A Sunday morning rarely goes by without me lamenting.
No, I’m not sad that I’ve chosen to stay a while in an RV down by the Galveston Bay. Neither am I upset that — after six years writing these pages — I have but 20 loyal followers.
It’s really about the eggs. And bacon.
Though the Jimmy Rockford is outfitted with a full kitchen, I do most of my cooking outdoors. On an old Coleman stove. In a cast iron Dutch oven. Atop Adam’s Little Astrodome, my cheap charcoal grill. I even do sous vide in an old stockpot, which sits just outside my flimsy door.
I’ve made some wonderful steaks, succulent Gulf seafood and even a dessert or two out of doors, but nothing causes neighborhood envy like the aroma of bacon wafting through the Sunday morning air. The excitement of Saturday night NCIS reruns, however, always seems to clip the memory of my intentions … and the bacon continues to gather frost in my tiny freezer.
Go figure that a raw pork belly — the very genesis of bacon — captures my attention. It didn’t happen on a Sunday morning, and there were no fried egg compliments. In fact, the process took half a week. A pain, really. And worth every succulent bite.
If you have a smoker, great. If not, a cheap kettle grill works just fine. (Notice the photo of my pork belly on said grill?) If you don’t own a slow-cooker, what the hell is wrong with you? Go get one, for crying out loud!
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Bacon Burnt Ends
- 2½-3 lb – Pork belly, skin removed
- 1 TB – Light brown sugar
- 1 TB – Kosher salt
- ¼ cup – Light brown sugar
- 2 TB – Coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 TB – Kosher salt
- 1 TB – Paprika
- Rub light brown sugar and Kosher salt all over the pork belly; place in zip-close bag and refrigerate for 3-4 days, flipping daily.
- Remove pork from zip-close bag; rinse thoroughly and pat dry.
- If you own a smoker, smoke the pork belly fat-side up over hardwood (oak, hickory or pecan) until it reaches 195°F internally. The slower (6 hours or more), the better.
- Soak a couple handfuls of hardwood chunks in water while preparing the coals for cooking, about 20-30 minutes.
- Fill grill about halfway up with hardwood chunks (oak, hickory or pecan); burn until the wood has turned to coals.
- Using a small trowel or other tool, move coals to one side of the grill; place aluminum drip pan on other side (next to coals), and fill with water, apple juice or beer.*
- Place soaked wood on coals.
- Put grate on the grill and place pork belly – fat-side up – directly over the drip pan (away from coals).
- Cover grill and allow to smoke for about 2 hours.
- Remove pork belly from grill and place in slow cooker with about 2 TB of water; cook on low for 4 hours.
- Remove pork belly from slow cooker or smoker and refrigerate until firm – at least overnight.
- Cut lengthwise (as if you were cutting bacon) into 1-inch slices; then cross slice to create 2-inch cubes.
- Place cubed pork belly in disposable aluminum roasting pan.
- Top with all ingredients on Topping list.
- Place pan over medium-high grill and cook, stirring regularly, until much of the fat has rendered and the topping has reduced to a syrupy consistency, about 20 minutes.
- Remove meat from pan with a slotted spoon.
- Serve in sandwiches, tacos or even on a platter with toothpicks.