19 (Fri) August 2011
Gold Mountain Pork Belly
at the cabin
-Changchon, Seowon, Hoengseong, Gangwon, Republic of Korea-
with W, Mom and Dad, TB staff
Gold Mountain Pork Belly is an American-style dish. It’s meat coated in dry-rub, barbecued slow and low in a closed kettle grill. Based on a technique introduced to me by MtG, who occasionally makes something like it when we go car camping. I’m naming it after hime – his real name is Geum San (금산), which literally means “Gold Mountain,” so all of his internet aliases and logins comprise some form of GoldMt or MtGold (MtG).
The first dish by my own hand that I’ve felt worthy of 4.0.
The dry-rub is a combination of salt + pepper + sugar + dried thyme + dried oregano + ground coriander + ground cumin + cayenne powder + chili powder + garlic powder + ginger powder + paprika powder + celery powder + onion powder + “cajun spice mix” (from Costco) + “dry-rub mix” (from Goode’s BBQ). I’ve never bothered to measure out the amounts, but it always turns out more-or-less the same. Someday, I’ll attempt to nail down a recipe.
Beyond the dry-rub, the only other technique is cooking temperature. It requires a kettle grill, in which coals underneath can be set to the sides, with the meat on top in the center, such that the heat is indirect. A pan of water between the coals adds steam to the environment and helps to keep the surface of the meat from drying out and scorching. MtG sometimes tosses in a few soaked wood chips on the coals for smoke, but I prefer the cleaner flavor without. The temperature starts at around 300 degrees centigrade and gradually dies down to about 150 degrees after 1 hour, which is maintained for another 1 hour. The temperature is monitored constantly and adjusted when necessary through the opening/closing of the air vents, or adding more coals. Extreme cold or hot weather can be a major factor. After 2 hours, relatively free of fuss, a big pile of meat is ready to go, a good way to feed a lot of people at once.
As for the type of meat, pork bellies are ideal. A lot of the fat drips off during the cooking while moisturizing the flesh in the process. Another benefit of having so much fat is that overcooking isn’t a concern, as can be the case with chicken or ribs; leaving the pork bellies in the grill until they need to be served, even for another hour or so, so long as they don’t burn, they stay juicy. As noted above, the pork bellies can be with or without skin, depending on personal preference. MtG rests the meat wrapped in foil for about 1 hour to firm up the flesh/fat and make them easier to slice/serve; indeed, they can be eaten hours later at room temperature, at which point they have the taste and texture of ham, especially when they’ve been smoked. I prefer to serve them after about only 20 minutes of resting, just enough to allow the juices to be reabsorbed, at which point the flesh/fat is soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.
The occasion was a company retreat for the employees of my father’s company. My mother enlisted me as grill master. Everyone seemed to enjoy the pork bellies.
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