it pitmaster privilege.
In this phase, we insert a thermometer into the meat to monitor the core temperature. We aim for a core temperature of around 96°C (205F). But what’s more important is the tenderness of the meat. You can quickly check this by inserting a probe from your thermometer through the foil. If the probe passes through the meat with ease, you know that the pork belly is tender.
Do not unwrap the pork belly just yet, but put an extra piece of foil over it and then put the package in a cooler to rest. The longer you can keep it in the cooler, the better. You don’t have to worry that the meat will get cold. It stays warm for hours this way.
After resting, you can pull the pork belly. You can do this easily with two forks. You can also do it with your bare hands, but trust us that the meat is still too hot.
This is the moment, you can proudly show everyone the smoke ring in the meat. After that, you have to explain that the meat is not raw. The pink colour is a reaction between nitric oxide and carbon monoxide with the myoglobin in the meat. Even without this smoke ring, you will have a smoky taste, but this just looks nicer.
You can top this sandwich with anything you want. It’s yours. We make it a kind of Báhn Mì by adding carrot and cucumber. We used fresh mint instead of cilantro. Together with the jalapeño pepper and the sauce, this is a complete sandwich.
This pulled pork belly sandwich is fantastic. Try the recipe and let us know how you like it. Or better! Take a photo and post it on Instagram. Tag @bbq.heroes and @kamadojoe so we can see what you made.
- 1 kilo pork belly without rind
For the marinade
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp sambal manis
- 2 tsp chilli oil
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 3 balls of stem ginger
For the dry rub
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp ginger
- 1 tbsp onion granulate
- 1/2 tbsp garlic granulate
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
For the sauce
- 200 ml of ketchup
- 1 clove of garlic grated
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 30 ml apple cider vinegar
- 1 ball of stem ginger grated
- 2 tsp sambal
- Julienne cut sweet and sour carrots
- Fresh mint
- Cut the fat side of the meat crosswise with a sharp knife.
- Mix the ingredients of the marinade and pour it into a ziplock bag. Add the pork belly and squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible before closing it.
- Knead the marinade and put the bag in the refrigerator for 2 days.
- After 2 days, remove the pork belly from the marinade and pat it dry with some paper towel. Mix everything for the dry rub and sprinkle an even layer over all sides of the pork belly.
- Prepare a barbecue with an indirect temperature of 150°C (302F) and a block of smoke wood. Place the pork belly on the grates and close the lid.
- After about 3 hours, the meat has nice smoke colour, and the bark has set. Then we wrap the pork belly in aluminium foil and put it back on the barbecue.
- Insert a thermometer into the meat and close the lid.
- In the meantime, you can make the sauce by throwing all the ingredients into a pan and bringing it to a gentle boil. If thick bubbles form, remove the sauce from the heat.
- When the pork belly has reached a core temperature of 96°C (205F), check the tenderness with the probe of your thermometer. If the meat is to your liking, you can wrap it with an extra layer of aluminium foil and let it rest for at least half an hour.
- Pull the bacon apart with two forks and top a sandwich with the pulled bacon, the sauce and whatever you like.