Sunday, November 6, 2011

Stuffed pork belly

I'm kind of obsessed with this cut of pork, which you may already know from my previous postings -  Fun with Pork Belly - in multiple parts. Fatty delicious belly of pork, bacon is made from this cut, spare ribs are cut from it and it hold the intense flavor... the essence of pig. OK, I obviously have issues here so let's not linger. I'm not reinventing the wheel with this one, it's just my interpretation of a classic - Porchetta.

It is simply pork belly stuffed with a onion and herb bread stuffing which is then rolled, tied and smoked.

I started with a whole, de-boned, pork belly. Squared it up and cut off any excess fat from belly, retaining any nice pieces of meat.

I then butterflied the belly to "open" it up and make room for stuffing.

At this point, before introducing the stuffing, I rubbed the belly meat with a roasted garlic, herb and salt paste.

For paste:
slowly roast 5 cloves garlic in 4TBS olive oil along with
fresh oregano and basil.
When garlic is soft, pore into bowl and
mash with back of  fork.
Add enough kosher salt to create a paste.

After applying garlic paste, it's time to stuff this belly. Evenly spread stuffing and any extra pieces of pork meat onto the belly.


2 sticks butter
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
fresh oregano
fresh basil
fresh thyme
seasoned bread stuffing cubes
chicken stock
Cook first 6 ingredients until soft. add bread and stock
till proper consistency

Now "close" the butterflied pork meat and roll belly bringing skin sides around to meet. Using butchers twine, tie rolled belly every 2 inches or so.

I placed on rack in a foil pan to keep belly off the drippings while cooking. I also put slits in the skin to allow fat to render more easily. Placed in smoker at 250 deg. and smoked with cherry and hickory wood.

After 2 hours on the smoker...

After 8 hours on smoker I transferred to sheet pan and finished in a 370 deg. oven for about 1 hour to crisp skin. Rubbing kosher salt on skin helps this process.

After it was removed from oven, I allowed it to rest for an hour before slicing.

YES - it was as good as it looked! The skin was not as crispy as I would have liked but the flavor of the belly with the herb stuffing was awesome. Cutting a nice wheel of pork and placing it on a sheet pan in a 450 deg. oven for 10 - 15min. will render a bit more fat and help crisp the skin. Serve on homemade garlic mash potatoes, I don't think it gets much better!

A note to the faint of heart, this isn't for everyone, especially those who may be counting those calories.

From Wikipedia:
A 100-gram serving of pork belly typically has 518 calories. The calorie breakdown is: 92% fat (53.01g), 0% (0 g) carbohydrates, and 8% (9.34g) protein.

Well, with that said, it was delicious and I can't wait to try other variations of this recipe. Maybe pork belly stuffed with kielbasi and sauerkraut... we'll see.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

So it comes to an end

We have come to the end of the 2011 competition BBQ season. It was my 5th year as a competitive BBQer and I love it! I feel my BBQ knowledge has grown stronger each year and, with the people around me now, this was my best season yet. We competed in 11 events this season and pulled 7 top 10 rib finishes! We also received 2 3rd place chicken calls and a 6th place brisket. Still a lot of work to do but I feel that 2012 will be our "step-up" season, we'll see.

Thanks to everyone who came out and supported... well, partied with us. Can't wait to see you all next year! Thank you to Ken Nowicki and his contributions to the team, Jeff Bera for keeping up with the web page and Marie Moody, my partner in BBQ, with out her the team would not be doing as well as it is.

Me and marie

See ya in 2012!


Friday, November 4, 2011

4th Annual Keystone Classic Barbeque - Harrisburg, PA

Well, here it is, our last competition of the year and wouldn't you know it... the sun was shining bright! We arrived there around noon Friday, Oct. 7th, and setup camp, ready to enjoy our season ending event. I prepped the meats early so there would be plenty of time to relax with some Jäger. We fired up the deep fryer and watched the Phillies playing in a series deciding playoff game. After the Phills lost we consoled ourselves by deep frying... everything! We had brats, mushrooms, s'mores and well if you were there and are missing any small pets...

Saturday rolled in and everything went pretty smoothly. First up was chicken.

                                                                                              Chicken has been up and down all year. It finished 38th out of 47 teams.

                                                                                         The ribs came through for me again landing 3rd place!

I was happy with the pulled pork and it finished in 14th place.

The brisket was so over cooked that I had to cut meatloaf sized pieces to keep it from falling apart. The flavor, however, was right on! It took 20th place.

Overall, this was a great competition held in conjunction with the Keystone International Livestock Exposition. The sun shined bright for our last event of the season and we finished up in 12th place overall out of 47 teams! Not a bad way to finish up, I'm already looking forward to 2012.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

3rd Annual Southern York County BBQ Cookoff - Glen Rock, PA

Here we go again, I feel like a broken record... rain, rain, and more rain. After surviving hurricane Irene a few weeks earlier, I was hoping for a nice DRY competition in southern York, PA. That wasn't going to happen thanks to Tropical Storm Lee flooding out the Northeast. The 3rd Annual Southern York County BBQ Cookoff was held in Glen Rock, PA September 9th - 10th.

Lee's remnants helped cause torrential downpours over the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, which led to massive, record river flooding on September 8 and 9.  This included the Susquehanna River at Binghamton, N.Y., Wilkes-Barre, Pa. and Meshoppen, Pa. The Swatara Creek in Hershey, Pa. beat the previous record level by 10 feet! -

The days leading up to the event did not look good with all the flood reports for the area surrounding the competition site. Alicia, the event coordinator, assured every one that the competition was a go! So Friday September 9th I packed up and headed to Glen Rock. The competition was held on the grounds at The Markets at Shrewsbury. The Amish market hosts some great food and crafts. I always look forward to getting the oyster pie... OH,  and the house made ice cream! I'm glad this event wasn't canceled.

When I pulled into Shrewsbury, around noon, most teams were already setup. The dirt / gravel lot we were in was swampy and wet but workable. The sky looked threatening but held off for the most part, but I do think it kept some of the spectators away.

The band played Friday night as we settled into our site and began to cook some competition BBQ!

We had no problem with the weather at this competition... but encountered a big problem with the bees, there were every where, like we setup on their hive. During turn-ins they were buzzing around and landing on everything. I had to be very careful not to close one up in a turn-in box. Quite a few of them lost their lives in my sweet sauce... sorry guys!
Chicken has given me lots of trouble this season. I've gone from top 3 to last using same cooking methods. I switched up slightly for this contest and pulled a 3rd place!

Ribs have been my best category and they finished in 9th place.

19th place pulled pork.

I loved this brisket and was happy with an 11th place finish out of 28 teams.

We ended up finishing 6th place overall out of 28 teams. The soggy ground and bees couldn't sabotage this event, always a good time... and I did get my oyster pie at the market, top notch! Full results can be seen here - KCBS.