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5 Tips for Killer Pork Belly

I would argue that barbecuing pork belly is the best way transform this already delicious cut of meat into the most succulent, mouth-watering treat. It’s affectionately referred to as meat candy. The key to achieving that perfect balance of crispy and tender pork belly lies in understanding a few crucial techniques. Here are six expert tips to help you kick butt the next time you’re barbecuing pork belly:

Tip #1 - Select the Right Cut

Choosing the right pork belly when you’re looking around the meat isle is foundational. Look for cuts with a good balance between fat and meat. This ratio plays a crucial role in ensuring that the pork belly remains moist and flavorful throughout the cooking process. A thick layer of fat will not only add flavor but also prevent the meat from drying out.

Tip #2 - Opt for Larger Pieces

When preparing your pork belly for the grill, resist the temptation to cut it into tiny cubes. Instead, cut the pork belly into larger cubes or cook the whole slab. 2”-3” cubes are great. Larger pieces retain their juices better and allow for a more even distribution of heat, which is vital for cooking the meat thoroughly without drying it out.

Tip #3 - Season Generously

Don’t hold back on seasoning. Generous amounts of your favorite pork and all-purpose rubs can enhance the natural flavors of the pork. However, be cautious with sugar-based seasonings as sugar can burn easily, potentially ruining the beautiful crust you’re aiming for. Consider applying sugar-containing marinades or rubs later in the cooking process if desired.

Tip #4 - Cook Low and Slow

The magic of pork belly comes alive with low and slow cooking. Maintain your grill’s temperature below 300°F (I like the 225-250 range). This gentle cooking method allows the fat to render slowly, infusing the meat with rich flavors and creating a tender texture that melts in your mouth. Patience is your friend here; rush the process, and you risk tough, chewy or even burnt pork.

Tip #5 - Glaze or Sauce Towards the End

Applying a glaze or sauce too early in the cooking process can lead to burning and a bitter taste. Instead, wait until the last 20-30 minutes of cooking to brush on your favorite glaze. This timing allows the sauce to caramelize perfectly, adding a deliciously sticky, sweet layer to the final product without overpowering the meat’s natural flavors.

BONUS TIP - Let it Rest

Once off the grill, give your pork belly time to rest before slicing into it. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring that each bite is as juicy and flavorful as possible. I usually let mine rest about 20 minutes.

By incorporating these tips into your barbecuing routine, you’re well on your way to serving up a pork belly that’s both irresistibly crispy and delightfully tender. Let us know if you try any of these tips or if you have some tips of your own you’d like to share!!

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