“I love grilling fruit,” says Josh Applestone. “I really love grilling pineapple. I grill everything.” Since peaches are in season and grow abundantly near us in the Hudson Valley, that’s what’s on the menu now. You can serve them with just about any grilled meat, but they pair especially well with pork. Try them with your favorite cut. Applestone is currently making chili lime grilled peaches and serving them with pork belly.
GRILLED PORK BELLY
The trick to grilling pork belly is indirect heat. “You basically need 45 minutes each side on indirect heat,” says Applestone. We cut our pork belly in strips that don’t take as long to cook as a full belly, which would be a custom order. If you’re grilling a bigger piece of belly, you’re going to need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
To puff up the skin, you don’t have to sear it first over flames, and then move it to indirect heat. Instead, try basting the skin with a 2:1 ratio saline solution (“not too heavy on the salt,” cautions Applestone). It will dry the skin out, soften it up, and make it more edible. Begin by grilling the belly over indirect heat skin side up, meat side down. Brush the brine on the skin every 10 to 15 minutes or so.
“Then, when you flip the belly and the skin hits the heat, the muscle and fat render south towards the flame. The fat trickles from top to bottom, going past the skin on the way down, and it puffs up. You see an effect like chicharrones,” explains Applestone. “It tastes really good.”
Applestone uses a Weber cotton soft grill brush to baste on the saline solution. “There are so many kinds of grill brushes but I like cotton over silicone, which is very popular. Cotton absorbs well. Weber has ones with replaceable heads sold at pretty much any hardware store in America. It’s a natural fiber and washes well. Once it gets really nasty, throw it out and get another one.”
For more details on using a saline solution with pork belly and more, check out Sam Jones’ book, Whole Hog BBQ.
“Any type of flavoring you like will do. I like chili and lime lately. It’s simple and you don’t lose the flavor of what you’re dealing with. Fresh lime with belly? Yeah,” says Applestone. Halve a few peaches that are on the firm side, remove and discard the pits, and drizzle them with seasoning of your choice. (You could also easily use olive oil, honey, salt, pepper, and fresh herbs like thyme.) Place the peaches cut side up on the grill over indirect heat. As the peaches heat up, their juices pool where the pits were, so be careful when removing them. They’re done when they have softened. Some people like them firmer than others, in which case just cook to caramelize and remove. The heat really intensifies the peach flavor.