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Pork Belly Double Cheese Bites

by Brad Prose
pork belly cheese bites

Pork Belly Double Cheese Bites

Yes you read that correctly. I’m sure if you were browsing and saw the headline you couldn’t help but click to discover the wonder behind that combination of words.

You won’t be shamed for it. It deserved your click.

Pork belly is something I don’t make often at all, and I absolutely love and crave. I’ve been watching what I eat lately – having to sit down 10+ hours a day for work – so our meals have been on the healthier side. I am ready for crispy pork fat and smoke.

pork belly seasoned and ready for the smoker

Putting together a crave-able dish.

Not being able to go out and buy exactly what I want, my journey of brainstorming took me straight to the pantry. Straight to that beautiful blue box of processed mac n’ cheese. Cheese and pork, it’s gotta be a thing right? I mean, there’s pulled pork mac n’ cheese. Ham and cheese sandwiches. SOLD. I don’t need to debate this combo any further.

My kids don’t like the powdered cheese, I always make them a cheese sauce from scratch. This was a great opportunity to finally work on my idea for a cheese salt: a cheese-flavored finishing salt for meats, popcorn, rice, anything-you-want-cheese-on.

Cheese sauce with some pickled mustard seeds I happened to make recently sounded like a great sauce. I wanted something to dip all of this in. Those little pops of bright flavors ended up being the star that tied everything together too.

Popcorn?  Sure why not.  I need some more texture to soak up everything.  Bread not necessary.  Let’s call it the vegetable on the plate, even if it was popped in bacon fat…

pork belly cheese bites with popcorn, melted cheese, and cheese salt

Let’s put this together.

This isn’t a dish that you could assemble without some planning. It’s definitely a dish you want to plan for. There’s 4 main components:

  • Pork belly – rubbed & smoked, you can make the rest while this is on the smoker.
  • Cheese salt – 3 minutes of finding & mixing a couple of ingredients.
  • Bacon fat popcorn – 2 minutes in the microwave.
  • Cheese sauce – OK this one is tricky. I use a secret, “cheffy” ingredient called Sodium Citrate. (NOT sodium nitrate, which is completely different and could cause some injury if you mixed up the two!) It takes only 5 minutes to make the sauce, but you need the citrate. Trust me, you WANT this sauce.

NOTE: You’ll see that the recipe says “chile powder”. I’m not trying to make this more complicated than it already is.  Use what tastes good.  I make my own chile powder which is a 70/30 mix of toasted guajillos & arbols ground up.  You can use chipotle powder, New Mexico chile powder, or whatever else you have on hand.

pork belly prep
pork belly searing on the grill
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pork belly cheese bites

Pork Belly Double Cheese Bites

  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 120
  • Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 68 1x
  • Category: Pork
  • Method: smoking
  • Cuisine: snack

Description

This is your combo of no-regret, delicious textures and flavors. Creamy cheese, crispy & smokey pork, and crunchy popcorn sprinkled with a spicy cheese salt. No. Regrets.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 lbs pork belly
Pork Rub
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp chile powder
  • ½ Tbsp black pepper
  • ½ Tbsp ground mustard powder
Cheese Salt
  • 1 packet of boxed mac n’ cheese powder
  • 1 Tbsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp chile powder
  • 1 Tbsp coarse salt
Cheese Sauce
  • 265 g milk
  • 11 g sodium citrate
  • 285 g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 Tbsp pickled mustard seeds (see note)
  • 1 tsp chile powder
Bacon Fat Popcorn
  •  cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 Tbsp bacon fat, slightly melted

Instructions

  1. Preheat your smoker to 250˚F.
  2. Mix the rub ingredients together.
  3. Place the pork belly on your cutting board fat side down. Make 1″ vertical slices in the pork belly, cutting only partway through (do not slice through). This allows for more smoke, rub, and crispness from finishing on the grill.
  4. Coat all sides with the mixed rub, making sure to get some into the vertical slices as well.
  5. Place into the smoker and smoke for about 2 hours, until around 200˚F. When it reaches this temp, remove and wrap in foil.
  6. Prepare your smoker or grill for direct grilling, 450-500˚F. Remove the pork belly from the foil and place on the grill, each side for 2 minutes. Be careful of flare ups, making sure you don’t burn the side with fat. Slice into cubes when ready to serve.
  7. Cheese Salt – Mix all ingredients together.
  8. Cheese Sauce – Put the milk and sodium citrate in a sauce pan on medium heat, whisking until it’s starting to bubble and the salt has dissolved. Slowly mix in bits of the cheese while whisking until it’s all incorporated. Add in the paprika and mustard seeds and remove from heat. The sauce will start to thicken as it cools.
  9. Popcorn – Place the kernels and fat in a paper bag, rolling it very tight. Shake so the kernels are evenly coated. Microwave for 2 minutes or until the kernels are popped.
  10. Pour cheese sauce on the plate, then pork belly, popcorn, and sprinkle with the cheese salt.

Notes

Use whatever chile powder that you like for the recipe.  This recipe uses pickled mustard seeds, please see website for recipe if you use. You may substitute with a coarse mustard.It won’t make or break the outcome, keep it easy!

Keywords: pork, cheese, pork belly, bacon, smoking

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2 comments

Emilio May 3, 2020 - 4:44 am

Hello, thank you for the recipe, I’m new doing this, and have a question, on step 6 you put “Place into the smoker and smoke for about 2 hours, until around 200˚F. When it reaches this temp, remove and wrap in foil.” When I wrap it, is there a time I should keep wrap?
Thank you!

Reply
Brad Prose May 5, 2020 - 1:06 pm

This is a GREAT question! Just rest it enough until your grill is searing hot, my assumption is 5-10 minutes while you are getting ready to sear. It’s not necessary to let this rest like you would a piece of beef, but you also don’t want to completely overcook it when searing.

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