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Tatoosh 07-07-2012 06:34 AM

Pork Chops - Smoke
My first try at doing pork chops on my Weber Kettle Grill with Smokenator.

In the Philippines, pork chops come with a lot of extra fat, just how they sell it here. I trim it off and render it for lard. You can see two of the slices of fat, one on the plate with the chops and and the other on the cutting board. The chops went into a wet brine of 5 cups of water to 1/2 cup of Morton Tender Quick. I also added rosemary and peppercorns. They spend 24 hours refrigerated in brine before being rinsed off and introduced to my good buddy, Weber.

My table setup for smoking. A couple of probe thermometers, tongs, and a packet of hickory shreds for smoking. I break the packet into three parts, the original package and the other two in foil. I smoke each one and get maybe 25 minutes of smoke. Then I dump the remains directly on the hot coals for another 5 to 10 minutes of smoke. The only thing that was camera shy is my yellow Thermapen which I used to make sure all the chops were done.

Here the chops are on the Weber. The probe to monitor the temperature at the food grate and the Smokenator with a foil pouch on top of the charcoal.

Below are the pork chops about 10 to 15 minutes from finishing. I run the first 2 hours at a lower temperature, maybe 175F so they will take smoke without cooking. I kick the heat up to the 240F - 250F to finish them. The theory is that they won't dry out. I brine them with tenderquick, rosemary, and peppercorns for 24 hours before smoking.

The foil packets are spent now and gone. A couple of hot dogs managed to find there way over the hottest area of the Smokenator for a snack at in-law's request. I will post a photo of the finished chops if they survive my family who are circling them like pork loving vultures.

I did a quick taste test on one. They are not as moist as I wanted, a bit hammy but not too dry either, so still pretty flavorful. The flavor of the two hours of smoking is quite evident and I loved it. I still want to sort this out for a moister chop but we have to get the meat to at least 150F for safety sake here.

Any pointers on turning out moister pork chops will be appreciated. Flavor wise, they are fine. I'm not unhappy to serve them to guests, but I'd like to improve them if I can.

dfaarc 07-07-2012 07:05 AM

I can't judge the moisture from here, but they sure look yummy.

IamMadMan 07-07-2012 07:54 AM

They look great...

The loin is a denser muscle without a lot of marbling. I would suggest a hotter temperature so they cook faster and do not dry out.

Another option you could try would be brining them.

Tatoosh 07-07-2012 08:19 AM

Well, dang it! I forgot to mention that completely, didn't I? I did brine them. Roughly half cup of Morton Tender Quick to 5 cups of water, some rosemary, and peppercorns. The were refrigerated in the brine for 24 hours. I will edit my initial post to show that so everyone sees it without reading the whole thread. Thanks IamMadMan, I can't believe I vapor locked on that one.

Also as I am reading other similar threads here, I see that the hammy aspect is normal. So I think these came out pretty much where they should be. I like my chops pretty moist so I may play with this down the road, particularly if I get a cold smoke setup. But I am happy to serve these tomorrow to friends.

Ron_L 07-07-2012 08:45 AM

Using Tenderquick really isn't a brine, thats a cure, and that's why you got the hammy taste.

The accepted rule of thumb has been a 1-1-1 recipe for a brine. 1 cup of kosher salt (Morton for reference), 1 cup of sugar and 1 gallon of water.

A good reference is the great Brining 101 that Smokin' Okie published a while back...

There is also a good discussion on brining here...

Also, I prefer chops grilled, not smoked. You can get a smoke flavor using a foil packet of chips it you want, and you can also do a reverse sear on the chops by cooking indirect until they are 125-ish internal and then finish direct until they hit you desired internal temp.

Tatoosh 07-07-2012 09:18 AM

I agree, Ron L, it really is a cure, though I have read of cure being called a "sweet pickle brine" when wet and including sugar, which it is my impression that Tender Quick does. Since I wasn't after full on ham or bacon, plus since the chops were already cut, I thought the shorter brine time okay. And as a newbie I was following a posted recipe from another forum. I can't post in that forum because my internet provider doesn't provide email services and you have to have a "not for free" email to join. So I took their recipe, tried it, and posted the results here. I did back the Tender Quick off a bit simply because I have so little of it and cannot buy more here in the Philippines.

