11/3/13 - Stuck in the house all day Sunday meant it was time to fire up the pit. I had a pork loin in the freezer so that solves what to smoke. I decided to try a stuffed pork loin. Pork loin is very lean so a good moist stuffing helps offset any dryness.
So what to stuff it with? The few recipes I found were impressive but way too labor intensive. This is not Cafe Bistro. So I dumbed it down to Stove Top stuffing left over from last Thanksgiving. I added some apple, pecans and cranberries. Good enough for the backyard.
The wife came home from the grocery store with mesquite charcoal so I guess that choice was taken away from me. I had a few mesquite chunks left over so that's that. Pork loin is delicate so you want to go soft on smoke. I will use only charcoal and one chunk of mesquite.
The 3lb package of pork lion had two separate loins about 2 inches thick. First I trimmed the fat and silver. I "unrolled" each loin by filleting 1/2 inch from the board. You cut sideways at same height above the board until you "unrolled" the loin. I overlapped the two loins so I had about a 8 1/2 inch wide sheet of pork loin.
I sprinkled a little Kosher salt to start the dry brining process. I then spread 2 cups of prepared Stove Top stuffing over both loins and padded down tight. I then rolled the lion and stuffing like a towel. Tied the pork loin with string about 1 inch apart to keep everything together. Looks good so far.
After it was tied up, I sprinkled some kosher salt over the outside along with cracked black pepper. Stuck in the frig uncovered until cook time.
My target temperature is 145F. Last time it only took about 1 1/2 hours. Since its a lean muscle, there is not a bunch of connective tissue to break down. There is no need to go low and slow. Get the fire hot and go baby go! Last time I got the pit up to 300F and everything worked out fine.
I started with a full chimney of charcoal with brown paper bags I collected from the Specs liquor store. Placed the loin in the pit. Stuck the remote control thermometer in the thickest part. Placed a chunk of mesquite in the center of the fire box. Opened the dampener on fire box all the way and dampener on smoke stack 1/2 way for some serious air flow. Once coals were flaming over the top of the chimney, I poured them over the mesquite chunk. Burn baby burn!
At 20 minutes fire pit was up to 209F and pork loin was at 63F. Started another full chimney. At 45 minutes I put 2nd chimney on. Fire jumped to 230F and pork loin rose to 79F. At 60 minutes pit was up to 285F and loin rose to 103F. At 90 minutes pit dropped to 280F but loin rose to 122F. Cool weather was messing with my temp control. Started another 1/2 chimney to finish off the loin. At 105 minutes pit fell to 266F but loin continued to rise to 139F. Poured 1/2 a chimney of flaming hot coals to get me over the finish line. At 110 minutes pit rose back up to 278F and loin rose to 141F. Time to set the table! At 120 minutes pit was back up to 286F and pork loin reached the magic temp of 145F. Let's eat!
Pork Loin: Very Good. A rosy red interior beneath a noticeable smoke ring. Near perfect tender and moist. Smoke was perfect, added a new flavor dimension but did not overpower. The apples and cranberries added a nice texture and sweetness. Could not taste the pecans. The stuffing tasted like stuffing. It needed a sauce or gravy to put it over the top. Its a lean cut, the stuffing definitely helped to offset the lean pork but a sauce or gravy would have sent the flavor over the top.