- 1 (3 lb) slab of pork belly
- 4 tablespoons salt, divided
- ¼ cup fresh ground black pepper
- 1 cup molasses
- 2 cups maple syrup
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 3 cups dry pinto beans
- 1 ham hock
- 1 large yellow onion (finely chopped)
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 6 chicken bouillon cubes
- Oil for deep fat fryer
- 6 granny smith apples (cored and ¼ inch chunk)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ pound of butter
- Hickory smoked BBQ sauce for serving
- Green onions for garnish
Place the pinto beans in a bowl and add enough water to cover beans with 2 – 3 inches of water. Soak 12 hours or overnight.
Place pork belly slab, fat side up, in a baking pan at least 6 inches deep and score surface ¼ inch deep. Smear the scored side with molasses, season with 2 tablespoons of salt and ¼ cup black pepper. Broil 5 – 7 minutes until molasses is bubbly and almost caramelized. Remove pork belly from broiler.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pour maple syrup under the pork belly, place the three sticks of cinnamon on top and add enough water to almost cover the pork belly. Seal with aluminum foil and bake for 3 ½ hours. Remove from oven, cool and refrigerator overnight.
Drain and rinse beans, transfer to a crock pot. Add the thyme, remaining 2 tablespoons of salt, black pepper to taste, chopped onion, chicken bouillon and smoked ham hock. Add enough water to cover mixture with at least two inches of water. Cook in crock pot on high for at least four hours or until beans are tender.
Cut the cooked pork belly into 2 inch by 2 inch pieces. Heat a deep fat fryer to 350 degrees (or 3 inches of oil in a cast iron skillet). Place two pieces of pork belly into the deep fat fryer at a time, and cook until just crispy. Repeat with remaining pieces of pork. The pork belly should still be tender and juicy inside.
While the pork is cooking core and slice apples, toss slices in sugar to coat. Preheat a heavy skillet on medium high heat, add butter and coated apple slices, cook until apples are tender and caramelized. Mix apples into the cooked pinto beans.
Place 1 cup of bean mixture in the center of a medium sized plate. Place a few pieces of the pork belly on top of the beans. Drizzle a bit of BBQ sauce over the pork belly and beans. Garnish with chopped green onion. Serve hot – warm.