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How to buy pork belly?

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    How to buy pork belly?

    Hi All,

    Made my first attempt at PBBE using a combo of techniques learned/linked from here. Came out pretty good. Gonna keep working on it until I find the perfect flavor combo for my palate.

    The biggest issue I had was buying the belly. First time buying one. I called my local butcher, asked if they could have a 3 to 4 lb boneless slab ready for me to pickup. I also asked if they could remove the skin for me. "No problem," said they.

    I showed up at the prescribed time and picked up my package (also had a rack of ribs) and noticed that the belly slab was frozen. Didn't think too much of it.

    When I opened it after I got home, sure enough, skin was still on. Also, it wasn't a very good belly. Thinner on one side, and one end of it was all fat and skin with no meat.

    Getting the skin off was a PITA, even with a nice, sharp knife. I'd rather not do that every time. In the end, after I thawed it, removed the skin, and got it all cubed up, it was all fine and well, but I probably had a pound of waste off a 4 lb slab. (I know pork fat and skin isn't "waste", just an expression...please don't send letters).

    My question is: Is it unreasonable to ask the butcher to remove the skin for me? If I call ahead to a butcher should I have to stop and unwrap and inspect everything before I pay for it? Do I just need a better butcher? I'm in something of a butcher desert, and people seem to love these local guys, but I've yet to have a great experience with them.

    Thanks for your advice.



    #2
    I've only reliably found pork belly at two locations, one is the commissary on base and the other is the large pork center we have here. I've been told however that any Asian market will carry or at least source it for you on request. So if you don't have access to a military base, and you don't live where I do (lucky you), then you should still probably have an Asian market in driving distance hopefully and it never hurts to ask.

    I like it with the skin on, you can make cracklins. I use either a filet knife or my brisket sword to get the skin off, angle the blade towards the skin and lightly saw as you pull the skin with your other hand.
    Last edited by ItsAllGoneToTheDogs; November 25, 2019, 06:04 PM.

    Comment


      #3
      I understand Costco has them.

      Was the "local butcher" a meat department in a grocery or an actual butcher shop? A small butcher shop should be more customer service oriented and would apologise for forgetting to remove the skin. I guess lesson learned it to check it before you leave next time.

      Other than that I can't help much, I raise and butcher hogs, so I don't buy in stores.

      Comment


      • Craigar
        Craigar commented
        Editing a comment
        ComfortablyNumb Have you re-established your herd?

      • ComfortablyNumb
        ComfortablyNumb commented
        Editing a comment
        Craigar Not yet. Hopefully this spring, and bees too.

      #4
      only did it once. megs load of PBBEs from a 8 lb slab from Costco.

      Comment


      • HawkerXP
        HawkerXP commented
        Editing a comment
        I never inhaled..

      • Razor
        Razor commented
        Editing a comment
        Sorry I’m lost on this one. Can you please explain?

      #5
      Costco. If you got one with skin though, make cracklins. Way better than burnt ends in my opinion

      Comment


        #6
        By all means I would complain to your butcher. He said he would remove the skin, he should have. Most butchers (or better called meat cutters) are small business folk and have to covet their customers. Costco, Asian markets and most higher end groceries should carry belly. If not try an online source.

        Comment


          #7
          I usually get belly from the local oriental (Vietnamese) market. Theirs is generally better quality than the supermarket, but come skin on. I have never asked them to remove the skin as there is a severe language barrier. I've also gotten belly from Publix market and had them remove the skin and, in one case, sliced.

          Comment


            #8
            Costco for me. Never can get a Tri-tip at my Costco but they always have pork belly. Must be a trade-off kind of thing with my location.

            Comment


            • Craigar
              Craigar commented
              Editing a comment
              Same here. When they do have tri-tip they have been blade tenderized. I don't understand it. My Costco blade tenderizes almost all of their beef, with the exception of packer briskets and anything else that is still in the cryovac bags.

            #9
            As others have mentioned, Costco is the way to go. In my area, it comes ready for the smoker, just cut in cubes to desired size, season and smoke. No skin included in the Costco package.

            Not that you are asking, but just want to pass this along. Check out Malcolm Reed BBQ Right channel on YouTube, and look for his pork belly burnt ends video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nL82hlORY-k

            Follow his recipe and you will be rewarded.

            Here is a photo of how the pork belly is presented at our local Costco stores.
            Click image for larger version  Name:	36A71B81-4C33-41F6-BA83-A627E730C361.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	2.65 MB ID:	773605
            Cheers,
            Ricardo
            Last edited by Ricardo; November 26, 2019, 05:42 PM. Reason: Fixing typos and adding info

            Comment


            • Ricardo
              Ricardo commented
              Editing a comment
              Not sure, in any case, I usually get 2 🤓.

            • gcdmd
              gcdmd commented
              Editing a comment
              I watched Malcolm Reed's video after I posted my comment. He had the same thing you have pictured. I never thought about it before, but that is probably the standard way they are sold. My comment was just an old anatomy instructor's observation.

            • Ricardo
              Ricardo commented
              Editing a comment
              Malcom’s recipe is a winner!!!
              Give it a try, you won’t go wrong. As far as the anatomy, I agree with you. I’m thinking just like with a packer brisket, it’s cut longitudinally, thus leaving 2 mirror flaps. They do seem to vary in size and weight significantly, so do some inspection before buying so you get more evenly or symmetrical sections. I’m referring to Costco’s products, not sure how other stores present their offerings.

            #10
            Not sure this particular comment belongs here, but this discussion about pork belly brings me back to this awesome Arepa con Pork Belly y queso blanco. Simply the best.
            Cheers,
            Ricardo
            Click image for larger version

Name:	494E748A-0E86-4F8B-BA42-7B71248B256A.jpeg
Views:	2163
Size:	201.0 KB
ID:	773627

            Comment


              #11
              +1 for Costco. Mine always has big, skinless bellies.

              Comment


                #12
                Costco is a great resource if your local grocery store doesn't sell them. Also, if you're on the fence about buying 8-10 lbs. of pork belly, there are times when they have them cut into strips, usually 4 or 5 to a package, and then all you have to do is cube them up. Usually these smaller packages run 3-4 lbs. each and come in handy for smaller cooks in a pinch. Meaning, as soon as you get home. Lately I have been using half of the big package for PBBEs and the other half for bacon. Win-win baby!

                Comment


                  #13
                  I can't often get to a Costco - the nearest one is 250 miles away. I can sometimes find them at Sam's Club - the two closest are only 130 miles away - but they don't always have them. Did I mention that we don't live at the end of the world but you can see it from here?

                  I find them regularly at our local Albertson's but I don't know where all their stores are located. Wherever I find them I have to check closely to find one with a decent meat/fat ratio but with the way they are packaged it is often still a guessing game. They have always had the skin removed.

                  Comment

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