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Episode 201: ABC's Of Smoke

Bourbon Brown Sugar Smoked Pork Loin

This pork loin plays pinball on your taste buds, offering the sweetness of brown sugar, the tang of mustard, and the rich smoke flavor of bacon (the bacon also helps keep the meat moist). And just for polish, there’s a Tennessee whiskey glaze.


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Bourbon Brown Sugar Smoked Pork Loin

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Serves 6
  • Equipment: Butcher’s string; 2 cups wood chips or chunks (preferably hickory), soaked for 1 hour in water to cover, then drained

Ingredients

For the pork:

  • 1 center-cut piece of pork loin (2½ to 3 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons Tennessee whiskey
  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite barbecue rub
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 slices bacon

For the glaze:

  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons Tennessee whiskey

  • Barbecue sauce (optional), for serving

Recipe Steps

Step 1: Butterfly the pork loin: Using a very sharp knife, cut the roast almost in half lengthwise through one side (stop about 1 inch from the opposite side). Open the roast up as you would a book. Sprinkle the inside of the roast with 1 tablespoon of the whiskey and let it marinate for 5 minutes. Sprinkle a third of the rub over the inside of the roast. Spread the mustard on top with a spatula, then sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the mustard. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of whiskey on top of the brown sugar. Fold the roast back together (like closing a book) and sprinkle the remaining rub over the outside.

Step 2: Cut four 12-inch pieces of butcher’s string. Position the pieces of string on the work surface so that they are parallel and roughly 2 inches apart. Place a slice of bacon across the strings so that it is perpendicular to and in the center of them. Set the roast on top of the bacon, positioning its long side parallel to the bacon. Place a slice of bacon on top of the roast. Press the remaining 2 slices against the long sides of the roast. Tie each piece of string together around the roast so that they hold the slices of bacon against it. Set the pork roast aside.

Step 3: Make the glaze: Combine the butter, brown sugar, mustard, and whiskey in a saucepan and boil until syrupy, 4 to 6 minutes. Set the glaze aside.

Step 4: Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using a gas grill, place all of the wood chips or chunks in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in the center, preheat the grill to medium, then toss all of the wood chips or chunks on the coals.

Step 5: When ready to cook, place the pork roast on the hot grate, over the drip pan and away from the heat and cover the grill. Cook the roast until cooked through, 1 to 1½ hours. To test for doneness, insert an instant-read meat thermometer into the side of the roast: The internal temperature should be about 160°F. Start basting the roast with some of the glaze after 30 minutes and continue basting every 15 minutes. If you are using a charcoal grill and the pork is not done after 1 hour, you’ll need to add 12 fresh coals to each side.

Step 6: Transfer the cooked roast to a cutting board and let it rest for 5 minutes, then remove and discard the strings. Slice the roast crosswise and drizzle any remaining glaze over it. If you like, serve barbecue sauce alongside.

Recipe Tips

Variation: I’ve written this recipe for a pork loin roast, which is readily available, quick to prepare, and easy to serve. But you can certainly use a pork shoulder. If you do, you’ll need to increase the cooking time by 1½ to 2 hours on a grill or 3 to 4 hours in a smoker.

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