I have always grilled pork chops until recently when I started doing them sous vide as well. Great moist chops via sous vide and reverse sear. I am enjoying the flavor of these chops quite a bit. And I will study more about the cured and smoked pork chop versus a smoked pork chop so I can produce both.

I really appreciate the links and I am reading the brine guide right now. Just the sort of info I love pouring over! Thanks!

Wampus 07-07-2012 10:25 AM

I agree with Ronelle on this. Tenderquick for such a long time is really wet curing, not brining. This is what gave such a salty/hammy taste.

I've had good luck with a smoke/reverse sear, but only on really thick chops (2"). Otherwise, grill them.

Generally, really lean meats (like poultry, chops, pork loin (which is what chops are cut from), tenderloin, etc. don't need the low & slow of a long smoke. That's more needed on meats with a lot of connective tissue or that are tough (butts, brisket, ribs, etc.).

Also, watch internal temp on chops. I used to always have dried out chops because I was paranoid about them being undercooked when I grilled. Always came out dry and tough. When I started pulling them off the heat when they hit 140 IT and let them rest like a steak, they came out MUCH more tender and juicy.

Here's another great resource I've found for brining in general:

Tatoosh 07-07-2012 10:35 AM

Wampus, thanks. I agree with you about it being hammy. They are not too salty but turned out good in an unexpected way for me. I've found a few threads here and at other bbq forums that talk about a cured/brine smoked chop that is hammy. That is not the outcome most of us look for.

I won't ditch this approach, particularly for chops that may be out for a longer time without the benefit of cooling. Or when I want something a bit hammy without the time put into curing a ham.

I have a dozen of these finished chops set aside for dinner party tomorrow. I will reheat them sous vide (vacuum packed in a water bath) and I plan to give them a slight brush with maple syrup which I hope will give it another interesting and traditional flavor.

I can see that I will need two approaches: 1) traditional brine (no cure) and grill at higher temps and 2) a cure and lower temperature for smoking and then a hotter temp to finish. But the latter is a delicate balance so the chops don't become too dry to be good.

humblegriller 07-07-2012 05:31 PM

Juiciest pork chop I ever had was brined, stuffed, then grilled. Alton Brown recipe is a good one.

Butt Rubb'n BBQ 07-07-2012 05:45 PM

Nice dogs!

Tatoosh 07-07-2012 09:08 PM

Humblegriller, is this Alton Brown recipe?:

Butt rubb'n BBQ, Thanks those are relatively new product in this area. First local hotdogs here that didn't shrivel when you cook them. These actually plump up under heat. Still, a far cry from the hot dogs found in the States.

jsperk 07-07-2012 09:20 PM

Looks good. How you liking your smokenator.

yakdung 07-07-2012 09:44 PM

I would consider marinating them then placing them into a vacuum sealer if you have access to one. Negative pressure would open up the pores to allow flavor in. Another tack would possibly be injecting them.
Good luck,

Tatoosh 07-07-2012 10:11 PM

jsperk, I am really enjoying it. It is handy, I have to work to get higher temps out of it, but overall I am very pleased with it. I've done ribs, chops, and bacon on it. We have another 6 pork chops going on it now just to be sure we don't run out this evening.

yakdung, I don't have a vacuum sealer yet. We use a beach ball pump reversed to do that job when we packaged for sous vide. I have the chops we cooked last night setup for that. We will pop them in to a 135F - 140F water bath an hour or so before time to eat. They will come up to temperature without over cooking.

I like the idea of injecting and will try that down the road. I have a small "chicken" injector that works fine on bacon, so it should be perfect for chops.

We are going to try smoking the mashed potatoes too. I've read about that but never done it. So we will only do half of them so if it fails, we aren't completely out of taters.

Thanks to everyone for the input and ideas. This is a lot of fun and I'm really looking forward to trying some different approaches out in the future.

humblegriller 07-07-2012 10:13 PM


Originally Posted by Tatoosh (Post 2126260)
Humblegriller, is this Alton Brown recipe?:

Yep. That's it. :grin:

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