Smoked pork chop question

Discussion in 'Pork' started by cueinco, Apr 16, 2015.

  1. cueinco

    cueinco Smoke Blower

    My son asked me to smoke some pork chops for he and his girl friend. My goal is to make them, or make them better,  than you can buy them at a good German butcher shop. The way I've usually fixed them when I bought them was over a bed of sauerkraut and a little white wine in covered Dutch oven. Just heat everything in a moist environment so the chops don't dry out. I'd suggest that he take the chops to at least 145 I.T. before serving. 

    I've read through a bunch of posts about smoked pork chops but almost all of them are going from smoker to table. This would be smoker to fridge for a day or two and then oven to table. A couple of questions came to mind and I was hoping folks here might have some answers. 

    Do the butcher shops fully cook the chops, or are they cold smoked? If I was to hot smoke them, I'd probably pull them at 135 or so to make sure that they didn't get too dry. Or course, taking them to 145 would mean that he didn't necessary have to cook them, just heat them up. If I cold smoked them, I'd leave them in smoke for 2-3 hours on a cold day using my AMZTS and no heat in the MES-30. Wouldn't let the meat get past 60 degrees and then right back into the fridge. Any ideas as to what is best practice? 

    I was planning on brining them and using a small amount of cure #1. I mixed up the below to make Lox last week and only used about half  of it since I made double the recipe. (BTW, the lox recipe came out great. )

    1 cup - white sugar
    1/2 cup - brown sugar
    1 cup - Kosher salt
    2 teaspoons - Cure #1
    2 tablespoons - Montreal Steak Seasoning

    I was going to dissolve 2 cups of the above in 1/2 gallon of water and brine the chops. My goal was to get moisture into the chops but not to get a real "hammy" flavor. Would this small amount of cure#1 have the desired effect of adding moisture and tenderness while not contributing too much flavor? I'm not adding the cure from a food safety point of view but more to get the moisture and tenderness. 

    If you don't want the ham flavor that cure can give, how about just using a normal brine without the cure? Any ideas on how the butcher shops turn out such great smoked pork chops?

    Thanks in advance for your thoughts. 
  2. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Well if you are going to hit smoke you could make a brine with no cure. If you are going to smoke and the put temp is above 40f you will want cure, and you need to cure the chops properly. I would suggest you read up on Pop's Brine and follow his instructions. Granted this would give you the hammy flavor you do not want. Another option would be to cold smoke and keep the smoker temp at 40f or less. I do this during the winter all of the time for steaks and pork chops. Then I pack and freeze them for use later.

    If you decide to hot smoke them then you need to take them to a minimum IT of 145f. Then you would need to reheat them.

    Using a thicker cut of pork ( we cut our chops 1 1/4"-1 1/2" thick) will help keep the chops moist even without brine. Also for hot smoking using a lower temp pit will help. I like to run my pit around 180 for pork. Sometimes I will take the chops to 135, then sear each side over hot coals until I reach 145.

    I don't brine my chops unless I am wanting the hammy flavor. Otherwise it's straight from the fridge to the smoker.
  3. cueinco

    cueinco Smoke Blower

    Thanks for the thoughts.

    I have used Pop's brine to make corned beef and pastrami. As I say, I'm interested in the effect that a small amount of cure#1, as opposed to the half a tablespoon you'd use for a 1/2 gallon of Pop's, would have on tenderness and moisture. It's pretty much a teaspoon vs. a tablespoon difference.  Would that much lower level of cure#1 be significant in terms of tenderness and moisture? 

    I'm leaning toward brining with the low level of cure and then hot-smoking them at about 200 degrees until they reach 145 I.T. I'll see if the low level of cure has any effect on the tenderness and moisture. 

    Thanks again for taking the time to respond.
  4. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  5. cueinco

    cueinco Smoke Blower

    I'm not sure what pics I'd upload. I haven't even purchased the chops yet. [​IMG]

    I'm just trying to get things straight before I get started. I'll post the results when I get 'em done. 

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