On Monday I shared with you my desire to dethrone my uncle as the head of the family smokehouse, and gave you a sneak peak into my plan. With the help of a gorgeous rack of pork from Costco and a little advice from my friends, I think I might have a chance.
I also promised an opportunity to win some Costco cash, and we’ll get to that in a bit. But first, let’s talk turkey about pork.
For everyday dinners, a pork tenderloin is a great idea. When you’re looking for an impressive presentation though, a rack of pork is hard to beat. Even better, if you can find one large enough to “crown,” you’ve got even more options.
The rack I purchased was right at five pounds and a little too short to crown, so I decided to focus on a sweet flavor and smoke it instead of roast it.
First, we brined it.
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp black peppercorns
Warm over medium heat until salt and sugar are dissolved. Cool. Soak pork for 12-24 hours. Rinse, pat dry.
Then we gave it a rub.
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
Combine ingredients, making sure there are no clumps. Press into meat, completely covering it.
Then we smoked it!
We used an upright Brinkman smoker. After creating a hot ring of coals at the bottom, we placed well-soaked chips of applewood inside the ring. We smoked the rack at 250 for five hours, occasionally basting with a mixture of apple juice and melted butter, then finished it in the oven at 265 for one hour. Be sure to let your meat rest for 15-20 minutes.
We ended up with a seriously juicy cut of meat that was quite tender. Served with mashed potatoes, asparagus and a spinach salad, it was a beautiful meal that would have been perfect for a holiday dinner party.
It was suggested by a semi-professional carnivore (our friend Todd, who is well-versed in the art of smoked meats) that some extra time and heavier smoke would be appreciated. If you’re a smoke newbie, you’ll probably be ok with an hour per pound. If you’re a little more experienced, you’ll most likely appreciate a little darker end result. Increase your time to 90 minutes per pound to start, and play it by ear.
Remember, the USDA reduced the temperature guideline for pork loins, chops and roasts from 160 to 145 degrees F, with a three-minute rest. This will yield a juicy, flavorful product that may be pinker in color than most of us home cooks are used to. Ground pork, like all ground meat, should still be cooked to 160 degrees.
As far as party ideas for the season – since I went with a sweet, apple-based flavor for this rack, I would choose an apple stuffing and a harvest décor, and maybe even tuck nametags into cinnamon sticks for place holders.
For a warmer season, I might go with a spicy mustard rub and serve potato salad and beans on a checkered tablecloth.
Pork is a great template for all kinds of flavor themes, and I encourage you to be adventurous once in awhile and see where your imagination takes you. It’s always a fun surprise when something new turns out to be a family favorite.
To bolster your confidence in the kitchen (or on the patio) a bit, I’d like to offer you a chance to win $25 in Costco cash in the form of a Costco gift card. To enter, please leave a comment telling me something new you’d like to try in the kitchen for the holidays.
Please be sure your email address is entered in the correct box before you comment.
Entries will be accepted until Thursday, November third at noon CST. The randomly chosen winner will be contacted by email.
UPDATE: The winner of the $25 Costco cash card is…
Thank you all for your participation!
I was selected by The National Pork Board and Costco to participate in this sponsored recipe program through The Motherhood. While I have been compensated for my time and expenses, all opinions are my own. As if you doubted that.