Smoked Pork Chops

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Smoked Pork Chops on a Plate

The same ones from Minecraft, apparently

  • Servings: 4 (2 chops per person)
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For when you want something that’s actually relatively healthy.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of boneless pork loin chops
  • 2 tablespoons lemon pepper (or rub/marinade of personal preference)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 four-ounce woodchunk (or woodchips)
  • 1 chimney of charcoal
  • Probably some extra lemon

Directions

  1. Evenly season pork chops with rub.
  2. Set up indirect heat and pre-heat grill to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit on the cool side. Add wood chunk or chips.
  3. Add pork chops on indirect side and cook until 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Sear chops on both sides to your heart’s content.
  5. Remove pork chops at or before 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Rest for 2-3 minutes and serve.

Pork isn’t exactly one of the first things that come to mind when “health” is on the menu, but loin chops are lean enough where they aren’t actively trying to kill you. Unlike, say,  a well-marbled ribeye.

Just Some Raw Pork Chops
Note the distinct lack of deadly weapons.

Center cut pork loin chops, pictured above, are pretty much as lean as you can go on the scale of various meats; I’d probably rate it pretty close to chicken breast. They’re not the most flavorful among the various cuts of pork chops, but their leanness and the lack of extra oil from grilling means you’re probably gaining back health/hunger points pretty generously.

Minecraft Pork Chops
Minecraft got it pretty close.

The problem with such chops is that they can very easily get dried out while cooking, leaving you with what amounts to warm jerky. The key is to cook to a nice, juicy medium-rare.

I had a slight moment of identity crisis while figuring out how to season these pork chops. What does it say about my cooking ability if it largely just involves drowning everything in lemon pepper? Ultimately, I decided to “just be myself.” Maybe bad dating advice can be good cooking advice.

Pork Chops Rubbed with Lemon Pepper
WHO AM I?” — Jackie Chan as WhoAmI, Who Am I? (1998)

If you aren’t wanting to use lemon pepper, try making a dry rub out of brown sugar and rosemary — the sweetness tends to go well with pork. A soy marinade overnight works as well. Another option is glazing with barbecue sauce before the sear.

Normally, I would recommend thicker chops of at least 1 to 1.5 inches since they’re easier to manage, but these appear to be the most common size of pork chops at the local grocery store. The cooking method remains largely the same, however (and is similar to how I make chicken wings).

Smoked Pork Chops on the Grill
Not a Minecraft furnace.

One thing I’ve noticed with this particular setup is that much of the heat comes from above the meat — the heat from the coals rises and then travels over toward the side where the vents are. Make sure to flip your meat a couple of times to get it to cook more evenly. Use a couple of your favorite woodchips or a woodchunk for smoke (I used oak again).

The target temperature for these chops is around 120 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. After that, throw them onto the hot side and sear them until you get your favorite level of crust. If you like it extra browned, just begin searing at a lower starting temperature. Aim for a final temperature of 140-145 degrees. These chops are relatively thin, so don’t expect too much carryover cooking; let rest for a few minutes to allow the juices settle in.

pork-chops-grilled-smoked-8
Ended up eating these for like a week. 

Pork chops pair well with pretty much everything, including rice, noodles and salad. Add lemon for more of a kick (I actually prefer lemon with pork over beef.)

Smoked Pork Chops on a Plate
Such health.

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