You know until now, I was never a huge pork chop fan. Pork chops tend to be bland and dry and not spectacular like a rib eye steak….that is until now!!! I never ever thought a pork chop would be runner up to my favorite food in the world which is a rib eye steak!!! These pork chops were so tender and so juicy and all around amazing. I want to share the brining recipe that I developed to make them so good and a device I have recently learned about that will help you make smoked chops easily any time you want without a huge expense and without a lot of trouble.
My friend Joe from Joe's BBQ House ( YouTube Channel ) not only taught me how to smoke cheese but also taught me about these amazing smoker mazes!!! Thank you Joe !!!! I have been using the smoking maze for approximately four months now and love it so much I ordered a second one! It is so easy and convenient. I will post a link to Joe's video so you can see for yourself and if you want subscribe to his channel its full of great information.
Above is the Amazon link to the smoker maze I used. If you don't mind it does help support the blog and my youtube channel and Amazon does give a small commission on qualifying purchases. Thank you!!!
The first thing I did was brine my pork chops. I can not tell you how much this improved my chops. You will find all kinds of debate on the internet about dry brining and wet brining and everything else. What I care about are actual results and this brine delivered.
Mama Julie's Brine Recipe
1 Tbsp. ( heaping ) of Juniper berries
1 tsp. ( heaping ) of pepper corns - I do prefer green and they aren't expensive if you know where to get them. Amazon sells a brand called Badia - I buy the large container and it will last me for years!!! It is approximately $17.00 for a large container. I think the quality is great and its not as expensive as most of the other brands. I will put a link below the recipe.
4-6 cloves of garlic
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves ( if your bay leaves are older you may want to add more of them )
3 Tbsp. sugar ( I used Lakanto Monkfruit Sugar as I am currently on a low carb diet )
3 Tbsp. salt
1 cup of water
4 cups of ice
zip lock bags to put your pork chops in
In a mortar and pestle smash your juniper berries, pepper corns and cloves. Your not going to grind them up your just barely smashing them to open them up to release their flavor. Get a medium pot warming up ( see my video ) and toss in these smashed spices. Allow them to toast for a minute or two. Just barely smash your cinnamon stick and garlic. Add those to the pan as well along with your bay leaves. Allow everything to toast another minute or two. Add in your 1 cup of water, 3 Tbsp. salt and 3 Tbsp. sugar ( or sugar substitute if you choose ). Allow this mixture to warm up and simmer for several minutes to release all those flavors. After several minutes and the salt and sugar has dissolved, add in your ice to immediately cool your brine down.
I used this brine recipe to brine approximately 12 pork chops. They were thick, about 2 inches thick. If you use thick pork chops like this, I would brine them over night. If you use a thinner pork chop 4 -6 hours would be more appropriate.
After your pork chops have brined, just lightly rinse them off and allow them to drain. I wanted to rinse of most of the salt but not all the flavor.
When you are ready to cook your pork chops and if you want them smoked, get your smoker maze going. I used a culinary blow torch to get mine going. This worked really well! I love that thing and wouldn't want to ever be without it. All you have to do is fill the maze up with the type of wood pellets you like and light one end on fire until it starts to smolder and smoke. I keep two spray bottles near by. One small one with a fine mist so if the pellets get too warm and I want to slow it down, all I have to do is lightly spray them. The larger one I kept around and I use that if I have any flare ups on the grill. I place the maze on either aluminum foil or an aluminum tray. I place the maze and the tray on the far end of my grill and make sure the burners in that area are off. You don't want any flame under the maze. We want the pellets to smolder and smoke not to catch on fire.
Next, I lay on the grill at the other end ( the opposite side as the smoker maze ) aluminum foil or an aluminum bbq tray. On top of this I will place my pork chops. I like to keep only 1 or 2 burners on and I like to turn the burner(s) on that is in between my pork chops and my smoker maze. I lay slices of bacon on top of my pork chops so that they will cook along with them and baste the pork chops in smokey bacon goodness, which is just one more way to keep the pork chops moist and flavorful.
Now the latest ( as of me writing this blog ) from the FDA on pork is that the pork has to be 145 F with a minimum resting time of 3 minutes. Make sure when you make your pork chops you double check the latest safe temperatures from the FDA. The way I like to serve this is drizzled with either garlic butter or brushed with a little of your favorite BBQ Sauce. I serve them over my Keto Country Gravy aka White Gravy and with either creamed or fully loaded cauliflower or Mama Julie's mashed potatoes. I will put a link to my video on my Keto Country Gravy below this so you can make that if you like.