Recipe: Smoked Glazed Pork Belly (aka Pork Belly Burnt Ends)

The Labor Day weekend is summer’s last bow before fall arrives, and the holiday is usually marked with backyard cookouts across the US, involving grills and smokers.

My household planned on staying home during the weekend, spending some intimate time with the Big Green Egg XL…and I wanted to do something different with pork belly from my usual crispy smoked roast pork. I wanted something sweet, smoky…and spicy a la Sichuan style. And of course I’d heard of pork belly burnt ends so…

This here hunk of smoked pork belly with crisped skin…

…went back into the BGE with a generous application of my spice rub, along with helpings of butter, honey and brown sugar…

Which then turned into the sticky-sweet-and-savory pork belly dish below!

The only things I would have changed to this recipe: get a larger slab of pork and add some real heat–Sriracha or chili oil–to the glaze.  Oh, and I could’ve certainly used a lot less butter.

The recipe as is:

  • 6 tbsp salted butter (2 or 4 tbsp would be less wasteful)
  • 3oz Neem honey
  • 3oz light brown sugar
  • 1-2oz of spice rub (I used my cajun rub)
  • about 3 lbs of skin-on, boneless pork belly
  • a bunch of green onions, sliced, for garnish (optional)

In contrast to some burnt end methods that I’ve read, we didn’t cut or rub the pork belly before the smoke. We slapped the raw, uncut and unadorned pork belly onto the BGE to smoke at 300F (over hardwood coals and post oak logs) for about 15-20 minutes. We then applied direct heat to the skin for another 5-10 minutes to get crispy.

After pulling it off the smoker to slice and cube, I tossed the pork belly chunks in a foil pan with the glaze ingredients.  Then back onto the BGE they went for another 10-15 minutes to caramelize.

Once the pork belly got sticky and a little blackened, I pulled the pan from the smoker and let it sit while I chopped up the garnish.

It was mighty hard sneaking bites in of the hot bits of pork…but it was soooo delicious!

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