Pork belly is the current "It" ingredient at restaurants. (Replacing short ribs, I think.) Why? When cooked long and slow, it is a wicked combination of pork meat and melting pork fat. Never heard of it? Sure you have. Cured pork belly is commonly referred to as bacon. Who doesn't like bacon? Chefs know that; they love bacon as much as everyone else. A good chef uses pork belly as a canvas for all his technique, and the diner gets the deliciousness of high-end bacon. It's a win-win situation.
Pork belly, in spite of its popularity in restaurants, is hard to find in grocery stores. I wanted to try it on my rotisserie, but I could not find it in my local stores. (And I wasn't organized enough to special order it.) Then, I got lucky. I found pork belly in the meat case of my local Asian market. I bought it immediately. And? Pork belly cooked on the rotisserie has crackling skin, covering layers of luscious fat and tender meat.
*Pork belly needs long, slow cooking. For good results, most of the fat has to melt out. Again, think of bacon. Undercooked bacon is all chewy fat. Perfectly cooked bacon has a balance of fat, tender meat, and crunch. That's what we're looking for with pork belly.
How did pork belly go over with the kids? I was a little worried; pork belly seemed like a name that would turn them off. But, when I brought the spit in from the grill, I was surrounded. "What's that, Dad?" (I think they were drawn in by the heavenly smell.) I gave everyone a sample. Natalie kept coming back, asking for more. No, I told her, not until dinner. "Pork belly, Pork belly, Pork belly" she started chanting, dancing in circles around the room. I couldn't help myself - she got her second taste.
Cook time: 3 hours
- Grill with Rotisserie attachment (I used a Weber Summit with an infrared rotisserie burner. Here is the current version of my grill.)
- Aluminum foil drip pan (9"x12", or whatever fits your grill)
- Butcher's twine
- 1.5 pound pork belly (1 ½" thick - thicker is better)
- 2 quarts water
- ½ cup table salt (1 cup kosher salt)
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
1. Brine the pork belly: Score the skin side of the pork belly in a crosshatch pattern, spaced 1 inch apart, cutting through the skin and into the fat, but not into the meat. Dissolve the salt and brown sugar in the water, then add the pork belly and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours.
2. Prepare the grill: Set the grill up for rotisserie cooking at high heat. For my Weber Summit, this means removing the grates, turning the two outer burners (burners 1 and 6) to high, and turning the infrared burner to high. Then I put my drip pan in the middle, over the unlit burners, and let the grill preheat for ten to fifteen minutes. (See My Rotisserie Basic Technique Post for more rotisserie setup details.)
3. Skewer the pork belly: While the grill is pre-heating, skewer the pork belly on the rotisserie spit. Aim for center mass, skewer the belly lengthwise, and secure it with the spit forks.
|Scored and skewered
(see the variations for the herb rub on the right hand piece of belly)
4. Cook the pork belly: Put the spit on the rotisserie, and cook with the lid closed. Cook on high (500*F or higher) for a half an hour to 45 minutes, until the pork belly is starting to brown. Turn the heat down to medium-low (325*F).
*On my Weber Summit, I do this by turning off the infrared rotisserie burner; charcoal burns down naturally, and I add about 12 coals per hour to maintain the medium-low temperature.
Cook on medium-low for about 2 ½ hours, or until the pork belly reaches 160*F internal temperature. (Pork belly is hard to overcook, so don't worry too much about specific timing or temperature.)
5. Serve: Take the pork belly off the spit immediately, then rest for at least 15 minutes. Carve into ¼" thick slices and serve.
*Herb rubbed: After brining, rub the pork belly with the zest of a half a lemon and 2 tablespoon of minced fresh herbs. Use your favorites of thyme, rosemary, oregano, and marjoram.
*I wanted to test my assumptions about pork and brining. I am a fan of dry brines, but with pork, wet brines have worked better. I had two pieces of pork belly from the store, so I tested a dry versus wet brine. One piece was dry brined with a herb rub; the other used the wet brine version I share in the recipe. Both versions were good, but the wet brined belly was everyone's favorite. The dry brined pork turned out, well, a little dry - the wet brine improved the moistness of the pork. (Moistness is a word, right?)
*I've read that herbs don't really work in a brine. That was something else I should have tested. Darn!
