The goal was to make this:
Having just bought a stove top smoker, had to use that. However, with all the fat that is in a pork belly, figured that a long, slow roasting would be good. Also, knowing that pork dries out in a hurry when cooked, figured that it should start with a brine.
So, into the brining bucket with 3/4 gallons of water and 3/4 cup of kosher salt. Brined it for a couple of hours.
Before brining, did cut through the fat on the top, placing slits every half an inch.
After the brining, rubbed butter and kosher salt all over it, working it well into the slits. Then, put fresh ground pepper over as well and placed it in the stove top smoker.
Then, out to the outdoor kitchen (gotta love Texas in December!) and wait for the wisp of smoke before sealing the top. Due to the size of the pork belly (musta been a Texas hog), had to use aluminum foil instead of the sliding lid.
Smoked it for 30 minutes. Next time will go for 45.
Then, into the indoor kitchen where a bed of thick-sliced onion on a lined baking sheet was waiting.
For smoking (outdoor kitchen) the fat side was to the bottom. For the indoor treatment, the fat side goes to the top! Also, I poured a cup of water in the pan.
Then, into a preheated 325 F oven for 3 - 3 1/2 hours, until the cracklings are hard. Check every hour to be sure that there is still water. Want water in the pan, however, do not want the pork belly touching the water. The water keeps the meat moist, but, do not want to boil the meat.
At the end, it looks like this.
I then sliced the cracklings off the top. and let the meat rest until sliced. While the meat was resting, decided to take the crackling, chop it all up, throw it into a frying pan to sweat out the rest of the fat. Then, dried the crackings on paper towel and used the fat to pan roast some asparagus.
Also, made grits with buttermilk. This gives a little tartness to the grits. So, when assembled, placed the grits on the bottom, then the sliced pork belly, then the asparagus, then the cracklings and then drizzled some honey on top.
I will do this again!