Grilled Pork Belly and Philly Cheese Steaks

CHARLOTTE, NC – Today we’re putting a spin on an old favorite and a new spin on which you’ll go “wild”. Grill master Ernie Adler cooks “Pig Candy” and Cheese steaks.

First, a great appetizer with pork belly. We all had nature’s perfect food with our favorite breakfast; Bacon. This delicious meat comes from what is called pork belly, but there are so many other things you can do with it than just make bacon. Today we make what I affectionately call “pig candy”. Head to your local grocery store and buy a nice slice of pork belly. It is usually sold in the fresh meat/butcher’s section, either packaged or cut to order. A slab will usually measure about 12 x 12. Prepare it by first inspecting and cutting the hard side with a fillet knife and cut into long strips about 2 inches wide. Then generously rub your favorite seasoning on both sides and refrigerate overnight. I use the same rub I use on my pulled pork. When you’re ready to cook it, preheat your grill or smoker to 275 degrees and add your favorite wood for smoke. As the grill heats up, allow your griddle to come to room temperature. If you’re using a grill or smoker, you’ll use indirect heat so the fat doesn’t burn. Put the plate on and bake until it reaches 175 degrees, flipping it once halfway when it reaches about 85 degrees. At 175, start basting it with your favorite sweet barbecue sauce and basting again every 10 minutes until the thickest part reaches 200 degrees. Peel off and let rest before cutting into small pieces. You can serve with toothpicks and barbecue sauce for dipping or on a slice of toasted baguette.

Next, we’ll put a new spin on an old favorite, the Philly Cheesesteak. Many people use thinly cut sirloin strips for these sandwiches, but the best way is to use rib eye or even a strip. Sirloin is a tougher cut and you will need to cut even thinner than the others so it won’t be chewy, but the others are much tastier cuts and have better marbling. Buy thinly cut ribeye steaks and cut them into thin strips. Add kosher salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder and a pinch of Worcestershire sauce. Mix the meat and leave to cool overnight. You will also need to cut some peppers and onions into thin strips, and instead of traditional American cheese or whiz cheese, we will use smoked provolone. For the bread, use a salted pretzel roll or a traditional club roll. When you’re ready to cook, heat your grill to 450 degrees, place a cast iron skillet or griddle and heat it up. The pan is hot enough when you add a few drops of water and it sizzles immediately. Add a little oil to the pan and quickly sauté the meat for a minute or two until cooked, then set the meat aside. Then add a little more oil and add the peppers and onions, sauté for two minutes, then put the meat back in and stir for a minute. Top with provolone and let melt (putting aluminum foil on it will help). Toast the rolls, brushing them with oil and placing them over direct heat. When the cheese is melted, transfer it to the rolls, cut it in half and swallow it. You can also drizzle with a little barbecue sauce. For more information, visit Erniesbbq.com.

Dino S. Williams