The pork loin came bone-in from Mr Barry Cook’s Meats and Grocery and man was it tender, moist, and an excellent piece of meat. I love, love, love shopping down at his place on Hwy 16 in Griffin. He’s a really nice man and carries superb product.
I digress. The simplicity of this method really astounded me. We’ve made it a little simpler with a digital thermometer that has two probes and a remote device you can clip to your belt or set on a table in the kitchen. It’s a heck of a lot more accurate than the temperature gauge on the door of the smoker, and keeps track of the ambient temperature inside the smoker, as well as the internal temp of the meat.
The most important parts of smoking that we’ve found so far have been the temperature you smoke at, the internal temperature of the meat, and the type of wood chips/hunks you use. Overnight, we soaked a mixture of cherry and apple wood for this project; in a two quart bowl three quarters full.
We liberally seasoned the outside of the meat with a mixture of Barry Cook’s secret seasoning blend, and some brown sugar. This too was done well in advance, and sat in the fridge, covered all night. When I say “liberally” I mean coated so that you can no longer see the meat. The piece we purchased was between 4-5 pounds. As my Grandma would say, “That’s a lot of meat to season, be generous!”.
The wood chips are placed in a special pan that we line with aluminum foil for easy clean-up. Approximate cook times will vary, according to the size of the loin, the amount of wood chips you use, and temperature of the smoker. We found that keeping the smoker at between 195-212 degrees Fahrenheit was optimal for this cut.
We smoked the pork loin for approximately six hours. At the four and a half hour mark, we removed the loin, and wrapped it in aluminum foil to aid in moisture retention. At the six hour mark, we took it out. Now, you must realize it wasn’t the time that mattered, but the internal temperature. Factoring in “carry over cooking” is essential. Please allow 1-2 degrees per pound of meat.
Our loin was between four and five lbs, so that meant it could rise up to an additional 10 degrees. Which brings up a good point, “What internal temperature does my meat really need to be?” What I was taught in the last 10 years is this; the standards of American meats have greatly improved in the last two decades. Pork producers are required by the FDA to cook the scraps given to pigs to avoid trichinosis, or intestinal parasites. So the previous standard of cooking meat to death is a total fallacy and a damn shame. Pork only needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 155 degrees Fahrenheit. It leaves the meat a little pink, very moist, and extremely flavorful. If you’re still not a pink meat fan, fine. Cook your meats any way that suits your tastes and your family’s. At my house 155 is the magic number for pork, and with carry over cooking I removed the loin at 148F. It rose an additional eight degrees and was perfect.
I let the meat rest for approximately 30 minutes as the rice finished. It’s always a good idea to let your meat rest for at least 10 minutes after it’s done. This allows the juices to re-distribute within the meat, and not just run out on the cutting board, wasted. I removed the bone, carefully with a very sharp knife, and sliced what I needed for the moment. Wrapped the rest and used it in skillet potatoes, hot and cold sandwiches, and fried rice throughout the week.