In this newsletter we are focusing on apple smoked pork chops.. boneless, butterflied, smoked with apple and a touch of hickory, flavored with my very own rub and served with some delicious sides made by my wife. We are in for a treat and that's quite an understatement! I am getting ready to spill the beans on every step that I took to get these babies from store-bought chops to the dinner table complete with lots of pictures.
You could essentially buy almost any kind of pork chops even the ones with the bones still intact but I decided that the boneless ones would work better this time. I also opted to get some that were already butterflied. I like to use the butterflied chops for stuffed pork chops but I digress.. that is something for a another newsletter and another day.
Try to find chops that have plenty of marbling within the meat.. this is what will keep the chops from drying out while they are cooking/smoking.
Brine the Pork Chops: Optional
You can brine the pork chops if you like. I usually don't but if you wish to do so, just use the following recipe and brine the chops for about 4 hours. I don't think I would go too much longer than that.
1 gallon of water
1 cup of kosher salt
3/4 cup of brown sugar
Add the salt and sugar to cold water and stir until the salt and sugar is dissolved. Pour the brine mixture into a container, add the meat then cover and place in the fridge.
Be sure to rinse the meat well using cold water once it is finished brining.
Adding some Amazing Flavor to the Pork Chops
I needed a batch of my rub mixed up and almost at that precise, exact moment my 8-year old son walked in and exclaimed that he was bored. The wheels started turning in my head and before you knew it, I magically made his boredom disappear;-) He is always happy to help.
I laid the pork chops out on a serving platter to be coated with my rub. I sometimes use yellow mustard, oil or some other substance to help the rub to stick, but I had plenty of time so I decided to just sprinkle it on and once it started getting that typical “wet” appearance, I would turn them over and do the other side.
Here are the chops all nice and coated with my very own rib rub. That stuff is so tasty, I have to be careful that I don't lick my fingers!
Getting the Smoker Ready
While those pretty little chops sit on the cabinet and absorb the flavors of the rub, I need to go out and get the smoker ready. This is my “really old” Great Outdoors Smoky Mountain smoker still in great shape. It's not as shiny as it used to be and the door thermometer no longer works, but it sure does a great job of smoking meat.
I mixed apple chips and hickory chips together in equal amounts and filled the smoke box up almost to the top. I like the apple with pork but sometimes it's just a bit too mild flavored for me. Adding the hickory to the mix will make the smoke flavor a little more robust.
The water pan in this gas smoker does a great job of keeping the heat regulated a little better. You can also use other liquids such as apple juice, beer, etc. or you can add aromatic vegetables/herbs to the water such as onions, garlic, rosemary, thyme, etc.. I don't know if it truly adds more flavor to the meat you are cooking but it sure smells good!
I like to cover the inside of the water pan with foil. This makes cleanup a breeze.
The water pan is filled with hot water then placed into the smoker.
The smoke box now filled with dry apple/hickory wood chips is placed into the smoker just over the flame.
To get the smoke flowing properly in this type of smoker, I recommend turning the heat to high once the smoke box is inserted then leave the door cracked open just a little to dispel some of the heat. The high heat will get the chips to smoldering and once you start seeing/smelling light smoke come out of the top vent, you can close the door and place the heat setting back on medium or wherever you keep it to maintain about 225 degrees.
Smoking the Pork Chops
While you are waiting on the smoke to start in the picture above is a great time to go get the pork chops and/or other meat and place it on the grate. Make sure to leave plenty of room between the pieces.
I use 5-inch apple discs that I cut up to set my thermometers on.. this keeps them from getting too hot and destroying the electronic circuits on the inside.
It's hard to see, but the thermometer reads 215 degrees. this is the temperature that I tried to maintain throughout the cooking session. It did get up to around 225 here and there but for the most part it remained steady and the rub did not burn.
The pork chops cooked for 3 hours and when they got to 160 degrees F, I immediately took them out of the smoker and brought them in the house for serving.
Serving the Pork Chops
My wife made baby potatoes with parsley and buttered brussels sprouts to go with the chops.. her original recipes are below.
Now to taste these babies.. I knew they would be good but when I took that initial bite the first words out of my mouth were OMG!!
I have a feeling that you will agree. This is a really tasty dish with a sort of fanciness to it that you don't see with a lot of barbecue. Excellent for when special company is coming over or just about anytime. Better yet, it's no muss.. no fuss.. and super easy!
This recipe could easily be done with all wood, charcoal or even electric, the important thing is to keep the heat on the low side so that the rub does not burn. Anywhere between 215 and 225 is near perfect.
I kept the smoke going for about 2 hours, after that I just finished it off with the heat.
I recommend using apple wood with these pork chops. If you really like to taste the smoke then add a stronger tasting wood with it such as hickory like I did at a 50:50 ratio.
The Recipes for the Sides
My wife is such a great cook.. she almost always does the indoor cooking while I do what is required on the grill or smoker. I try to get her the best estimate I can on when the meat will be done and she does her best to make sure the sides get done at about the same time. These sides that she came up with were absolutely amazing and in my opinion, was a major part of what made this meal a great success. The recipes are yours to use as you wish.
Baby Potatoes with Parsley
1 lb. baby red or gold potatoes, washed and trimmed of eyes
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. salted butter
¼ c. Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, coarsely chopped
kosher or sea salt
coarse black pepper
Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes or until just tender but not mushy. Remove from heat and drain. Blot potatoes dry with a paper towel or lint free hand towel. Quarter the potatoes and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, butter and parsley. Add the potatoes and toss gently to coat. Season to taste with sea salt and coarse pepper.
1 lb. brussels sprouts, cleaned and trimmed
coarse black pepper
Steam brussels sprouts in a steamer basket for 7-8 minutes or until just tender. Remove from heat and slice while hot. Toss sliced Brussels sprouts with butter and season with salt and pepper. (If you don't have a steamer basket, boil the sprouts in salted water for 5 minutes and then drain.)
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Smoke, Wood, Fire: The Advanced Guide to Smoking Meat – Unlike the first book, this book does not focus on recipes but rather uses every square inch of every page teaching you how to smoke meat. What my first book touched on, this second book takes it into much greater detail with lots of pictures.
It also includes a complete, step-by-step tutorial for making your own smoked “streaky” bacon using a 100 year old brine recipe.