Rib-On Belly

The Eaters Write

One of our members was exclaiming recently over the rib-on pork belly we recently began offering. Belly is nothing more than the side of the pig, attached to the pig’s rib cage. It is usually trimmed off of the ribs, placed in the smoker, sliced into strips and voila! You have bacon. The remaining ribs are what we know as spare ribs. (I guess they call them spare ribs because it is what is left after the belly is removed?) Instead, we will from time to time leave the ribs attached to the belly slab and package them in 2 rib sets.

Here is the Wood Family approach to Rib-on Pork Belly. Mr. Wood explained that he marinated it in apple juice and “some other stuff” (I should have asked) for about 3-4 hours. He then put it on the grill with aluminum foil under it and poured the apple juice over it. Cooked it over low heat for three hours. Declared it the best of the best of our various cuts. We agree. Try the Wood recipe. It sure sounds right.

Rib-on Belly

Many of you will find rib-on belly in your cooler. This is a new cut we have sort of invented. The belly, which is not a “belly” at all, is the pork which hangs along the side of the pig attached to the rib cage. The belly is normally separated from the ribs and either made into bacon or left as a slab of pork for roasting, grilling or braising. The trimmed ribs are then provided separately as “spare” ribs or baby-backs. Our new cut leaves the rib bone attached and is packaged in 2-rib pieces. Why the change? Because the less you cut on meat and the closer it remains to the bone, the better the flavor.

So how do you cook this cut. First, refer to the JVF cooking book. It will cook no differently than the guidance given for boneless pork belly. But this is the important point to remember: This cut will withstand a lot of direct fire, so grilling is a perfect way to cook it. You always want to start it over direct heat and get it good and crispy outside. Then you can move it to a cooler part of the grill, allowing it to finish cooking on the inside. Or put it under the oven broiler and get both sides crusty, then lower your oven to 350 to finish it. A meat thermometer is a good tool to make sure it is cooked all the way to the bone.

The rib-on pork belly is a work of art. I know you will enjoy it.