Barbecue enthusiasts swear by smoking as the best way to flavor meat such as pork, whether you use a standing smoker, a grill with a smoker attachment or simply add wood chips to your regular grill. Smoked meat should have a dry crust while retaining moisture inside -- an achievement that takes some finesse. Meat tends to dry out if smoked and cooked with dry heat and when the juices are allowed to drain or evaporate from the meat. A few simple practices can help keep smoked pork moist when you cut into it.
Things You'll Need
- Pan or metal bowl
- Pastry brush
- Marinade or barbecue sauce
- Serving plate
- Carving knife
- Meat thermometer
Leave at least 1/4 inch of fat on the pork when you prepare it for smoking. While conventional nutritional advice would have you remove as much fat as possible, the fat drips over the meat as it melts to keep the pork moist. Set the pork fat side up so the juices drip down over the meat.
Add a pan of water while smoking the pork to provide moist heat. Smokers often have a small pan specifically for water. Alternatively, you can put your coals and wood pieces on wood side of a grill with a pan of water on the other side. The water creates steam inside the smoker to regulate temperature and create humidity inside the smoker.
Brush the meat with a wet marinade or barbecue sauce as it smokes to help keep it moist. This process, called wet mopping, requires a brush to evenly apply the wet ingredients. Brush it on about once every hour during a long smoking process.
Remove the pork from the smoker and allow it to rest for about half an hour so the juices redistribute throughout the meat. As meat cooks, the juices move to the center as the proteins contract, but redistribute to the edges as it cools. If you pierce or cut the meat before the end of this resting period, the juices will simply drain out of the meat, making it dry.
Wait to cut the pork until you plan to serve it. Even with a proper resting period, the juices in the meat can evaporate if cut too soon. For pulled pork, mix a barbecue sauce with the pulled meat immediately to keep it moist.
Tips & Warnings
- The juice can drain out through the smallest puncture hole, even one from a thermometer used while cooking. Instead of piercing the meat several times with an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature, add a thermometer at the start of cooking and leave it in the meat while smoking. An oven probe thermometer, for example, has a probe to read the temperature and a cord that connects it from the smoker or oven to a digital screen you set on the counter.
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