chicken bacon? aka bbq pork belly? is the best thing ever.

so, yum.

i had my doubts as to whether this would work. when i was looking for pork belly recipes, most talked about long, slow methods of cooking - i.e. slow cooker, not barbecue. the bbq recipes i found basically involved pre-cooking the pork belly and then tossing it on the bbq to crisp up. one recipe looked promising until i looked at the instructions: "turn your bbq to 450 degrees, cook for 10 minutes, then drop to 350 degrees." that's not a bbq!

then i found the key word i should have been searching for all along: braai. that's the south african term for bbq, and it definitely means real charcoal in the real outdoors, not some souped-up portable oven. also, the recipe was on the south african weber site, and our bbq is a weber, so that was a good sign, too. this is one of those rare recipes i actually followed to the letter (almost). the only changes made: smaller belly with no bone (bought before looking at recipe, and went for a small piece as we are only 3 - about half a kilo), and no "bbq spice" (what does that mean?). original recipe is metric, i've made it imperial below.

this was a real hit. even the fussy kiddo said "can i have some more chicken bacon? because it's sort of like chicken with bacon on the outside." we will be doing this again.

also a hit (with grownups at least) was a simple salad of red leaf lettuce and slivered carrots, with a sesame miso dressing. lots of umami for rabbit food. the recipe is adapted from one for cucumber salad, but when i checked the crisper, our cucumber was yuck. so, carrots.

bbq pork belly (aka "chicken bacon")

  • 4 lb piece of pork belly, with a bit of bone in (ours was boneless and only 1 lb, still worked fine)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs molasses
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce

place a rack large enough to hold the pork belly on top of a deep dish. place the pork belly on top, skin side up, and pour boiling water over. set rack with belly aside to dry for at least 2 hours, preferably 3. the dryer, the better.

get the charcoal ready 20 minutes before you expect to put the meat on. you want the charcoal red hot but not flaming.

combine the ginger, pepper, and salt, and rub on the belly on all sides. brush all over with olive oil.

move the charcoal to the edges, with no charcoals in the middle, for indirect heat. place the pork belly, skin side up, on the grill not over the coals. cover and let cook for an hour.

meanwhile, make the glaze by combining the final 4 ingredients in a small bowl.

when the meat is cooked, move off the grill and gently remove the skin. brush both pieces - meat and skin - all over with glaze.

move all the coals to one side, add a few fresh pieces of charcoal, and fan to a flame. put the meat back on the grill, cut side down, away from the flame. put the skin, skin side down, directly over the flame. watch for bubbling. check often and do not overcook! turn a few times until crispy but not burnt.

cut skin and meat into 1/2" slices and serve.

sesame miso dressing

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 tbs brown rice miso paste
  • 2 tbs seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish

combine first 4 ingredients, blend till smooth.

gradually add oil and vinegar, stirring till well combined.

when tossing salad, garnish with freshly toasted sesame seeds.

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