This post is sponsored by Meater Thermometer, which makes cooking at home so easy and fun.
Tender, succulent and rich, this recipe calls for whole pork belly slabs cooked low and slow on the Traeger in a bath of wood-fired smoke. Once it’s cooked until tender, it’s sliced like a brisket and perfect for tacos. Making this pork belly smoked like a brisket is super easy with the help of my Meater wifi thermometer system.
BACON OR BRISKET? YOU CAN’T GO WRONG
I’ve seen this cook happen a few times recently on the internet– especially from MeatChurch. Inspired by his take on pork belly smoked like a brisket, I decided to give it a whirl and use the Meater thermometer set to help me figure out the cook. I knew what I was going for– a whole slab of pork belly cooked low and slow until tender but still slice-able.
Having made pork belly in other formats many times before– my favorite being pork belly burnt ends (like the recipe featured in my cookbook)– I had a good general sense of what I was going for. Pork belly is an interesting ingredient– quite fatty with a good meaty portion on the inner side. Sometimes you can buy it with the skin on, but the one I got from came skin-free, which definitely saved a step and some effort.
Speaking of pork belly skin, did you know that Chicharrones are fried pork belly skin? I haven’t made chicharrones myself but am inspired to do so, and know that you can deep fry them or you can bake them at a high heat on the Traeger for similar results. Of course, you can also augment store-bought chicharrones by seasoning them and smoking them, kind of like my take on smoked Cheetos, which I posted on Instagram before the Super Bowl.
COOKING BY TIME, TEMP OR OTHERWISE
As I mentioned, this is a recipe I hadn’t done yet, and I wasn’t sure quite how long it would take. Especially when experimenting with cooks and discovering how long it takes to cook things on the Traeger grills, I like to use several methods to monitor the cook and figure out what is ideal.
You can always use time as a guide– but grills cook differently at altitude versus sea level, some pellets might burn hotter than others, and every piece of meat cooks differently. You could use look/touch and cook the meat based on the old trick of pushing your pointer finger on the ball of your palm to gauge done-ness. But that’s a little difficult because I’ve only eaten pork belly cooked like brisket, I haven’t cooked it before.
And then there’s temperature– which is my go-to guidepost for grilling and BBQ. It can drive my wife nuts when she asks what time everything else should be done for dinner, but I like to remind her that BBQ is ready when it’s ready. The great thing about using the new Meater thermometers is that it gives an estimated countdown to done-ness, which makes my wife’s life easier and gives me the ability to say more than “when it’s done!” when she asks.
By inserting a Meater thermometer probe in the meat before it hits the grill and then pairing it with their easy-to-use app, I am able to track the cook from start to finish, customized to the type of meat, the finish temperature I’m shooting for, etc. And throughout the cook I can glance at my phone to see what the status is, complete with a countdown timer which includes resting time.
WHY USE THE MEATER TO COOK PORK BELLY LIKE A BRISKET
To say that the Meater thermometer has made our life easier is an understatement. I don’t have to open the grill repeatedly to check the internal temperature of the meat (thus letting heat out of the grill) and we can all be on the same page about potential done times.
AND, in this cook it was particularly helpful because I cooked two slabs of pork belly at the same time, and they cooked at different rates. So rather than guesstimating when one or both might be done, we used a probe in each and got the perfect done-ness for each.It was actually kind of remarkable how differently the two pieces cooked, considering they came from the same big slab of pork belly. But it was a good reminder that cooking by internal temperature benchmarks means each cook is unique and using a Meater thermometer makes it so easy.
- Whole pork belly slab
- Seasoning of your choice- I used my Coffee Junkie from Spiceology and a blend of salt, pepper and garlic (different blend for each piece)
- Taco fixings of your preference
- We served the sliced pork belly buffet-style with a variety of taco fixings for people to make their own
- Black beans
- A variety of salsas
- We served the sliced pork belly buffet-style with a variety of taco fixings for people to make their own
WHY COOKING THIS ON THE TRAEGER WORKS
Cooking pork belly like a brisket on the Traeger is an excellent way to do it. Not only does the pork belly cook low and slow but it does so in a smoke bath that imparts a terrific flavor to the meat. To a lot of people, cooking low and slow means using a crockpot inside. But to us, low and slow means BBQ and BBQ happens on the Traeger.
By setting the temperature of the Traeger to 225* and filling the pellet hopper with apple pellets, I know that my food will cook at a consistent temperature, brought about by wood pellet fuel, with a solid base of wood-fired smoke to add flavor. By using the Meater thermometer, I don’t have to open the grill repeatedly to check the internal temperature, which allows the grill to keep it’s temperature consistent and keeps me from tracking snow in the house.
