From Belly of the Beast, Pig Candy Recipe from Fire It Up

After Skewered and Grilled, Banana Satay Recipe from Fire it Up (Chronicle Books, April 2011) by Andrew Schloss and David Joachim, I decided to decided to go for something meaty (big and bouncy), a pig candy recipe.

From belly of the beast

Pig Candy

A pig’s belly is striated with fat and thick slabs of lean meat, which run in ragged, parallel stripes. Think bacon and then think again. The layering is not unlike petit four pastry or ribbon candy—the perfect image for conjuring up this dementedly delicious piggy sweet meat. A slab of pork belly with its rind removed is soaked in a pineapple brine. (The rind is a layer of skin that helps the belly hold its shape for butchering, but becomes as tough as tanned leather during cooking.) Bromelain, a protein-digesting enzyme in fresh pineapple juice, helps to tenderize the lean meat of the belly. The brined belly is then grilled slowly with smoke over an indirect fire until it just about melts. Then it is cut into small squares, rolled in habanero-tinged cinnamon sugar, and quickly grilled to caramelize its surface. The result is a meaty, fatty, sugary, spicy mouth explosion. Garnish with curls of cooked onion, if desired.

Makes 4 servings

3 cups hardwood chips, such as hickory or fruitwood, soaked in water for 30 minutes

2 cups Pineapple Brine (recipe follows)

1 1/2 pounds pork belly with rind removed, about 2 inches thick

1 large onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground habanero or another chile pepper

Fire It Up_Pig Candy (2)

Combine the brine and pork in a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag. Press out the air, seal the bag, and refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight.

Light a grill for indirect medium heat, about 325°F, with smoke. Because the pork belly will need to cook for about 2 hours, if you are using charcoal or wood, you might need to light additional coals or add more wood to replenish the fire.

Layer the onion slices over the bottom of a small roasting pan just large enough to hold the pork belly. Remove the pork belly from the brine and discard the remaining brine. Pat the pork belly dry and place on top of the onions.

Drain the wood chips and put in the grill. Place the pan on the grill grate away from the fire, cover the grill, and cook until the meat is fork-tender or an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 180°F, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Remove the pan from the grill, transfer the pork to a cutting board, and let rest for at least 10 minutes. Reserve the onions if desired. Keep the fire going.

Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, and chile pepper. Push through a strainer (to remove any lumps) onto a sheet of aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Cut the pork belly into four slices, about 1 inch thick. Cut each slice into four pieces, each approximately 1 by 1 by 2 inches. Roll the pork belly pieces in the brown sugar mixture, coating them evenly and thoroughly. Transfer to a plate or pan large enough to hold in a single layer.

Brush the grill grate and coat with oil. Grill the sugar-coated pork belly pieces directly over the fire until the meat is grill-marked and the sugar melts and bubbles, 10 to 15 seconds per side. Transfer to a platter and serve with toothpicks.

Pineapple Brine

Best with pork, chicken, turkey, shellfish, fish

Makes about 2 cups

1 1/2 cups pineapple juice

1/2 cup rum or vodka

2 tablespoons coarse salt

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

Mix everything together and use as directed in a recipe.

(* Recipe from Fire it Up (Chronicle Books, April 2011) by Andrew Schloss and David Joachim, reproduced by permission of the publisher, photo by Alison Miksch)

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