Smoked Pork Chops

It’s sort of been a tradition for us to host a New Year’s Eve party and this year will be no exception. This year MU will also be playing Arkansas in the Independence Bowl on New Year’s Eve, so we’ll be having a bowl game/New Year’s Eve party. In honor of the trouncing the Razorbacks should receive we’ll be serving BBQ pork.

I decided that tonight would be a good night to do a test run of the smoking. We don’t have a smoker so I had to make due with a Weber kettle grill. Overall I think it worked out pretty well. Four nicely smoked pork chops took about 90 minutes at temperatures varying from 185 – 230° (the dips were mainly caused by my opening the grill for additional fuel/wood).

Here’s the setup: I started with 10 scorching hot pieces of charcoal (using the Alton Brown blow dryer method) and added 6 unlit pieces to a basket pushed against one side of the grill. The other side of the grill was occupied by a 9×13 baking dish full of water. All of the vents were wide open (I tried keeping the bottom one mostly closed, but the temperature wouldn’t stay above 190° unless it was open). I kept track of the temperature using a probe thermometer dangled through the upper vent of the grill. I added two pieces of charcoal each time the temperature dipped to 200° (I checked every 10-15 minutes).

The pork chops came out quite well, although they took longer than I had hoped to reach my standard 140° pork internal temperature (although the FDA would tell me this is not safe I’ve never gotten sick). I think the key is not losing heat from lid openings. Next time around I’ll just slide the lid over to expose the coal basket leaving the rest of the grill covered rather than opening it all the way. I used this method for the last coal addition and the temperature only dropped by 5° rather than the 15° for previous additions.

The next smoking challenge will be a large Boston butt, how big will depend on the number of RSVPs.