If you haven't tried smoked cured pork chops, do yourself a favor, smoke some as soon as possible. They are incredibly tender, juicy and have a rich smoky flavor. The meat is flavored inside out. There isn't a single bite where the meat would taste bland. The bark on these chops is incredibly tasty too: peppery, savory, with a hint of sweetness. The secret is to cure the meat before smoking.
Curing pork chops before smoking is good for two reasons. The reason number one is that curing flavors the meat inside out, leaving not a single part of the chop bland and tasteless. It concentrates the flavors and tenderizes the meat. The second reason is that the curing process facilitates the formation of a pellicle on the surface of the meat. A pellicle is a dry sticky layer that attracts smoke like a magnet. You get better color and better smoky flavor.
The pellicle also serves to seal off the surface of the meat, keeping the moisture inside, which results in much juicier meat. Like, really, really juicy meat.
To give your smoked pork chops even more flavor and more color, give them a quick sear on a cast iron pan. I use a couple of tablespoons of oil and a couple of tablespoons of butter heated over medium-high heat.
The oil raises the smoking point and the butter gives the chops a beautiful color.
Pan-searing is not mandatory but trust me, it will transform your smoked pork chops into pure deliciousness. It adds another layer of flavor that is hard not to appreciate.
Another reason to pan-sear the smoked chops is if you need to serve them at a later time. You can keep them wrapped in butcher paper in a faux cambro for a few hours but they will cool down. The searing will warm them up. They taste best when the internal temperature is at around 145F when serving.
- 6 lbs bone-in pork loin half rack of bone-in pork loin (4 bones)
- 3 Tbsp kosher salt
- 4 Tbsp black pepper coarsely ground
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp granulated garlic
- 1 Tbsp granulated onion
- Remove the membrane from the bones on the back of the loin rack. Mix the rub ingredients together and apply evenly all over the loin rack. Put the meat in a pan fitted with a rack.
- Transfer to a fridge and keep it there for two weeks, uncovered.
- Preheat the smoker to 250F-275F at the grate level. Add a water pan to keep the pork loin moist.
- Smoke with 'thin blue' oak smoke for about 4-5 hours.
- The meat is done when the internal temperature in the center of the loin rack reaches 145F.
- Remove the meat from the smoker and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving. If serving later, wrap in butchers paper and keep in a faux cambro until ready to serve.
- If desired, and I highly recommend it, slice the rack into individual chops and give each a quick sear on a cast iron pan. Just heat a couple of tablespoons each of vegetable oil and butter over medium-high heat, and sear for about 30 seconds or so per side.