Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Smoked Pork Chops

Another winner from Cook's Country. This may be my favorite cooking magazine, followed closely by Cook's Illustrated. We've made these pork chops twice now and really like the smoke flavor. The only issue is that the rub becomes a dry crust that is not great. So this time we spritzed some water on the chops during the last few minutes when they go over direct heat. But we're thinking apple cider or apple juice would be better. We had thick cut chops the first time, but they were boneless. They cooked up nicely though. This batch was a more standard cut chop, boneless also. And since I didn't have ground fennel I left it out. Really didn't miss it at all. They were done in about 30 minutes. They were nice and juicy and had a great smoke flavor.

Smoked Double-Thick Pork Chops on a Gas Grill

Ground fennel can be found in the spice aisle of most supermarkets. We prefer blade chops, which have more fat to prevent drying out on the grill, but leaner loin chops will also work. These chops are huge and are best sliced off the bone before serving.

Serves 6 to 8

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground fennel seed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
4 bone-in blade-cut pork chops (20- to 24- ounces each), about 2 inches thick
2 cups wood chips, preferably hickory

1. Combine sugar, fennel, cumin, coriander, paprika, salt, and pepper and rub mixture all over pork chops. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

2. Soak wood chips in bowl of water to cover for 15 minutes, seal in foil packet (cutting vent holes in top), and place over primary burner. Turn all burners to high and close lid, keeping grill covered until wood chips begin to smoke heavily, about 15 minutes. Scrape cooking grate clean. Turn primary burner to medium and turn all other burners off, adjusting temperature of primary burner as needed to maintain average temperature of 275 degrees. Position chops over cooler part of grill, cover grill.

3. Arrange chops, bone side toward fire, on cooler side of grill. Cover, positioning lid vents directly over meat, and cook until chops register 145 degrees, 50 to 60 minutes (if your chops are less than 2 inches thick, start checking them for temperature after 30 minutes). Slide chops directly over fire and cook, uncovered, until well browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to platter and let rest 20 minutes. Serve.

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