The best Father’s Day of my life happened in 2009. No, it wasn’t the birth-date of one of my kids ... it’s the day when my wife came home bearing a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, that she had found on the curb (which I still find hard to believe). From the moment this gleaming black steel contraption came into my life it changed the way I look at food, particularly meat. Ever since I’ve puzzled over different cuts of meat and how I could smoke them into culinary perfection.
It took me the better part of that summer to master the finer points of smoking (from temperature control to choosing the right wood), but eventually I began to work on instinct. The recipes followed: first up was smoked salmon, but I quickly graduated to Texas-style beef short ribs so huge that one could feed an average adult.
Now into my fourth "Summer of Smoke," I’ve tackled about two dozen recipes, many of them great – some total disasters. I’m happy to be able to share some of the better ones here. The highlight of 2012 so far is smoked pork loin. It’s a bit involved but I’ve tried it a few times (once substituting pork chops) and the result was the same: tender, salty, sweet pork.
First you have to brine the pork overnight in a mixture of water and equal parts brown sugar and salt, plus some seasoning (I used 1 onion quartered, chopped celery, 3 bay leaves, black peppercorns)
The next morning, dump the brine and rub the pork with a mixture of black pepper, white pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and chili powder (two tbsps each).
Smoke these puppies for about 2.5 hours (at about 200 F) with some apple and cherry wood. When this is almost done baste those loins with this sauce:
- ½ cup fruit jelly (white grape or peach)
- ½ cup BBQ sauce
- 2 tbsps of cider vinegar
- juice from 1/2 a lemon
I ate this with a salad, but it’s even better the next day in a sandwich -- like this upscale twist on a Cubano.
Uptown Cubano Sandwich
- One crusty soft white(ish) bun
- Three slices of smoked pork tenderloin (recipe here)
- Two slices of crispy pancetta
- Sliced radicchio
- One ripe avocado
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1- 2 Garlic cloves (to taste)
- Make garlic mayo: chop garlic very fine and mix with about 1/4 cup mayonnaise. Let site for 15 min.
- Grill pancetta on a grill pan or BBQ; set aside.
- Slice Radicchio (including core) into 1/2 inch slices. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
- Grill on a grill pan or BBQ until soft and showing grill marks.
- Slice avocado.
- Slice the buns, spread on garlic mayo to taste, add pork, pancetta, radicchio and avocado.
- Serve with a pickle on the side, and a lightly dressed green salad.
Brad Mackay is an Ottawa writer who is in the fourth year of a May-September relationship with his charcoal smoker. You can read all about it at his blog Smoke Rings.
by Brad Mackay