Ever wonder what it would be like to throw a pork chop in the smoker? Grilled pork chops are great, of course, but cooking them with smoke gives the meat a unique flavor somewhere between a fresh pork chop and glazed ham. My husband, the meat aficionado, took to his cookbooks and figured out how to do it. He began with 1 1/2 inch-thick pork chops, a small amount of cure, and a brine, which is a solution of water, salt, and sugar that adds moisture and flavor to the meat. 4 to 10 days is the suggested range to brine the meat, and he chose to go the whole length in order to get maximum flavor. The photo to the right shows the fully brined chops, ready for the smoker.
After the brining process was complete, the meat was rinsed well and placed in the smoker. We use wood cut from our land to smoke our meats; varieties include cherry, hickory, apple, peach, and oak. He likes to choose lighter woods for lighter meats, and stronger-tasting woods for red meats. So cherry was the wood of choice for these chops, as it adds a nice flavor without overpowering the meat. They were in the smoke for 5 hours at approx. 250 F. Although the recipe did not specify this, he wrapped them in heavy duty foil when they reached the desired color. At 160 F, they were ready to eat.
You can see how the interior has a pink tint similar to a ham, due to the cure. The only seasoning we used was kosher salt and cracked pepper, but I suppose you could add some cloves and a glaze if you wanted it to taste more like a ham.
And that’s it! Smoked pork chops are a unique alternative to both grilled pork and smoked (or baked) ham. Any questions or comments, I’d love to hear them!