So a few weeks ago, I came back from TipTop Meats in Carlsbad with a nearly five-pound pork belly. Only I had no pink salt (that’s salt with nitrites, for you folks playing along at home). When it finally arrived, I had to defrost the pork belly. Then it had to cure in the bacon-curing rub/brine for seven days. It took nine.

It was kind of a frazzled mess to begin with, being that I barely managed to get it in on time, and then the curing took longer than anticipated. It was a very simple brown-sugar black-pepper rub, made more complicated by the fact that the large bags we had were an utter failure in terms of zipping once any form of sugar or pepper got into the zipper. We cut the pork belly in half and cured it in two smaller bags.

We ended up holding the pork belly in the fridge another three days after the end of the cure, and Mark smoked it on February 4, while I was out playing with babysitting my niece. I’m kind of sad I missed it, as he continues to rave to this day about how perfectly the smoking went. Fortunately, he took pictures. This is what it looked like when it went on the barbecue.

Unsmoked Pork Belly

Partway through the cooking process here

Partially through cooking

All done, and with the skin peeled off:

We tried making cracklings with the skin, but didn’t remember to compensate for it already being partially cooked. Oh well … that didn’t go as planned.

What did we do with it? Well … I’d like to tell you that we did all kinds of fancy things with it, but to be honest, it was so good just plain that that’s pretty much what we did with it — kept it simple. We made BLTs. We had it plain for breakfast. We made a very good pot of beans. We made Hawaiian pizza, which was universally raved over, with fresh pineapple, homemade tomato sauce, bacon, and jalapeños.

Below is a picture of it simple for breakfast. The pics don’t do it justice; it’s fabulous, rich, smoky, perfect. Mark swears up and down to me that it was even better just straight off the grill, not even fried up. Wish I’d had a chance to try it that way, but I’m sure we’ll be doing it again.

Mmm, breakfast.

What is that delicious-looking thing we’re serving the bacon with? Just a throw-together biscuit cobbler. It’s really easy. Saute up some fresh fruit in a medium cast-iron skillet with some butter, cinnamon, and cloves. I used pears and leftover pineapple. Make your favorite drop biscuit recipe, spread it on top of the fruit in the skillet, sprinkle with a little brown sugar, and pop it in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until a cake tester inserted comes out clean of dough. (It might have fruit goo on it.) That’s it! Simple, easy, delicious.

We had a lot of bacon. Nearly five pounds is an awful lot. We still have some in the freezer, but it was so good it was hard to resist eating it just whenever. (: I’m looking forward to the next Charcutepalooza challenge, but hoping to scale it so that it’s a bit more manageable in terms of quantity of meat for a two-person family.