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Smoked Pork Belly Recipe from James Beard Award Semifinalist

Smokey, sweet and salty– a good meal in one dish!

Get a recipe for the tasty Smoked Pork Belly we tried with Chef Matthew McClure, a semifinalist for “Best Chef: South” in the James Beard Foundation Awards. It’s tasty!

While filming in Arkansas for “Travels with Darley” both for our channel on the AOL On Network and our new Public Television series, we had the opportunity to meet and eat with Chef Matthew McClure at The Hive at 21c. One of our nation’s top chef’s, McClure was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and grew up utilizing the abundance of homegrown vegetables and meats in this agriculturally blessed state.

On our visit, we tried a number of great dishes, but the Smoked Pork Belly really stood out. ––. Below is the recipe, so you can try to recreate it at home… and if you fail, just head to Bentonville, Arkansas and give McClure a shout. He’ll cook some up for you.

Check out photos, too, from our visit and watch for McClure in our “Southern States Road Trip” episode, where we feature great Southern chefs, food and ways to work it all off through fun, adventurous activities.

Smoked Pork Belly with Mop Sauce Recipe: Step by Step

4-5# pork belly

Soaked wood chips for smoking

Rub Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup sweet paprika
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup aleppo pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ancient spice
  • 2 tablespoons each, onion and garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne

How to make the Rub:
1. Rub belly thoroughly and refrigerate for 24 hours.

2. Smoke at 325 degrees for 2 hours; or internal temp of 150.

Pickled Vegetables Ingredients:

  • 6 ea zucchini washed and sliced into 1/4 “ rounds
  • 2 c. White wine vinegar
  • 1 1/3 c. Rice wine Vinegar
  • 5 c. Water
  • 5 c. Sugar
  • 1/4 c. Fennel Seed
  • 1/4 c. Coriandar
  • 2 tsp Pink Peppercorn
  • 1/2 tsp. Allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. Cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. Juniper
  • 1/2 tsp. Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. Black peppercorns
  • 4 each Bay Leaf
  • 1/3 cup. Salt

How to make the Pickled Vegetables:
1. In a large saute pan, add fennel seed, coriander. Pink peppercorn, allspice, cardamom, juniper, cloves, black peppercorns. Heat pan on a stove for 1-3 minutes with medium heat. Stir spices around to evenly toast everything. Once the spices have lightly browned and you can smell the aromatic perfume, remove from heat.

2. To make the brine mix toasted spices, water, sugar and salt into a large pot and bring to a simmer.

3. Allow the brine to gently simmer for 5 minutes.

4. As the brine is still simmering, add the zucchini and poach until barely tender.

5. Remove the pot from the stove and pour the pickle into a large shallow pan and allow to cool.

6. Once cool, the zucchini is ready to use.

Mop* Sauce Ingredients:
*A mop sauce is a thin liquid that’s brushed or mopped onto food during cooking to infuse a flavor.

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups honey
  • 2 T Marash
  • 1 t ground allspice
  • 1 t ground mustard

To finish the dish:

Slice the pork into ½” slabs, and warm on a grill or in a pan in the oven. Gently apply the mop. Serve with the pickles, at room temperature.

See how we liked this dish, below, in our photos from our visit.

With Chef Matthew McClure at The Hive at 21c.

With Chef Matthew McClure at The Hive at 21c.

A bounty of vegetables sourced locally in Arkansas

A bounty of vegetables sourced locally in Arkansas.

21c is a museum hotel, meaning you can dine at The Hive and enjoy art in the gallery

21c is a museum hotel, meaning you can dine at The Hive and enjoy art in the gallery.

These penguins move around 21c. It's quirky. It's cool. It's art!

These penguins move around 21c. It’s quirky. It’s cool. It’s art!

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Travels with Darley is a travel TV series broadcast on PBS stations and on digital networks, including the AOL On Network. Host Darley Newman of "Equitrekking" fame joins locals to showcase the top food, culture and adventure attractions in the USA and around the globe.

TravelswithDarley.com is the companion site with travel guides, videos and information so viewers can recreate the adventures seen on the series and beyond.

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