Curing pork belly before smoking it does several things – it preserves, seasons, and improves the final texture. It needs an extra couple of days but really only takes a few minutes of your time and is completely worth it.
Active Time: 4-5 hours
Servings: A lot
- Wildwood Grilling Smoking Pellets
- 1 Pork Belly, preferably fresh
- 1 Cup Kosher Salt
- ⅔ Cup light Brown Sugar
- ½ Cup fresh Thyme
- 2 Tbsp. Juniper Berries, dried
- 2 Tbsp. Black Peppercorns
If you have the fridge space, place a weight on the pork while it cures. This will speed up the cure and the pork will be more uniform and easier to work with while it smokes. You will also get a firmer end product.
- Lay the Pork Belly on flat surface fat side up, score the fat in diamond pattern going about a ½” deep.
- Place the Thyme leaves, juniper berries, and peppercorns in a food processor and pulse to make a paste. Place the paste in a bowl, add the salt and sugar, combine to create a grainy mixture.
- Rub the mixture evenly all over the belly making sure to work it into the score marks.
- Wrap the belly tightly in plastic, and place in the fridge for 48 hours. If you have the space, put the belly in a pan and place another pan on top, fill the second pan with a weight of some sort to press the belly.
- To smoke, preheat a pellet grill on the smoke setting.
- Remove the pork from the plastic wrap, rinse under cold fresh water, and pat dry.
- Bring the grill temp up to 250°F and place the pork on the grates.
- Smoke for 4-5 hours or until you reach an internal temperature of 200°F.
- Allow to rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.
*Keep a spray bottle of water handy in case of flare-ups.