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Recipe: Maple-bourbon hot-smoked pork belly

March 04, 2010
  (Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles…)

Maple-bourbon hot-smoked pork belly

Total time: 1 1/2 hours, plus 3 days brining time

Servings: 8 to 10

Note: Pork belly can generally be found at Asian markets. Make sure the rind (skin) is removed before marinating. This recipe calls for a commercial stovetop smoker; a heavy-duty roasting pan with a rack and lid can be substituted.

3 pounds pork belly, rind or skin removed before weighing

2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon toasted and crushed mustard seed

2 tablespoons bourbon

Black pepper

Small hardwood apple-wood chips

1. Wash and dry the pork belly. Place the pork belly in a large, sealable plastic bag.

2. In a small bowl, combine the salt, maple syrup, mustard seed, bourbon and several grinds of black pepper to form a marinade.

3. Pour the marinade into the bag, massaging it into the pork belly. Seal the plastic bag, pressing out all of the air.

4. Refrigerate the pork belly for 3 days, turning it once every day.

5. Remove the pork belly from the marinade, wiping off any excess and cut it in half.

6. Prepare the smoker: Spread about 3 tablespoons wood chips in the center of the base of the smoker, directly over the burner. Place the drip pan (if using) over the chips, and a rack on top of the drip pan. Place the pork belly in the center of the rack. Place the lid on the smoker, leaving about 2 inches uncovered.

7. Place the smoker over medium heat just until the chips begin to smoke. Cover the smoker entirely with the lid and reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to gently smoke the pork belly until a thermometer inserted in the center reaches at least 150 degrees, about 1 hour. Remove from heat and uncover the smoker.

8. The pork belly is fully cooked. Slice the pork belly and serve immediately, or cool to room temperature, then cover tightly and refrigerate (or freeze) until needed. The pork belly will keep for 3 to 5 days, refrigerated, or up to 3 months frozen.

Each of 10 servings: 712 calories; 13 grams protein; 1 gram carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 72 grams fat; 26 grams saturated fat; 98 mg. cholesterol; 1 gram sugar; 245 mg. sodium.

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