Saturday, February 26, 2011

Where's the Beef?

I got your beef right here... beef short ribs, that is. These are not your every day short ribs, the kind you find in the supermarket or in Korean style cooking. These are monster, untrimmed, meaty, beef-porn ribs. Like any cut of beef short rib, they need to be cooked low and slow for a long time to make them melt in your mouth tender. I found these babies in The Restaurant Depot and could not resist trying them. They're not cheep but, as I found, worth every penny!

I rubbed them with my Philly Blind Pig BBQ rib rub, put them on the smoker at 240deg.F and smoked them with hickory wood pellets for 5hrs. They pulled back on the bone and plumped up beautifully.

That's worth one more picture...

I took them off the smoker and let them rest, covered with foil for about an hour. I could not believe how tender they were as I cut them into individual ribs. I'm not even going to recommend what side dishes to have with them because... Who cares!

If you have never had these huge, juicy, OMG are they real, baby-can-I-have-this-dance, beef ribs... I recommend you do!


Sunday, February 6, 2011


OK, now that we got the most common use of pork belly out of the way, BACON,  lets move to something a little more interesting. Corn Bellies anyone?

Here is a nice piece of pork belly. Brined for 2 days.

Brine recipe:

2 quarts H2O
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
6 juniper berries
6 cloves
6 black pepper corns
small cinnamon stick
1 TBS honey powder
1/2 tsp cardamom
red pepper

I will use this for a couple applications so I cut a piece off to use here.

This piece of belly was put on the smoker at 205deg.F for 4hrs., the last hour was wrapped in foil to make a bit more tender. Sugar maple wood was used.

After belly is cooled, I cut into pieces and inserted corn dog sticks ( yes - that's where we are going with this! ).

These pieces are then flash fried in peanut oil to crisp up outside and warm the inside.

Now they are going to be dipped in a batter, any corn dog batter will work. The batter I use leans a bit more towards a corn muffin batter - sweet with a touch of maple syrup. Feel free to try any corn batter you like. I then fry them in a mix of peanut oil and lard.

If you like corn dogs, you must try this! Crunchy sweet corn coating around salty, smoky pork belly - the pork meat has a nice chew while the fat just melt in you mouth, delicious. For me the perfect dipping sauce is grape jelly mixed with wasabi paste, sweet and hot and I go hot!




Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Bacon is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about pork or specifically pork belly, so it seems like the best place to start. I took a nice meaty piece of belly and some good size trimmings to use for my homemade bacon.

I removed the rind (skin). I know a lot of recipes tell you to leave rind on but I find you get more flavor from the cure by removing it.

Give them a nice rub down with cure and place them in Ziploc bags to cure in the frig.

Be sure to coat all sides of belly pieces before putting in bags - don't be stingy with the cure!

The dry cure mix:

1 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup dry maple
1 tsp mace
1/2 tsp juniper
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp clove
1/2 tsp red pepper
pink cure

After 8 days on the cure, turning every day, I removed from bags and rinsed in cold water. Dry them off with a clean dish towel.

At this point you technically have bacon. I had to cut some samples to see how it tastes, but I wasn't done yet - I still want to smoke my bacon for even more flavor!

I wrapped the pieces in paper towels and put back in the frig to dry for 4 days before the smoking process. When dried they hit the smoker for 4hrs at 150deg.F, using hickory and sugar maple wood pellets.

Bacon usually will call for a cold smoking process with temperatures not going over 100deg.F. I did a hot smoke on the bacon. The last hour I set temp to 165deg.F so the bacon was fully cook at end of smoking.

Bacon fried up in a pan, crispy, salty, is always good - but I can't begin to describe how incredible it was right off the smoker. Fatty, smoky and it just melt in your mouth, then all those other subtle favors from the cure kick in! Who needs cold smoke, this was awesome.



Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fun with Pork Belly - in multiple parts

Here is a 17 1/2lb. pork belly...

I picked up this, bone-in beauty at Cannuli's House of Pork, in the middle of Philadelphia's Italian market on 9th street. I wanted to get some practice trimming one of these babies from scratch. I had some ideas of what I wanted to make, bacon, of course, but I didn't what to limit it to that. I was hoping to be a bit more creative.

I started by cutting a nice, 4 bone, piece of meat out of the belly. Following the outside bone as a guide I came out with a impressive roast of pork belly. Frenching the bones gave a nice effect.

I then removed the rib bones from the remaining 2 pieces, following the underside of the bones leaving as much meat as possible on the belly. It was a slow process but easier than I thought. Squared up the 2 hunks of belly and they were ready to become bacon or what ever I had in mind.

I saved all scraps and small pieces from the trimming for later use. There is just too much flavor in this cut of pork to discard them. Maybe I'll use it for making some sausage , I do have some nice venison on the freezer...

Now that the belly is all trimmed, it's time to get to work!

Next up... BACON.