Saturday, June 06, 2009
Pork Loin on Weber Kettle Grill
Last night I decided to smoke a pork loin on our Weber Kettle. The kettle design and air vents work well for low and slow as well as traditional high heat grilling. We have some smokers too, but I know pork loin doesn't take a long times especially since I cut it in half and saved the other half for later.
First I rubbed the pork loin down with some Traeger dry rub for pork. They have some really great rubs. I have the variety sample pack, and when it arrived and I opened up the box, yum. These Traeger rubs are fresh and very wonderful smelling. They taste really super too. You can, of course, use any rub you like (Emeril is good from the grocery) or make your own. I just enjoy playing around with different brands and recipes on rubs and barbecue sauces.
Normally I grill by sight and touch, but it's kind of hard to tell on bigger cuts of meat. I finally did what I should have done long ago and got a grill thermometer. It's a Maverick Redi Chek Remote. It makes sense to use a thermometer, because you can't really tell about the center of a bigger piece of smoked meat.
My Maverick meat thermometer has two probes to check either two types of meat cooking (one in a steak and one in a piece of chicken etc), or (in my case) one on each end of the pork loin just out of curiosity. In additon to the two probes, the unit has a remote beeper. So, I just plugged in the Redi Check and went inside where it was cool and did other fun things like laundry.
There are auto setting for types of meat on the thermometer, but I used the manual setting and pressed in 140 degrees F. That's low for pork, but I wanted to be sure I didn't overcook the meat. I just wanted to check at 140F.
Around 40 minutes, the beeper went off. It is definately loud enough to hear. The two ends were about 8 degrees apart on temp. So, I respositioned the pork loin and brought it on up to 150 degrees F.
Really, you want it about 160 degrees F on pork to be on the safe side, but I knew I'd sauce it and put the lid on to smoke it down about 10 more minutes. Also, I'd rest the pork loin for a half hour. It continues to cook while wrapped in aluminum foil, so you go lower on the off-the-grill temp when letting the meat rest (which allows the flavors to meld).
Generally my pork loins run closer an hour to get up to temp, but since I had the thermometer probes in and the lid cracked a bit so as not to crimp them, the fire ran hotter than usual.
Note also in the top photo that the coals are offset. In other words, I had hot coals on one side and one side with no coals. The meat went over the side without coals - the cool side. The heat and smoke then circulate for slow cooking on bigger pieces of meat like the loin. You can do similar with a gas grill by having one side on and one side off and the meat on the side that's not lit. Then, grill low with the lid down.
Pork Loin off Grill and Ready to be Wrapped in Aluminum Foil to Rest
Once the pork loin was close, I lathered on some Jack Daniels Barbecue Sauce. This is a brand name from the grocery store. It's a thick tomato based sauce but darker than most with a little zip from the whiskey flavor.
Once the sauce was on the pork loin, I put the lid on the Weber and shut down the vents to cap the fire. There was plenty of heat to kind of bake on the sauce without burning it. If you put sauce on too early, then the outside of your meat burns. Sauce is always a last step. Mop or marinade (thinner products) can go on before, during, and after - but not barbecue sauce.
The guys loved the pork loin. They had some last week made by the Leonard brothers. My guys asked why I never made pork loin. Well, when they were little, I made one. My oldest thought it was a pig leg. Sigh. He doesn't get out to the farm often. Can you imagine the size of a pig with legs that big? Anyway, the boys were suspicious of that "leg," so I gave it a rest for a while. Glad they discovered that they do like pork loin. When it's not overcooked, it's like a good steak - very moist, juicy and full of flavor.