Barbecue Bros turns 8 years old today. Thanks for your support and happy Memorial Day!
Heim Barbecue laments rising meat prices in this piece from the local Fort Worth paper: “I’m afraid these meat shortages are going to be the final nail in the coffin for a lot of independent BBQ joints”
In NC, JD’s Smokehouse in Connelly Springs has been having issues procuring meat
Rodney Scott’s newest barbecue store won’t open in Atlanta by the end of the spring as originally planned, but they are still moving forward
For those barbecue fans looking for a new ebook
Pork prices have increased by 3%
Five spots for “quarantine barbecue” in Asheville, according to the AVL Today blog
NYC barbecue takeout options
Quite the photo here
Even the NC Museum of History is getting in on “The Last Dance” memes
Monk: During the pandemic, more people are resorting to backyard smoking. Between the meat shortage due to supply chain issues and inventory being picked up by restaurants, selection can be hit or miss. This means I can’t just walk into my neighborhood grocery store and pick up a pork butt like I used to. However, this does allow for the opportunity to try some different cuts, assuming I come across them.
Pork belly is one such cut I’ve been looking to smoke but hadn’t come across it, even pre-pandemic. However, on a recent trip to Costco they were flush with pork bellies even though the rest of the beef and pork meat case was pretty bare.
But what to do with the 9 pound pork belly? Should I cube it and make pork belly burnt ends or smoke it whole with a salt and pepper rub a la a brisket? Robbie from City Limits Q down in Columbia suggested over Instagram that I split it in half and do both, which only made too much sense. His big thing, however, was to be sure I brine the belly and I did exactly that with kosher salt overnight the night before.
That morning, as I fired up the smoker and let it get to temp, I sliced the pork belly in half and cubed one half and sprinkled in with Hardcore Carnivore’s Red rub. For the “whole” half, I sprinkled the same kosher salt and coarse ground pepper rub I’ve used on tri-tip and other beef cuts. Then, onto the smoker they went.
After 2 hours at 250-275 degrees, the burnt ends were done with their smoke bath. The next step was to toss them in barbecue sauce, honey, and butter and put back on the smoker in a covered pan.
After 1.5 hours, I took off the foil and finished the final 30 minutes uncovered. Then, they came out in sauced little nuggets of pork and fat. About 4 hours total, and I got this perfect sweet and savory bite.
As for the other half of the belly, a little after 3 hours it was already up to 200 degrees internal temperature. I wrapped in butcher paper and rested in a cooler for a few hours until dinner time.
…But not before slicing off a couple slices and throwing onto a potato roll with some homemade pickles I made a few weeks back. The pork belly is such a fatty, rich cut that the acid from the pickles nicely counteracts it. The combination of which makes a pretty darn good sandwich.
I’m not saying this will replace my pork butt as my go-to but it’s nice to have it in the arsenal. While a pork butt will take me 10-12 hours depending on the size of the butt and how fast I’m smoking, I smoked this pork belly two ways and got two fantastic dishes in less than 5 hours total (both of which I have received really good feedback on). On one hand, it was nice to knock out the smoke before lunch but on the other, I didn’t get any extended beer drinking time.
As others have urged, if you are apt to smoking, use this weird time of pandemic as a reason to try something new. You may just love the results.
Ryan (BBQ Tourist) and Sean (NYC BBQ) from The Smoke Sheet recently joined The BBQ Beat hosted by Kevin Sandridge to discuss the current state of barbecue during the pandemic, from when festivals may actually happen again to the meat shortage to more folks grilling or smoking at home while they are sheltering in place. This was my first exposure to BBQ Beat but looks to be a live show/video podcast worth checking out again in the future.