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Pulled Pork Belly

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When you think of pork belly, you likely think of bacon. Most people do, but I’m telling you you’ve never tasted anything like a pork belly prepared similar to a pork shoulder. The pulled pork you get from this cut is unforgettable.

The belly is the most succulent and rich part of the hog and the flavor is unreal. There are countless directions you can take this recipe. Use it as a base for anything from traditional pulled pork BBQ sandwiches, to pork enchiladas, to Asian-style tacos —- the possibilities are endless. Have fun with this recipe and create something unusual and different each time you make it.

Step-by-step with photos | Download recipe (PDF – 293 KB)

Pulled Pork Belly

Serves: 12-14 | Prep time: 1 hour | Cook time: 6-7 hours

Ingredients

7-10 lbs Pork Belly
1 ½ cup Apple Juice
2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 TBS Soy Sauce
1 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar
1 6 oz Bottle of Head Country Championship Seasoning —- The Original
Yellow Mustard

Equipment

Grill or Smoker
Peach wood chunks
Meat injector
Meat thermometer
Aluminum foil

Directions

  1. Combine apple juice, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and 2 TBS of Head Country Championship Seasoning – The Original, into a blender and blend thoroughly.
  2. Transfer the mixture from the blender to a meat injector and inject the belly in a grid pattern, about every inch and a half. Let it rest for an hour or so in the fridge.
  3. While the pork belly is resting in the fridge after injection, start the cooker and preheat it to 245°F.
  4. Remove the pork belly from its packaging.
  5. Rub mustard all over the pork belly, coating thinly.
  6. Generously sprinkle the entire surface and sides with Head Country Championship Seasoning.
  7. Add your wood chunks to the coals and place the pork belly into the cooker at 245°F and cook for about 3 to 3.5 hours.
  8. Remove belly from cooker and wrap in 2 layers of aluminum foil. Add about a ½ cup of additional apple juice and a meat temperature probe before sealing foil.
  9. Return the wrapped belly to the cooker for about another 3 hours.
  10. When meat reaches 198°F–203°F degrees, remove from the cooker and open the foil slightly to release the steam. Let cool for about 15 minutes.
  11. Close the foil back up around the belly, and wrap the bundle in a towel.
  12. Place the wrapped belly into an insulated cooler. Let it rest for about an hour.
  13. Unwrap the belly, pull the meat like you would a normal pork shoulder, and serve.

Step-by-Step

Step 1: To make the injection, combine apple juice, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and 2 TBS of Head Country Championship Seasoning, into a blender and blend thoroughly.

Step 2: Transfer the mixture from the blender to a meat injector and inject the belly in a grid pattern about every inch and a half. The belly isn’t as thick as a shoulder so insert the needle at an angle and only go in about ¾”. Leaving the pork belly in its cellophane packaging when injecting prevents the injection from squirting all over your kitchen and saves a ton of cleanup time. Once I inject the belly, I like to let it rest for an hour or so in the fridge so the injection has a chance to incorporate into the meat.

Step 3: While the pork belly is resting in the fridge after injection, start the cooker and preheat it to 245°F. If using a grill, be sure to set it up for two-zone heat.

Step 4: After an hour in the refrigerator, remove the pork belly from its packaging.

Step 5: Rub mustard all over the pork belly. You’re just looking for a very thin coat here and, while the mustard won’t add or otherwise change the flavor, it does act as a great binder to hold your rub on the meat.

Step 6: Generously sprinkle the entire surface and sides with Head Country Championship Seasoning.

Step 7: Add your wood chunks to the coals and place the pork belly into the cooker at 245°F and cook for about 3 to 3.5 hours. At this point, the pork has taken about all the smoke it’s going to take and what I’m really looking for here is color. I don’t even check internal temperature, I really just want that mahogany color on the surface of the pork belly. When the color is right, it’s time to wrap it in aluminum foil.

Step 8: Remove belly from cooker and wrap in 2 layers of aluminum foil. Before I seal up the foil, I add about a ½ cup of additional apple juice and my meat temperature probe. There is plenty of fat that will render out and keep it moist, but I find the apple juice just helps to keep the pork a touch on the sweet side.

Step 9: Return the wrapped belly to the cooker for about another 3 hours. In addition to wrapping it in the foil, I also like to place the belly into a disposable aluminum pan as well, just to catch anything that may leak out. At this point I am looking for a couple things, internal temp of about 198°F–203°F degrees and the ability to slide a toothpick into the meat and pull it back out with little to no resistance.

Step 10: When both temp and “feel” have been achieved, remove from the cooker and open the foil slightly to release the steam. I let it cool down like this for about 15 minutes.

Step 11: Close the foil back up around the belly and wrap the entire bundle in a towel that you don’t mind getting messy. (I have a handful I keep for this sort of thing.)

Step 12: Place the wrapped belly into into an insulated cooler (without ice of course) and let it rest for about an hour. You can go longer if you like and that’s one of the great things about pork belly and shoulder. I recommend letting them rest for at least an hour, but I have rested them for up to 5 hours in the past and they are still perfect. This allows you to have some flexibility for serving time, etc. and the longer it rests (within reason) the better the meat is.

Step 13: Unwrap the belly, pull the meat like you would a normal pork shoulder, and serve. Pork belly will pull off in strands, much like string cheese.

Printable Recipe

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