I call this “pillows of pork goodness” because we’re going to take pork belly and them into square cubes that combine classic barbecue flavors with brown sugar and honey, then finished off with a savory barbecue glaze.
This cook is labor of love that is divided into 3 phases. Done right, it will take some time but the end result is well worth it! Think of fluffy chunks of sweet bacon on steroids!
- Pork Belly – 1 to 1.5 pounds (Costco often sells them in pre-cut strips that makes it easy to prepare the bellies from the outset)
- Use your favorite barbecue rub; I recommend a rub that has hints of sweet like Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub or Hogs n’ Heat Mild-Savory BBQ Rub
- Cherry or Apple (or another fruit wood) wood chunks for smoking, Hickory also pairs well with pork, just don’t use too much!
- Butter – 1 or 1.5 sticks
- Brown Sugar – 1/2 cup
- Honey – enough for drizzling
First we’re going to add the flavor of smoke to the raw bellies.
1) Setup your smoker to cook at 250 or 275 degrees.
2) Cut the pork belly into 1 1/2 inch cubes. They might look large but don’t worry, they will shrink during the cook. Pro tip: Freeze the pork belly for 1 hour before you slice it. It will make it much easier to cut.
3) Get your smoking rack ready by spraying it with a cooking oil like PAM. Then place your cubes onto the rack.
4) Season each cube with your BBQ rub (top and bottom). After seasoning, position your cubes so that the fat side is facing up. The fat will render down into the meat during the cook and give it even more flavor!
5) Once your smoker has settled at the desired temperature, place the racks in the smoker for at least 2 hours. The cubes should have a nice mahogany color after a few hours.
The bellies have received smoke and good color, next we’re going to make sure that they get tender.
1) Remove the rack from the smoker and place the bellies into a small aluminum pan.
2) Slice the butter into pats and place them on top of the bellies throughout the pan.
3) Sprinkle with generous amounts of brown sugar.
4) Follow-up by drizzling honey over the bellies.
5) Cover the pan with foil and return the bellies to the smoker for another 2 hours.
Although the bellies look good enough to enjoy, we’re going to add one more layer of flavor to really take them over the top! When the bellies have around 30 minutes left to get tender, add the BBQ sauce, apple juice, apple butter/jelly and hot sauce to a small pot. Stir the ingredients together to combine and simmer over medium-low heat until the ingredients are smooth and simmering.
Now we’re ready for the last step.
1) Remove the aluminum pan from the smoker and carefully pull back the foil.
2) Slowly drain the liquid from the pan.
3) Drizzle the glaze over the top of the bellies.
4) Return the pan to the smoker for 15-20 minutes.
5) Let your bellies cool off for around 5-10 minutes and enjoy!
This recipe was inspired by Killer Hogs’ Malcolm Reed
Keywords: pork, pork belly, bacon, BBQ, barbecue, barbeque, BBQ sauce, BBQ rub, burnt ends