Cold temperatures and some much-needed spare time over the holidays provided the perfect opportunity to fire up the smokehouse and do some cold-smoking. We decided to do some pork chops and turned to our favorite smoking resource for a brine recipe: Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.
Roughly following the recipe for the Garlic-Sage-Brined Pork Chops, we mixed up the following brine:
- 2 quarts water
- 1/2 c. kosher salt
- 3/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
- 4 T. fresh sage leaves (we used ground sage and only about 3 T.)
- 2 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
- 1 T. fresh ground black pepper
After mixing up the brine to dissolve all the ingredients, we placed 6 thick bone-in pork chops in a gallon Ziploc bag and put them in a cooler in the garage to soak overnight.
In the morning, we put the brined pork chops on the steel rack in the smokehouse and let them sit for a few hours to dry.
Jesse eventually fired up the firebox and smoked the chops for about 5 hours with apple wood. The smell was mouth-watering.
The chops were grilled on New Year’s Eve in 15 deg F weather. As usual with a finely cold-smoked meat product, the meat was pink all the way through the chop from the smoking, the brining kept the chops moist and flavorful, and a side dish of sauerkraut or applesauce were great complements. A cold Blue Moon beer was the finishing touch to a great meal. If only Jesse’s little brother would have sent us a nice hand-crafted box of chocolate truffles (www.intriguechocolates.com) for Christmas, the meal would have been perfect!
Happy New Year!