Brined pork belly is basically a big slab of underbelly pork that’s been soaked in a salty solution, like pickling. This makes it super juicy and tender when cooked, with a deliciously salty flavor. It’s often used in dishes like bacon or as a yummy addition to sandwiches or salads.
As a lover and chef of all things pork, I can tell you that there are few things as delicious as a perfectly brined belly pork. To prove that to you, I’ll be showing you my secret recipe for brining this cut of meat. We’ll also see a quick recipe to make smoked pork belly with brined meat.
How to Brine Pork Belly Step-by-Step?
- 2-3 lb pork belly, skin on
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 bay leaves
- I tsp black peppercorns
- 4 cups water
- Large pot or container with lid
- Mixing spoon
- Weights (optional)
Combine the salt, brown sugar, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, and 2 cups of water in a big pot or container. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve.
Add the remaining 2 cups of water and stir to combine. Then add ice to the mixture until the brine is chilled to below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the pork belly on a cutting board. Carefully remove the thickest part known as the rind at the back of the meat with a sharp knife.
Pour brine in a plastic container and place the pork belly in it, making sure it is completely submerged.
If necessary, use weights to keep the meat fully submerged in the brine.
Cover the container with a lid and refrigerate for at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours.
After the pork has finished brining, remove it from the salt solution. Then, discard the brine.
Rinse the pork belly thoroughly under cold running water and pat it dry with paper towels.
Your brined pork is now ready to be seasoned and cooked according to your preferred method.
Smoked Pork Belly Recipe
Of all cooking methods, you may be wondering why I chose to smoke my brined pork belly. Well, smoking adds a depth of flavor that you don’t get through other cooking methods.
Additionally, smoking allows the fat in the pork belly to render and create a crispy, caramelized exterior while the inside remains juicy and tender. So, let’s get to it.
- 2 lbs brined pork belly
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- Wood chips (hickory, apple, or cherry)
Step 1: Preheat Your Smoker
To make your smoked pork belly, start by firing up your smoker to a low to medium heat of up to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
Add wood chips to the smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Hickory, apple, or cherry wood chips are all good options for smoking pork belly.
Step 2: Mix Your Ingredients
While the smoker is heating up, mix together the brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cumin, and salt in a small bowl to make the dry rub.
Step 3: Rinse the Pork in Cold Water
Remove the pork belly from the brine and rinse it with cold water. Pat dry with some paper towels.
Step 4: Rub the Pork With the Rub
Rub the dry rub all over the pork belly, making sure to cover all sides. You can also sprinkle some olive oil on the meat to allow the meat to get brown.
Step 5: Place the Pork on the Smoker
Once the smoker heats up, place the pork belly on the smoker grates, fat side up.
Smoke the pork belly for about three to four hours, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 6: Let It Rest
Once the pork belly is done, remove it from the smoker and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Step 7: Serve With Your Favorite Sides
Serve with your favorite sides, like roasted vegetables or mashed potatoes.
And there you have it, folks! My tried and true recipe for smoking brined pork.
Give it a try, and let me know how it turns out.
Types of Brines and Their Effect on the Meat
The basic brine are a solution of salt, sugar, water, and other seasonings we use to enhance the flavor, tenderness, and moisture of meats.
But you can use different types of brines to achieve different results. It depends on the flavor profile and texture that you are aiming for.
So here are some common types of brines and what they do to the meat:
- Sweet Brine: A sweet brine is made with sugar or maple syrup in addition to salt and water. It helps to caramelize the surface of the meat and add a sweet flavor to it.
- Savory Brine: A savory brine is made with herbs, spices, and aromatics such as garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. It infuses the meat with complex flavors. You can use this to create a wide range of flavor profiles, from Asian-inspired to Southern-style.
- Acidic Brine: An acidic brine is made with vinegar or citrus juice in addition to salt and water. It helps to tenderize the meat by breaking down the proteins. But it can also toughen the meat if you leave it in the brine for too long.
- Dry Brine: A dry brine is made with salts and other seasonings, such as herbs, spices, and sugar. You typically rub it onto the surface of the meat. It helps to create a crispy exterior and enhances the natural flavor of the meat.
Serving Brined Pork Belly
This is a versatile dish that pairs well with various sides. Here are a few of my favorite options:
- Roasted vegetables, like carrots, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts
- Mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes
- Creamy polenta or grits
- Coleslaw or a green salad with a tangy vinaigrette
- Grilled or roasted corn on the cob
1. Why Do You Need to Brine Your Pork Belly?
Pork belly as a cut of meat is quite tough and dry because it’s a load carrying meat. So, if you don’t prepare it properly, you could end up with BBQ meat that is as tough as leather, especially if you fast-cook it.
Brining helps me to counteract these issues. It helps add moisture and flavor to the meat. Additionally, because pork belly is a fatty cut of meat, brining can help to balance out the richness of the fat and prevent the meat from becoming too greasy.
2. How Long Should Pork Be Brined?
Generally, you’ll want to brine the pork belly for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours for maximum flavor and tenderness.
Some of my relatives do it for 36 hours, and that’s not bad. However, if you brine for too long, the meat can become overly salty. So be sure to keep an eye on the clock.
I hope this article gave you a good understanding of how to properly brine pork belly at home. We covered the importance of removing excess moisture before seasoning and cooking. Additionally, we discussed how you could experiment with different brines, seasonings, and serving suggestions to create a unique and delicious dish.
Brined pork belly is a versatile and flavorful meal that can be enjoyed for any occasion. With a bit of practice and experimentation, you can perfect your brined pork belly recipe and enjoy a mouth-watering dish that will surely become a family favorite.