Header Art by Cryo Huren
This is the first installment of a new series here on INN, bringing you new recipe submissions from the members of KarmaFleet’s Discord cooking channel. Today, we have Selko Embries “Meat Candy” snack, which looks absolutely delicious.
Sometimes, long nights on fleets call for a more refined snack. This one goes well with all forms of libation, and will keep that belly happy while hitting F1 (or F2). There are variations of this all over the interwebs and almost any aspiring pit master has created his or her own version. I call it meat candy, but its more common name is pork belly burnt ends.
Pork Belly (whole or half)
High Quality BBQ Sauce or your choice to make a braising liquid with.
(I use a concoction I adapted from a spicy sweet and sour sauce. This I combine in equal parts with a locally produced small batch BBQ sauce)
Brown Sugar ¾ cup (can do more if you want it sweeter)
Kosher Salt ½ cup
4 TBSP Smoked Paprika
2 TBSP Corse Black Pepper
1 TBSP Ground Cumin
1 TBSP Onion Powder
1 TBSP Garlic Powder
1 TBSP Chili Powder
1 TBSP Ancho Chili Powder
1 TBSP Chipotle Chili Powder
Add the ingredients to a bowl and mix with a fork to get rid of any lumps from the brown sugar. I like to use this mix for pork and chicken applications.
Water 1 Cup
Red Wine Vinegar 1 Cup
Hot Sauce 1 cup – (Cholula, Frank’s, Texas Pete, etc.)
Honey 1 cup (may need to adjust)
Brown Sugar ½ cup (adjust to taste)
Course Ground Pepper 3 TBSP
Soy Sauce 2 TBSP
Garlic 3 oz chopped (seems like a lot but trust me it’s just enough)
Combine in a saucepan and cook on medium low heat for about 30 minutes or until it begins to thicken up and coat the back of a spoon. You might guess from the name it gets pretty sticky.
This is a pork belly:
Most supermarkets carry half cuts. However, I prefer to get a full pork belly because I make thick cut bacon from the center. The other pieces make for a delicious snack. Meat markets usually sell the whole belly, and it is a better trim than what you find at your local Sak-n-Yak. In a pinch, I will buy two halves.
First Step – The Salt Cure
Slice, liberally salt, then cold-cure the pork belly.
I use Kosher Salt, making sure to hit both sides with a heavy coating. You don’t need to complete a full 24-hour cure; a few hours in the fridge is enough to start the osmotic process that carries the salt throughout the meat.
Step Two – Dry and Cube
Wash off the excess salt; you just need to rinse and pat dry the pork belly. This keeps your bites from being too salty. Then you can cut it into cubes of about 1 ½ inch. A large chef knife will work – just make sure it’s sharp.
Step Three – Apply the Rub
This requires a liberal but not heavy application. Too much seasoning will stop the smoke penetrating the meat.
Step Four – Cook
Evenly space your cubes on a smoking tray/rack and get it on your smoker, keeping the temperature between 225 – 250F (110 – 125 C). This will depend on how your smoker works and may take some trial and error. I set for 225 and hold it there for 2 ½ – 3 hours. They should be a nice red color and be a little firm.
Step Five – The Braise
To soften up the bites we need to get them into a braise. The sticky warm bath for the bites makes them soft and delicious. I use chicken bone broth and Sticky Sauce in a 1 to 1 ratio.
Whatever braising liquid you decide on (some use butter, BBQ sauce, and honey), cook it at the same temperature, in a foil-covered disposable pan for another 90 minutes. After that, remove the foil top and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes.
Step Six – Enjoy!
As this recipe makes a lot, you can warm up any leftovers in a saucepan with a little stock or leftover braising liquid.