Getting piggy with Chef Jason Azevedo: Pulled Pork

Chef Jason is the head chef at Hock Farm Craft & Provisions in Sacramento. The menu at Hock Farm is farm-to-fork centric, with chef sneaking pork, in one form or another, into many of the dishes like the house-made kielbasa in the beer-steamed mussels, or the pork cheek ragu in the pappardelle pasta.


Chef Jason recently took home first place at the 2016 Sacramento Baconfest where he served up unforgettable fried boloney sliders with a savory bacon jam.

Is your mouth watering yet? Just wait until you hear Jason's tips for making the perfect pulled pork!


If anyone can give advice on how to make a killer pork belly, it is Chef Jason Azevedo of Hock Farm Craft & Provisions. Azevedo has a passion for all things pig, from taking the time to order the best quality pigs from Rancho Llano Seco to skillfully, and gently, butchering the pigs in house and slow roasting them on the spit.

Time to learn how you can make a juicy, tender pork belly at home using techniques from an award-winning pork expert!


Chef Jason places a big emphasis on where his products are sourced from. He recommends visiting your local butcher for the best cuts rather than going to big name super stores and buying pre-packaged cuts.

For those of us who are lucky enough to live in Sacramento, chef highly recommends V Miller Meats or Taylor's Market.


Slow & Low!


-Start with a dry rub the night before you are going to actually cook the pork belly.

-Combine the following ingredients:

1 cup salt

2 cups chili powder

1/2 cup onion powder

1 tbsp celery seed

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 cup brown sugar

-Rub on all sides of the pork.

-Let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.


Chef recommends allowing the pork to temper for 30-60 minutes before starting to cook. You want the pork to reach close to room temperature.

If you are using a conventional oven, it should be set to 325 degrees. The pork should cook "slow & low" for about five hours. You are trying to reach an internal temperature of 185 degrees.

For those of you using a smoker, the pork should be cooked, wrapped, for four hours at 275 degrees. If you are crunched for cook time, you can raise the temperature to 300 degrees and cook it for two to three hours.


One of Chef Jason's secrets to maintaining juicy flavor is to "spritz" the pork every 30 to 45 minutes.

The spritz should be made with equal parts apple juice & orange juice with some dashes of cayenne pepper (depending on how much heat you like).

Chef explains that doing this helps the sugar create bark, which is the term used to refer to the crispy outer crust of pork belly.

Chef also says that you want the fat to render down.


Let's be honest, the hardest part about making this pork belly has been waiting for it to be ready while the house filled with all the mouth-watering aromas.

But, it will all have been worth it when you take that first juicy bite of moist, tender and perfectly spicy pork belly.

So, after you reach an internal temperature of 185 degrees, you will take the pork off the smoker, or out of the oven. Resist the temptation to start poking at it to get a taste!

Chef says the pork needs to rest for 20 to 30 minutes. First, so it can cool down enough that you can get your hands in it, but, also because this allows the fat (aka flavor and moisture) to stay in.

He says you can take out any huge chunks of fat that you see, but you actually want the fat to be incorporated.

With a fork and your hands, you can cut the belly up, or shred it. Either way, it should be tender enough to be pulled apart.

Taste it and re-season if needed.

At Hock Farm, Chef Jason serves his pork belly two ways. The first way is as a sandwich with a Creole slaw, pickled vegetables and Russian dressing.

The second way is on a slider bun with chile vinegar sauce and a crisp slaw. The recipe for the slaw is below.

1 head Napa cabbage (sliced julienne aka long, thin strips)

1 whole carrot (shredded)

1 bunch of scallions (diced)

1 tsp sugar

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tsp cayenne

2 tbsp salt

P.S. The slaw makes for a tasty snack all on its own!


Whether you are serving the pork alone, or stacking it into a sandwich, Chef Jason recommends "dressing" the pork belly one last time before serving it. Chef explains that doing this helps cut the fat and brings out the pork flavor.

He uses a mixture of 1/3 vinegar, 1/3 water, 1/3 chile powder.