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Rotisserie Pork Shoulder
Rotisserie Pork Loin, Brined and Maple Sugar Glazed
Click here for my other rotisserie recipes.
|Check out my cookbook, Rotisserie Grilling.
Everything you could ask about the rotisserie,
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Kris Hurley says
First things first...I LOVE your site. It's opened my eyes to rotisserie grilling and I'll never go back. My turkey is fought over by the family every year. So, I was looking for a recipe to go with some leftover pickled red onions I had, and a local Chicago chef has a recipe for Pork Belly Cubano sandwiches. She slices 1/4" and then grills, but I have done that before with not-so-spectacular results, so I looked on your site for rotisserie Pork Belly and wa-la! Two questions. Instead of a rub, the recipe calls for a wet marinade (not marinaded long). Can you use a wet marinade instead of a rub after brining? Second question, I'm addicted to smoke chips. This looks like a good candidate for the smoker box. Is it?
Mike Vrobel says
I'd do the marinade or the brine, not both. And yes, smoking would be good with this recipe. Enjoy!
Scott Weitzenkamp says
I'm gonna try making this this week! What would be some good side dishes to make with this?
Mike Vrobel says
I like to use it to make sandwiches - see my other rotisserie pork belly post: https://www.dadcooksdinner.com/rotisserie-barbecued-pork-belly/
Hi Mike, I sure hope you are still monitoring this bog because I have just discovered it and tried a few recipes and love it so far! I did have a question on this pork belly recipe thought. I think I must have done something wrong though because my pork belly was at 160 degrees after barely an hour on the rotisserie. I did the high heat for 30 minutes, then let the grill cool down to 325 degrees (grill has a temp gauge). I used 1 1/2 lbs of pork belly, it was two pieces, both about an inch or a little more thick. Can you think of what I might have done wrong?
Mike Vrobel says
I think it was quick because of the two pieces and the thin belly - it heated through faster. As long as you cooked it to 160°F Fahrenheit, it should have been fine.
Do you think this would work in an electric rotisserie? Think Ronco Showtime.
Mike V says
Yes - I have a couple of readers who use tabletop rotisserie a with my recipes, so I think it will work. (If you try it, let me know how it goes)
Neville Holmes says
Love this as do the people we share it with. Use a weber summit and the belly comes up brilliantly. Really appreciate your blog and your book of recipes . Thanks for for efforts and sharing.
Mike V says
John K. says
Mike, my hero! That is an amazing treatment of pork belly! I must do this!! I buy my pork belly at the west side market n Cleveland. A little it of a drive, but I always love the trip. Several shops there sell pork belly. And other wonderful cuts too. Last time there I asked the butcher I was at if they sell pork jowls. Not really he told me, but they do sell the whole head. About $7 I think. I warned my wife, one day I'm coming home with one!
I wonder if the Asian Market in the valley carried pork belly?
Great post Mike!!
Michael Singerman says
Wow, Mike, I can't believe how delicious that looks! I want some so bad! I've baked whole pork belly, and it as good, but this looks like an amazing way to prepare pork belly. Kudos to you.
MikeV @ DadCooksDinner says
Thank you! I have a couple more bellys in my freezer, and I'm going to try baking one of them. Any suggestions for a recipe?
Doh! The West Side Market...of course! I should have known someone up there has it.
I found it at CAM Asia Market, on the southeast side of Cleveland. I'm not sure if the Asian markets in the valley carry it.
About the pig head - I was making Pozole the other day, following Rick Bayless's recipe, and he says that's how you make REAL pozole - with a pig head and hominy. Hmmm...I just don't know if I can take it staring at me while I cook.
MikeV @ DadCooksDinner says
@Feast on the cheap:
Feast on the Cheap says
Oh wow. Now that's how to cook pork.
MikeV @ DadCooksDinner says
The other good source could be your local Farmers Market - if you have someone who sells pork, ask them if you can special order it.
Thank you! I absolutely adored your Sounds of Winter Grilling video. The rotisserie, popping and hissing in the cold? I felt right at home.
What a great idea, pork belly on the rotisserie! I'm with you in believing about anything can be spun for dinner. Well done!
Pork belly is something that has been on my "must try" list for quite awhile, but, like you, I have not been able to find it anywhere. Now I am going to have to ramp up the search! Too bad i don't have a decent asian market anywhere in the vicinity.