Scott Schumaker is president of PacificBasin and interim publisher of Hawaii Home + Remodeling. He is also an avid barbecue hobbyist who often tempts co-workers by posting images of his culinary feats on his Instagram, @schuboxphoto. We have convinced him to share his secrets each week this summer with our readers in our Fired Up Friday blog. His grill smoker of choice is a Big Green Egg he purchased from POP Marine and Fishing. He also uses a Weber Summit gas grill, especially for rotisserie cooking, which he got at AirGas Gaspro Kapolei.
Hakuna Matata! When it comes to cheap eats off the smoker, the pork loin is king. Costco and other grocers will often have pork loin on sale for a few bucks a pound. Many people avoid pork loin because it is very lean and therefore easy to overcook into a dry, tasteless mess. By smoking the loin low-and-slow, you will be assured of serving your family moist, deliciously smoky porcine perfection.
The loins from Costco are huge — about 2 to 3 feet of pig. To make them easier to handle, I start by cutting them in half. I then trim all the outer fat and the silver layer underneath the fat. This silver layer will not render when heated. It simply becomes tough and we don’t want that. By removing the fat and silver layer, our rub and smoke will better penetrate the meat. Pork loins are dense and the rub really won’t be able to penetrate very deep, but I still try to prep mine the day before I smoke it so that the loin can marinate in the dry rub.
After halving and trimming the loin, I coat it with olive oil and then use two spice blends. First, I rub in Plowboys Bovine Bold. I then come over the top of that with a heavy sprinkle of John Henry’s Pecan Rub. These two rubs provide the perfect sweet-and-spicy combination for lean pork. All this prep work takes about 20 minutes.
Set your smoker or grill up for an indirect cook and bring the temperature up to 215 to 225 degrees. I use a Weber iGrill2 to help measure my smoker’s cooking temperature and the meat’s internal temperature. I set a water pan in the smoker as well and add a few garlic cloves and fresh rosemary sprigs from the plant on our lanai. This keeps the smoker – and loin – moist throughout the cook and the herbs and garlic in the steam impart some flavor as well. For loin, I use one large chunk of both apple and pecan wood for the smoke.
The key to moist loin is to prevent overcooking. If you follow the USDA temperature guidelines, you will overcook your loin. Don’t let the government dictate how dry your meat is. When the loin hits 120 degrees, pull it off the smoker. Open all your vents and get the coals lava hot so you can sear the loin.
Sear the loin on all sides until the internal temp reaches 125. Pull it off the smoker to rest for about 20 minutes and the temp will keep climbing to about 130 degrees. Then, slice and enjoy. Prep, smoke and enjoy is truly the circle of barbecue life.
So, the next time budgets are tight and you have a family to feed, no worries. Or, as they say in Swahili, hakuna matata, because the loin is king.