Few meat dishes are as indulgent as Ember Yard’s Hot Smoked Gloucester Old Spot Pork Belly with Smoked Apple and Cider Glaze. The fat is crisp and sweet, while the meat is soft and melting: no wonder it’s such a big hit with our lunchtime crowd.
Here, Head Chef Jacques Fourie – whose Afrikaans background is steeped in meat-eating culture – takes us through the recipe and shows how you can make it at home. Your barbecuing will never be the same again.
Choose your pork wisely
We use Gloucester Old Spot pork as it has a good meat-to-fat ratio. We take out the ribs, cut it into kilo-sized portions then salt it heavily with rock salt for four/five hours. That draws out the moisture, firms the flesh up and helps take on the smoke flavour, which comes after. We rinse it off then we’re ready to start smoking.
The cold smoke
Now things start to get exciting. We put the meat into the smoker, for a ‘cold smoke’ – we’re not cooking it here, it actually stays raw – to impart flavour. Once that’s done we cook it overnight in the oven with more wood for even more smoke taste. The temperature stays low at about 90°C degrees, which is why it’s so soft when we take it out. Then it goes into a hot oven with the glaze – made from cider, apple cider and brown sugar – to finish it off.
Doing it at home
Most people don’t have access to a smoker, but all of this can be done on a barbecue. You need one that you can close as you want to create an oven effect – a Weber or a drum-shaped one is best. Make a medium-size fire on one side with the charcoal – it’s important to have both a ‘cold’ and ‘hot’ side – and add smoking chips. Even better: if you can get hold of a log, use that instead as it will give you more smoke than the chips. Soaking it the night before stops it catching fire so it’ll just smoke.
Cooking it right
Start the meat off above the fire to give it some colour then move it to the cold side and close the lid. Leave it for three to four hours – 120/140°C. Most modern barbecues have a temperature gauge on them, but if yours doesn’t, use the ‘hand method’: if you can keep it above the flames for upward of 10 seconds it’s around 100 degrees.
After an hour and a half of cooking you might need to add more charcoal, so keep an eye on that. Then towards the end of the cooking period open the lid to get it super-hot again, and move the pork belly over the flames. That way you’ll get beautifully crisp fat, and meat that tastes like sweet, soft bacon.
Ember Yard’s Hot Smoked Gloucester Old Spot Pork Belly with Smoked Apple and Cider Glaze is available at lunch and dinner time. Book your table here.