North Carolina is pink today. In fact, much of the U.S. is either pink or red, at least according my little weather app’s temperature map.
Hot weather makes people do weird things. And I’m not talking about the controversial relationship between increased violent crime and heat waves; I’ll let the sociologists keep messing with that one.
No, I’m talking about throwing water balloons at a six year-old while fully clothed and not expecting retribution. I’m talking about putting ice cubes in your chickens’ water bowl because they’re panting so hard.
I’m talking about the guy walking down the street without a shirt on and his pants halfway down his behind, about whose inappropriate apparel my daughter spent copious amounts of time discussing.
Being out in public without a shirt: bad. Not pulling your pants up: even worse. Thank goodness.
On days like this, an easy meal is a must. Something smoked? You betcha.
When it’s hot outside, I gravitate to smoking over regular grilling. With smoking, you put a good fire in the box (or the side of the grill that the meat won’t be on), put the meat on the grate (the other side of the fire), cover it and walk away, preferably back inside where it’s cool.
This recipe calls for pork belly, but really any of the fattier cuts, picnic, Boston butt, etc., will work.
It’s a matter of applying the rub and letting it sit for a few hours while you make the sauce, which is an easy sauté of aromatics and the addition of lots of ketchup and other stuff.
Easy stuff, this recipe.
This is a hard one to explain. I’m not a huge fan of the sauce on its own. It’s too tomatoey for me. However, when applied to the pork, mingled with the brown sugar and salt rub and caramelized to a nice gorgeous char, it is much better.
Dudette claimed that it was too spicy (there is a half teaspoon of red pepper flakes, but that was hardly enough to be noticeable). Hubby and I both agreed that while it was good, it wasn’t fantastic. We’ve definitely had better this month.
If I’m going to make a tomato based sauce, I’ll go for the Memphis-Style Barbecue Sauce from the same magazine. If I want ginger-based, I’ll head towards the null that was on the halved chickens in the Fine Cooking recipe I did earlier this month
(I’m not sure why they even tacked corn bread in here when the recipe isn’t even included. Kinda weird.)
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I don’t even know that I’d try to change this. I’d just use a different sauce.
- For the pork and cornbread:
- Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar
- 1 1-pound slab pork belly, skin removed
- Vegetable oil, for brushing
- 4 squares cornbread
- For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 teaspoons minced peeled ginger
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup ketchup
- ½ cup apple juice
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- Kosher salt
- Make the pork: Mix 2 teaspoons salt and the brown sugar in a bowl. Rub the pork with the brown sugar mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- Make the sauce: Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes. Add the ketchup, apple juice, oyster sauce, vinegar, mustard powder and ¼ teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 20 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes, then transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside about one-quarter of the sauce for serving.
- Remove the pork belly from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before grilling. Preheat a grill to medium, then prepare for indirect heat: For gas, turn off the burners on one side. For charcoal, push the coals to one side. Place a drip pan under the grates on the cooler side of the grill.
- Brush the grill grates with vegetable oil. Place the pork on the cooler side of the grill (indirect heat) and cook, turning occasionally, until fork-tender but not falling apart, 2 hours, 30 minutes to 3 hours, brushing with the sauce occasionally during the last hour of cooking. Move the pork to the hotter side of the grill (direct heat) and cook, turning and brushing with more sauce, until glazed and lightly charred, about 5 more minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 20 minutes. Slice the pork belly and serve with the cornbread and reserved sauce.
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