Published July 1, 2009.
To achieve juicy glazed pork infused with deep smoky flavor without a smoker, we couldn’t let the chops lie down on the job.
Good smoke flavor and a charred crust is an elusive grilling combination. Smokiness generally requires a lengthy exposure to a slow fire, while a charred crust requires a blast of high heat to quickly sear the exterior of the meat before the interior turns dry and leathery.
We wanted chops that had it all: charred crust, rosy-pink, ultra-moist meat, and true smoke flavor throughout.
We decided to employ a technique we had perfected for Pan-Seared Thick-Cut Pork Chops (see related recipe): reversing the cooking by starting low and finishing with a quick sear. To reap the benefits of both high and low heat, we used a two-level fire and started our chops under cover on the cooler side of the grill, allowing the smoke to do its job for about 25 minutes. We then applied a few coats of sauce and finished by searing them, uncovered, over hot coals. This produced our smokiest, most tender chops yet. But since we only had half a grill to work on at a time, it also meant we could only cook two chops at a time. Our answer was reorganizing the coals by banking them on either side of the grill with a disposable aluminum pan in the center. This created a cooler zone large enough for all four chops to cook more evenly.
With the technique perfected, we determined that bone-in chops were our best bet. The bones add flavor to the meat as it cooks and contain connective tissues and fat that break down to lend suppleness. What’s more, the hollow structure of a bone acts as an insulator, slowing down heat penetration. We used this to our advantage by resting each chop on its bone instead of laying it flat. To keep them from toppling over, we speared them together with skewers, making sure to leave a good inch between each one to allow smoke to circulate, then stood them upright in the center of the grill with bone, not meat, touching the grill. This allowed us to keep the chops over the fire for a full 30 minutes, after which we removed the skewers, applied the glaze, and finished the chops over hot coals for that crusty char.list of recipes