Succulent smoked pork chops are a big winner at any cookout. Compared to other cuts of pork, chops don't take a long time to smoke, especially if you choose the thinner ones. Pork chops can be lightly seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper before smoking and will taste great.
The leaner chops will have an improved taste and texture if they are brined before smoking. The brining process improves the texture and increases the moistness by modifying the protein structure of the meat.
A basic brine of three-quarters of a cup salt to one gallon of water is a good starting point for a pork chop brine. One gallon of brine is enough for three to four pounds of pork chops. Herbs, spices and fruit juice or alcoholic beverages can be added to the mix to up the flavor profile of the smoked pork chops. Here's one of my favorite pork chop brine recipes that I use with one inch thick loin chops.
Combine one-half gallon of water with one-half gallon of apple juice or cider. Add three-quarters of a cup of canning salt, one tablespoon of cracked black peppercorns, one teaspoon of crushed garlic, and one lime, sliced thinly. Soak the chops in the brine overnight (in the refrigerator) before smoking.
Pork chops can be successfully prepared in any type of smoker. A pit smoker, a gas smoker or a vertical water smoker will all do a great job. Pork chops don't require a high internal temperature when done. A temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit is considered safe by the USDA for medium-done fresh pork. An informative page the USDA provides as a public service is Pork, Farm to Table.
A smoker temperature of 200 to 225 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for cooking smoked pork chops. Depending on the thickness of the meat, the chops will take from two to four hours to smoke to perfection. My preference of smoking wood leans toward fruitwoods, like apple or pear, or even a light flavored
alder. Hickory and oak can overpower the flavor unless used in very small amounts.
A traditional barbecue calls for a heap of
smoky baked beans alongside the smoked pork chops, at least in my neck of the woods. Other options that compliment the taste of the chops well would be a variety of
grilled veggies that can be cooked on your gas or charcoal grill as the pork chops are finishing up in the smoker.