I am back with a vengeance after my mini hiatus! To be fair my company was acquired by another, my daughter got married, and it was a long and cold winter. But forget all the personal life stuff… let’s talk food! I have always wanted to cook Pork Belly but felt intimidated. This is not a cut of meat you see a lot of folks cooking in their backyards. I see the occasional post about homemade bacon (which is on my list to do) but have yet to see anyone tackle pork belly the way I would order it in a restaurant. So, after looking around I found a recipe for a Hawaiian glaze used in traditional Kalua style cooking on another food blog site Tasting Table that I wanted to use. I coupled this with a common smoking approach on the Big Green Egg and this recipe was born. I did learn a good lesson about cooking Pork Belly through this experience, which is if you want that really moist fall apart Pork Belly bite, you should braise it first. This dish was amazing as described below but ate more like a super delicious Pork Tenderloin. So, braising is something I will do the next time (or you can add in to this recipe – I will tell you where below). Now sit back, grab an ice cold Kona Big Wave, and enjoy this post for Smoked Kalua Pork Belly.
Smoked Kalua Pork Belly
The glaze has a lot going on but as I said well worth your effort. You first start out by making Dark Chicken Stock as the base for this glaze. Dark chicken stock uses charred chicken bones and browned vegetables to get that dark and rich flavor to the stock. Here I cooked some chicken wings over direct heat at 400° until they were charred.
Next I took a classic mirepoix and browned the vegetables. From there I added the chicken wings, regular chicken stock, and brought to a rolling boil.
As the dark chicken stock simmered I prepared the ingredients (sugar, mirin, soy sauce, garlic, cinnamon, fennel, star anise, and ginger) for my glaze.
I set the stock in the freezer to cool and mixed the glaze ingredients together and brought them to a simmer. Once done I added the cooled stock to the rest of the ingredients and let come to room temp.
I found a nice 4lbs. piece of Pork Belly and trimmed the excess fat before placing in marinade overnight.
I poured the marinade over the pork belly in a large baking dish. I placed this in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.
Note: If I were to braise the meat first I would have left the pork belly in the marinade, covered this dish, and cooked for 4-5 hours before finishing off on the BGE. But I didn’t…
After 24 hours I took the pork belly out of the marinade and let it come to room temperature.
I strained the marinade and placed in a pot over medium heat until it reduced down to a thick glaze.
I set the BGE up for indirect cooking using a ConvEGGerator, drip pan (with water), and chunks of apple wood for the smoke. I preheated the BGE to 225° and placed the pork belly in skin side up.
After 3 hours I started to mop the glaze on the pork belly to get that think lacquer. Once the pork belly hit 160° internal temp I pulled it and let it rest while I set the BGE up for direct cooking. I then placed the pork belly skin side down and let it cook over direct heat for 2-5 minutes.
To serve, I let the pork belly rest for 10 minutes and then sliced in to 1 x 2 inch pieces. Paired with some Hawaiian rice Mrs. Buddha made, this meal was fantastic!
- For the Dark Chicken Stock:
- 1½ pounds chicken wings
- 1 teaspoons olive oil
- ¼ yellow onion, quartered
- ½ cup chopped carrot (1 medium carrot)
- ½ cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
- 2 quarts low-sodium chicken stock
- For the Marinade:
- ½ cups + 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- ½ cups + 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ½ tablespoon fennel seeds
- 6 pieces whole star anise pods
- 2 tablespoons sliced ginger
- ½ tablespoon liquid smoke
- 5 cups dark chicken stock
- 4 pounds skin-on pork belly
- For Garnish:
- 1½ tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- ¼ cup thinly sliced scallion
- Make the dark chicken stock: Preheat the oven to 425° and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the chicken wings onto the baking sheet and roast until the skin is blistered and dark brown, 1 to 1½ hours.
- While chicken is roasting, brown your vegetables: In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion, carrot and celery. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften and brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the roasted chicken wings and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until you have 5 cups, about 1 hour.
- Prepare a large ice bath. Strain your stock, discarding the meat and vegetables, and chill in a large bowl set over the prepared ice bath.
- Marinate the pork belly: In a large pot over medium heat, combine all the marinade ingredients except for the dark chicken stock and pork belly. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir the liquid into the chilled dark chicken stock. Transfer the pork belly to a large, deep baking dish, then add the marinade. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator to marinate for 12 to 24 hours.
- Remove pork belly and allow to come to room temperature while preparing the BGE.
- Preheat the BGE to 225° using indirect heat, add chunks of apple wood when at temperature.
- When the BGE is producing that blue smoke, place the pork in, skin side up, and smoke until pork registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the belly, about 4 to 5 hours.
- Place pork belly on a medium hot grill, skin side down and cook until skin is crisp.
- Remove to a cutting board, let rest for 10 to 15 minutes, then slice and serve.