Monday, October 1, 2012

Spiced Apple Balsamic Smoked Pork Loin

Apples and pork go together like...well, apples and pork!  Here it is October already and as the days grow shorter and darkness falls earlier, so are the prime days of smoking coming to a close.  Well, here in the north fortunate warm-weather-all-year peeps can luckily smoke all year.  A word of advice to those who are not so warm-weather-advantaged: Smoke while the days are still warm enough to easily maintain the temperature in your smoker...strike while the smoker stays hot!

Not familiar with smoking?  Then let me explain that the meat in the picture above is not burned.  Nope, that's the beautiful bark that develops over low and slow smoking.  It is prized!  It is flavorful!  It is heaven.  You probably can't tell from the picture, but the pork roast is a bone-in center cut loin.  Bone-in equals flavor.  Bone-in equals juiciness and tenderness.  Do you get the idea that I only recommend a bone-in roast for smoking?  Yes, you do.  

Another tip to smoke the best doggone pork every SURE the roast is well marbled with fat to keep it moist.  The fat will melt and as it melts, will infuse the pork with flavor while keeping it from drying out.  Of course, keeping it juicy is also the reason for the marinade.  Therefore, marinade + fat = an extra tender and succulent cut of smoked meat.  MmmmMmmm.

The roast was marinated overnight in a brew of farm-fresh apple cider, mustard, garlic, balsamic vinegar and some lovely fall spices.  Before smoking, I slathered the roast with an apple butter glaze that echoed the mood of the marinade.  Did you notice I said "farm-fresh cider" and  not cider-from-the-grocery-store-shelf?  Cider from the farm is less filtered and has more apple-y flavor, body, color and character...the same for the apple butter.  It makes a difference, believe me.  Love my local farms!  (That means YOU Shenot's, Soergel's and Kaelin's!)

While it's sad to see the waning days of warmth, there ARE advantages to the days of fall.  Let me list a few:

#1.  While tending the smoker, your beer stays colder longer and the ice in your cocktail doesn't melt as quickly.

#2.  Crisp, cool nights make for wonderful sleeping with the windows open.

#3.  Hay rides!

#4.  It's not long until little ghoulies and goblins knock at the front door for tricks and treats.

#5.  Shopping at favorite local farm markets for apples, pears, pumpkins, winter squash, beets, cabbages...the bounty of the field, fresh and fabulous.

What?  You don't have a favorite farm store?  Check the newspapers and the internet and FIND A FARM STORE NEAR YOU!  

Spiced Apple Balsamic Smoked Pork Loin

  • 3 1/2 pound center cut pork loin roast, bone-in

  • 1 pint apple cider
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons stoneground mustard
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 3/4 cup apple butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard, Colman's
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

The day before you intend to smoke the roast, mix the apple cider, balsamic vinegar and 2 T EACH of granulated garlic, stoneground mustard and Kosher salt in a STURDY zip lock plastic bag.  Once the marinade is mixed completely, put the roast carefully into the marinade, squeeze out all the air and seal.  Place the bagged roast into a deep bowl and refrigerate. (The bowl is to keep any leaking marinade from making a mess in your fridge.)

Early the next day start your smoker using soaked applewood chips. 

Once you've started the smoker, make the glaze mixing the apple butter, Colman's mustard, granulated garlic, balsamic vinegar 1/2 t. each of cinnamon, ginger and cayenne, the salt & pepper.  Mix well.  Slather the glaze all over the roast thickly.  You'll have some glaze left - save that to apply part way through the smoking if you wish.

Smoke, replenishing charcoal and soaked wood chips as necessary until done.  The roast took about 6 hours for ours to smoke - yours may take more or less time depending on the temp of your smoker, the size of your roast, etc.- so plan accordingly to get the meat on the table in time for dinner!  Remove the roast to a platter and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

NOTE:  If you don't own a smoker or just don't feel like doing it outside, you can roast this in the oven as you would normally - no smoke flavor, but still delish.  

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and roast the pork for 30 minutes.  Reduce the temp to 350 degrees and continue roasting until tender and cooked through the way you like your pork.

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