When many people think of pork belly, the first thing that comes to mind is bacon, but what if you could make crispy barbeque bacon flavored goodness. The simple addition of barbeque sauce to a piece of pork belly won’t get you to That.
When you add the combination of preparation to seasoning and saucing, that is how you get to that fantastic flavor. So, let us take a look at how we can barbeque pork belly on a pellet grill and accomplish this yummy delicacy.
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How to use a Pellet Grill
A pellet grill is one of the easiest grills to use, and a Traeger Pro 22 model is the standard that all other pellet grills are developed from. Because of this, we will refer to the Traeger pellet grill but not to worry because most grills work similarly.
The first thing you will want to do is make sure your grease bucket is empty, and if you use foil for easy cleanup, now is the time to make sure it is ready to use. If you don’t use foil, you might want to consider putting it down on the grease tray because pork belly is fatter than most meat products.
Next, fill the pellet hopper with pellets of your choice. I try to put about ¾ of the number of pellets I will need for the cook in my hopper. As I check my food, I also check my pellet level and arrange my pellets over the auger input. My goal is to run the pellets out each time I use my pellet grill.
Turn your smoke onto the smoke setting, which is also the startup setting, and leave the lid open. Your grill should start to smoke and have a distinct sound change that can only be described as a roar. Once the smoke reduces, you are ready to move on.
Set your pellet grill to the temperature required for your recipe. Wait for your grill to settle into that temperature. You should wait five more minutes after you reach your target temperature so your entire grill will be a consistent temperature, which will prevent a massive drop in temperature when you add your food.
What is the best Pellet Flavor for Pork Belly?
When I think of pork belly flavors, my thoughts go between what compliments bacon or pork roast. When thinking of pork, we tend to head toward fruit flavors like apple, but that might not add the earthy wood smoke flavors we want.
If we think of bacon as our benchmark, then hickory would be an easy choice, but not so fast. I think a sweet smoke flavor would be the best choice, and that would be maple for the best ohmage to bacon.
Maybe this might be a point where we might want to compromise with our wood choice and use a better all-around pellet-like pecan. Pecan is our favorite overall choice for everything other than brisket, which is another reason to use pecan.
Most bags of pellets come in sizes of around 20 pounds. Consider how often you will use a specific flavor, and maybe your second choice is better when you are required to buy a large bag.
In summary, Maple pellets will be our top choice for pork belly, but pecan is our second choice because of its versatility.
What is Pork Belly?
Pork belly is quite literally the belly of a pig. This large flat piece of flesh is comprised of layers of skin, fat, and meat. The meat is well marbled with fat that adds moisture and flavor.
This cut is most commonly used to make bacon but can be used to combine other tasty treats. Most commonly, a pork belly has the skin removed and weighs about 12 pounds.
It is common to find a whole belly in a butcher shop cut into four square pieces, so you need not buy more than you need. If you do buy a whole piece, you can certainly divide it up for other preparations.
Barbeque Pork Belly Nuggets
These pork treats are also known as smoked pork belly burnt ends, but we still like to call them barbeque pork belly nuggets.
Now that you have some background on what, where, and how, it is time to get to the details.
- 3 lbs. pork belly (1/4)
- 2 tbsp pepper
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 cups barbeque sauce (your favorite)
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
Preheat the pellet smoker to 400 degrees. Score the fat side of the pork belly in a cross-hatch pattern. Mix your seasoning in a bowl including sugar if you so choose. Rub the seasonings on all sides of the pork belly including the scores in the fat.
Place the pork belly on the pellet grill grate, fat side up. Close the lid and let your pellet grill run for 40 minutes. Flip your pork belly and let it continue to cook for 20 minutes.
Sauce each side again while flipping the pork belly, then lower the pellet grill temperature to 300 degrees for three hours. Flip your pork belly every hour to help prevent fat from pooling and to help cook evenly. Feel free to add more sauce after each flip.
Don’t forget to check your pellets every time you close your grill lid.
Remove pork belly and increase the temperature to 400 degrees. Cut the pork belly into 1 inch cubes and cover with barbeque sauce in a grill friendly pan. Place the pan in the pellet grill and stir every 15 minutes until you are happy with the barbequed pork belly cubes.
What you are going for is a rendering of fat, a caramelizing of the sauce, and crispy edges. If your edges are not crispy, you can place it under your broiler for a few minutes for those crispy edges but use care because of the large amount of oil.
Other ways to prepare Pork Belly
Bacon certainly comes to mind when you think of pork belly, and we have detailed instructions. Read our article Everything You Need to Know About Smoking Bacon in an Electric Smoker or bookmark it for later.
Pork belly on a brioche bun is a gourmet treat in a foodie’s world. The pork belly is cut in the size of a square burger patty and slow-cooked on a pellet grill. Place the pork belly on the brioche bun with a slaw similar to what you would serve with a pulled pork sandwich.
Deep-fried pork belly can give you that traditional pork flavor with that crispy pork crackling shell. Smoke your pork belly for two hours at 225 degrees. Cut the pork belly into ½ inch strips, divide the strips into 3 to 4 inch pieces. Deep fry these pieces at 360 degrees until the outside is light brown and crispy.
These are just a few ideas, but more delicious ideas are easy to find.
Pellet Grill we used to Grill Barbequed Pork Belly
The Traeger 22 is a perfect size for a beginner and a professional. Another factor is the ease of use, making them ideal for a beginner or entertaining. These models don’t lend themselves to modifications and cannot sear food.
To see a full breakdown of the Traeger items, check out our two article links below.
We hope you understand how to make barbeque pork belly on a pellet grill because this is a treat that you will enjoy creating for your friends and family.
Everyone will be raving and begging you to make it again. Enjoy!
Can you overcook pork belly?
Yes. Pork belly is very forgiving because of the fat content, but if you check it every 15 minutes near the end of cooking, you should have no problem.
Do you leave the skin on the pork belly?
If you are smoking or grilling a pork belly, we recommend removing the skin or buying it removed. Leaving the skin on a pork belly is a choice that you can make. If you leave the skin on, it will benefit from being fried until crispy.
Is smoked pork belly the same as bacon?
No. Bacon is cured in a salt brine before being smoked and cooked. Smoked pork belly goes straight to a cooking proc