Sous-B-Q: Smoked Pork Belly

Smoking fresh pork belly creates a versatile flavor profile quite different than that of the cured product commonly known as "bacon."


Pork belly, raw, 3 lbs./1.4 Kg.
Powdered egg white as needed, or fresh, 1 each beaten well with 1 oz/30 ml water.
Kosher salt, 2 Tablespoons.
Granulated garlic, 2 teaspoons.
Paprika, 2 teaspoons.
Sugar, 2 teaspoons,
Fresh Rosemary, 0.5 oz./15 g.

Optional components:

BBQ style:
Barbecue sauce, our easy-to-make version or your preference.
Steamed rice, as needed. We used Calrose, a starchy, short grain version.
Pineapple chunks, as needed.
Molasses, to drizzle.
Vinegar marinated cucumbers (or pickles) as needed.
Chopped fresh parsley, as needed.

Taco style:
Tortillas, white corn, as needed.
Iceberg lettuce, shredded, as needed.
Grated cheese, your choice, as needed.



Heirloom tomatoes, red and yellow, 1 each.
Onion, chopped, 0.5 each.
Sous vide corn, 1 ear, removed from cob.
Cilantro, 0.5 bunch.
Jalapenos, pickled,1 each, chopped.
Lemon juice, 0.5 oz/15 ml..
Kosher salt, as needed.


Equipment requirements

Immersion circulator, Inkbird or equivalent.
Lipavi C15 container.
Lipavi C15L lid.
N15 polycarbonate racks.
Heat rated sous vide bags.
Channel or chamber vacuum device.
Pellet smoker or generic back yard barbecue with a BBQ thermometer (optional).
Cast iron broiler pan or skillet.
Taco racks (optional).
Infrared or probe thermometer.


Above: Inkbird Immersion circulator, Lipavi C15 container, Lipavi C15L lid, N15 polycarbonate racks.

Serves 3-6 per lb./450 g
Level of difficulty 3


Seal the pork belly in heat rated sous vide bags and process at 135 F/57 C for 18 hours. This will pasteurize and tenderize the protein. Shock cold in iced water until the package achieves 70F/21 C. Cold shocking prevents autolysis in the cut and also protects other foods in the refrigerator from temperature abuse. Refrigerate at 40 F/4 C for at least 12 hours. In this state, the processed pork belly can be held for up to two weeks without any deterioration.

The sealed package will be the exact same weight as it was when you started. Submerge in hot tap water (110 F/43 C) or a working sous vide bath to melt the juices in the bag.

Remove the roast from the package and drain into a pan with a screen.

Pat the roast dry and transfer to a cutting board. Remove the juices from the pan and set aside–do not clean the pan!

Yield, part 1:

The juices in the bag will amount to approximately 8% of the total weight–in this case, 0.5 cups/110 ml. There will be almost no fat in the release because of the low temperatures used by sous vide processing. If you remove the myoglobin and albumins according to the method explained HERE, about 0.25 cups/55 ml of concentrated consommé will remain. This flavorful broth can be used in any savory recipe that calls for water or stock. On this occasion, we used it to flavor and dilute the Barbecue sauce.

Divide the roast in half and cut 0.75″/2 cm slices. Arrange on the screen with the pan below to capture drippings during the smoking process.

Creating a sticky surface will help seasonings cling and create a delicious crust. Use a dredge/shaker to sprinkle the surface with powdered egg whites. A fresh egg white beaten with an equal amount of water will achieve the same result–apply sparingly.

Use a spray bottle filled with water to dissolve the powdered egg white–skip this step if you are using fresh egg white.

Sprinkle with the seasonings described in the ingredients section above. The inclusion of fresh rosemary adds a vibrant aroma to the end result.

Mist lightly with water to moisten the seasonings.

Spray (or drizzle) with vegetable oil to seal and create a prominent crust. Leaving the screened pork in the pan for the smoking process prevents the risk of fire in the barbecue and also allows us to harvest the rendered fat.


Sous vide processing pasteurizes/ tenderizes the pork belly while causing less than 10% shrinkage. The smoking process will contribute flavor and create the desired appearance. Achieving and maintaining an internal temperature of 165 F/74 C will render excess fat to create the crispy yet juicy texture. We set the pellet smoker to 275 F/135 C, but even the fluctuating temperatures of generic back yard barbecues/smokers will achieve favorable results. For the precise among us, a BBQ thermometer can be used to monitor and manage temperatures inside the cabinet.

After 4 hours, the well rendered sections have an appealing color.

Yield, part 2:

The higher temperatures used in the smoking/roasting process remove enough fat to balance the fat/protein content. This should amount to approximately 1/3 of the total starting weight–in this case, 14 oz./400 g. If you are in the habit of saving bacon grease for other purposes, the clear fat can be used in a similar manner–hash browns, flavoring bean dishes, low temperature frying, etc.

BBQ Style:

Coat the sections and the pineapple chunks with the light barbecue sauce.

Utilize the broiler function on your kitchen oven to create the sticky pellicle. Drizzle barbecue sauce and molasses around the edge of the plate.

Place the steamed rice in the middle and top with two sections of pork belly.

Garnish with the pineapple, cucumbers and chopped parsley.

For all its faults, the high fat content assures a juicy result even after a lengthy interval in the smoker.

Taco Style:

Make the salsa according to the recipe in the ingredients section (or open a jar). Set aside.

Cut the pork belly sections into fourths and roast/fry or broil until crisp. Keep warm.

Use a lightly oiled cast iron broiler pan or skillet to sear and soften the tortillas.

Taco racks make things easier.

The order of things is up to the enthusiast’s preferences–I start with a little shredded lettuce.

Then the pork belly.

Then the salsa. The grill marks on the tortillas bring a sense of style.

All the colors of the rainbow, and then some!

A little cheese. I don’t usually keep cotija around, so we used grated parmesan. Mozzarella works too!

“Oregon style.”

All the angles.

Norm King





While most pork bellies are designated to become bacon, nitrite curing is not necessary to achieve a desirable result. The curing process itself is unrelated to the smoking process and causes changes in flavor and texture that can detract from the natural complex flavor and versatility of the fresh pork.

Contemporary preferences dictate rendering out as much fat as possible before service. In the case of bacon, frying is usually used to accomplish this.
This recipe/method supplants the frying process (and the mess that goes with it) by smoking thick slices of sous vide processed pork belly until a suitable balance of protein to fat is achieved.