I love cooking on my Traeger for a number of reasons, especially on an occasion like this during the winter. It’s fun to grill year-round, and the flavor as a result cannot be beat. In addition, the clean-up is super easy because everything is done outdoors. Pork belly is a naturally fatty meat and when it cooks the grease renders and drips off the cook. The way a Traeger is designed, all those drippings run off into a grease bucket and makes for super simple cleanup. No chance of spilling rendered pork fat on the floor in the house when it never comes inside!
STEP BY STEP
- Preheat your Traeger grill to 225* and start up the super smoke feature if your grill has it.
- Remove the pork belly from the packaging and pat dry with a paper towel
- Depending on the size of your slab, trim it into two even pieces. I simply cut my pork belly in about half and squared up the sides a bit to give me two pretty even pieces. This will help them cook consistently.
- Season the pork belly liberally with seasoning on all sides. Then set it aside for a few minutes to sweat.
- When the grill is hot, insert the Meater thermometers in the center of each piece of pork belly, ensuring that the probe goes in to the line.
- Start up the Meater app and select pork belly as the protein. Then select the desired finish temperature of 203*.
- Place the seasoned pork belly in the center of the grill and close the lid.
- Allow the meat to cook at 225* for at least two hours.
- At the 90 minute mark, check the pork belly in the grill and see what the bark looks like. I like to ensure the meat has a good and consistent bark (that does rub off) before getting to the next step. If the bark isn’t up to your standards yet, let it keep cooking until you have a good bark and the internal temperature is around 160*.
- Pull the pork belly from the grill and wrap each piece in a square of pink butcher paper.
- Return the wrapped pork belly pieces to the grill and increase the temperature of the grill to 250*.
- Allow the pork to continue cooking on the grill at 250* until the internal temperature reaches just about 200*.
- At this point, I put on a pair of grilling gloves and pick up the wrapped pork belly. It should have some good flex and wiggle in your hands.
- Continue cooking the meat until the internal temperature on the Meater thermometer reads 203*. Use the Meater to guide your cook and the time it will take. Every piece is different.
- Once the meat hits 203*, remove the pork belly from the grill and place in a cooler to rest. Again, follow the Meater’s app for guidance on time.
- Prepare the rest of the ingredients for the tacos.
- Then remove the meat from the paper and pull out the thermometer probe.
- Using a long sharp slicing knife, slice the pork belly into ½ inch thick slices.
- Assemble tacos to your preference and enjoy!
RECIPES SIMILAR TO PORK BELLY SMOKED LIKE A BRISKET
Pork belly is a great thing to cook on your Traeger, and there are lots of different ways to do it. A few recipes I’ve shared on my blog include:
- Asian shredded pork belly
- Pork Belly burnt ends
- I also have a pork belly burnt ends recipe in my cookbook, which you can pick up here
Products used in this cook:
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Pork Belly Smoked Like a Brisket
- Meater wifi thermometer
- Traeger grill
- Pink butcher paper
- 1 slab pork belly skin removed (about # pounds
- 1/2 cup seasoning of your choice I used my Coffee Junkie from Spiceology and a blend of salt, pepper and garlic
- 12 warmed flour tortillas
- Taco fixings of your preference- like coleslaw, black beans and a variety of salsas.
- Preheat your Traeger to 225*, using the Super Smoke feature
- Unwrap the pork belly and pat it dry
- Trim the pork belly into two even pieces
- Season each piece generously with seasoning of your choice. I used two different seasonings- one for each piece
- Set the meat aside to let it sweat
- Insert a Meater probe into each piece of meat and set up the app for Pork Belly and a finish temp of 203*
- Put the seasoned pork belly in the center of the grill and close the lid
- Allow the pork belly to cook at 225* for at least two hours, using the Meater to guide you
- After 90 minutes, check the bark development and allow to continue cooking until 160* is reached internally
- Remove the pork belly from the grill and wrap each piece in pink butcher paper
- Put the wrapped pork back in the grill and increase the temperature of the Traeger to 250*
- Continue cooking the pork on the grill at 250* until the internal temperature reaches just about 200* (again using the Meater as your guide)
- Check the softness and wiggle of the meat by picking up each wrapped piece with gloved hands- it should start to be pretty soft
- Cook the meat until the internal temperature on the Meater thermometer reads 203*
- Once the meat hits 203*, pull the meat from the grill and allow to rest in a cooler, using the Meater app as your guide
- Prep the rest of the ingredients for serving– we made tacos
- Then remove the meat from the cooler and the paper and pull out the thermometer probe
- Using a long sharp slicing knife, slice the pork belly into ½ inch thick slices
- Then assemble into tacos and enjoy