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.
Serve with a homemade southern potato salad. Throw in some more sliced pickles and homemade pickled red onions and you will have an amazing dinner.
- 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.
It’s ok to rest in fridge 2 weeks with no curing salt no 1?
Victor @ Taste of Artisan
Yes, it's OK in this specific recipe. Think of it as plain salt curing and air drying combined. In a way, it's like dry aging beef, only with salt and seasonings. The salt draws out water, and the dry air in the fridge dries out the surface. This provides an inhospitable environment for bacteria growth. Smell the meat after two weeks, it will smell very good. If you put no salt on the meat and refrigerate it in a Ziploc bag, it will smell funky after two weeks because spoilage bacteria will grow on the surface.
After 2 weeks of waiting, I was finally able to smoke my pork. It was so worth the wait!!!! There was not a bite that was not bursting with flavor. I chose to pan fry my chop, as directed, and it was unbelievable! Others in my family ate theirs right out of the smoker (after the necessary wait time) and they seemed as equally impressed! Thank you, Victor!
Cured pork loin, ready to smoke:
Smoked pork loin:
Victor @ Taste of Artisan
You are very welcome, Erin. Glad to hear that you all liked this recipe. It's a little bit of work and waiting time but, like you said, it's worth the wait. One of my favorite smoked goodies.
I began this process almost 2 weeks ago. I will be smoking my rack tomorrow. My husband thinks I’m crazy for having meat open in the fridge, especially for such a long time. Are their any way to determine if my meat cured properly or just hope for the best? I will post my results.
Victor @ Taste of Artisan
Hi Erin, welcome and good luck smoking your pork loin tomorrow. I'd love to see some pics, will email you about that.
I've also had some of my family members being skeptical about some of my recipes but over time they've learned to trust me;) My daughter at some point refused to eat my salami when she learned that saw how I made it - it's basically raw pork stuffed in a raw pig gut and left in the fridge for a couple of months. She was terrified. I pointed out that salami from the store is made exactly the same way and I explained to her all the safety precautions that go into making salami the right way and why raw meat over time becomes perfectly safe to eat if you follow the process. What do you know, she listened and ate it without any problem.
Salt-cured pork in this recipe is perfectly fine after two weeks. Salt, cold and dry air of the fridge will protect the meat from spoilage bacteria growing and spoiling the meat. Smell it, it should an aroma of pork and spices. That's how you know that meat is good. If it doesn't smell good, it's has spoiled. But that shouldn't happen.
As far as proper curing, yes, two weeks is enough, no need to worry about it. I'd say even one week would be mostly enough for the salt to penetrate all the way but two weeks will definitely be enough.