Recently I've been spending a lot of time playing with sous viding meats (a process in which food is sealed in cryovac and placed in a water bath with a controlled temperature for several hours to ensure a tender end product and perfect internal temperature) before hitting the grill with them.
So when I came across a beautiful section of Snake River Farms Kurobuta pork belly in my freezer, I knew that I wanted to mix up my normal method of slow smoking, braising, and/or grilling with a turn in the sous vide water bath.
The problem is that the pork belly would not have much actual time in the smoke so I opted to cold smoke it for 2 hours before hitting the sous vide then finishing it on the grill. For the cold smoking stage, I recently received a product called the A-MAZE-N smoker tube, basically a perforated tube in which wood pellets slowly burn.
While I have cold smoked countless times below using a small amount of charcoal and wood chips (the process is described at the bottom of the page), I found that the smoker tube was effortless and provided just the right amount of smoke.
As for the sous vide stage, there are several DIY ways to make your own, though the price of the Anova models is pretty darn good based on the amount of times I have already used it over the last 3 months. Enjoy!
TRIPLE THREAT SMOKED PORK BELLY
1 uncured pork belly, approximately 3lbs. (I used 1/2 of a Snake River Farms Kurobuta pork belly)
1/4 rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp. mirin
1 tbsp. honey
1/4 soy sauce
juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp. ginger powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. sugar
Prepare A-MAZE-N smoker tube according to instructions*, placing it on one side of your grill's charcoal grate. Replace the main cooking grate on the grill. Using a sharp pairing knife, make a series of vertical and horizontal cuts 1-inch apart in the pork belly's top layer of fat (be careful not to cut into the meat) to create a crisscross pattern. Place pork belly on the side opposite the smoker tube, cover the grill, and cold smoke the pork belly for 2-3 hours until it has taken on a nice smoky color and smell.
While the pork belly cold smokes, combine the remaining ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk well. Refrigerate the marinade until ready to use.
Remove the pork belly from the smoker and either seal it in an airtight bag along with the marinade using either a home vacusealer or a large resealable bag that has had as much of the air removed as possible while sealing.
Set the sous vide cooker for 160 degrees and place the sealed pork belly in the water bath for 12 hours. Once complete, remove the pork belly from the water bath and place it in the refrigerator to cool.
Prepare a grill for medium-high heat cooking, approximately 400 degrees. Remove the pork belly from the bag and pat dry. Grill the pork belly for approximately 5 minutes per side while moving it periodically to ensure even browning.
Remove the pork belly from the grill, allow it to cool for 10 minutes, then slice and serve or use for a recipe such as this smoked pork belly Cuban sandwich.
*Alternatively you can preheat 2-3 charcoal briquets, place them on one end of the charcoal grate, and add wood chips and additional briquets as need