Ever since I got my Akorn Kamado I’ve been smoking something pretty much every weekend, generally whatever is on sale that week. If you’re looking for a great grill/smoker combination I highly recommend one. They take some practice to use properly but once you get the hang of them they’re amazing.
For this past weekend’s smoking I picked up two of these 6 lb pork loins for dirt cheap.
My plan was to smoke them both, then use some to make some smoked pork chili and leave the rest for sandwiches and general snacking.
I’m a fan of using dry rubs when smoking. I’m also a fan of making my own spice mixes, so I whipped up a homemade dry rub with some paprika, sage, oregano, chipotle, cayenne pepper, chili pepper, salt, black pepper, brown sugar and white sugar.
Once the rub was ready I gave both pork loins a healthy coating of rub and wrapped them up tight with cling wrap, then stuck them in the fridge to sit overnight. This gives the meat some time to absorb the flavor of the rub.
Smoking the Pork
The next day I fired up the grill (and, sadly, forgot to take photos of this part), using lump charcoal with some hickory wood chunks added for flavor (a nice thing about the Kamado vs an electric smoker is that there’s no need to soak the wood chunks, so there’s one less step to worry about). Once the grill was up to temperature (about 225 degrees) I put the pork on, inserted my remote meat thermometer into one of the loins, closed the lid and waited.
The pork loins are thin so they don’t take nearly as long to come up to temperature as a larger cut such as a pork butt, and after three hours in the smoker they were up to 160 degrees and ready to come off the grill I was a bit worried that they might come out dry, but the end result was amazingly juicy, so juicy in fact that the glass pan ended up with a lot of pork juice in it. My wife, who’s a bit of a picky eater and not a fan of spicy food at all, couldn’t stop raving about how delicious they turned out!
I love making chili, and I like it really hot. Habaneros used to be my go-to pepper until I found ghost peppers, Trinidad Scorpions and Carolina Reapers. Usually I use the dried & ground stuff, because it’s easier to find, and chopping up these hot peppers is time consuming and requires careful handling to avoid burning sensitive areas. But as luck would have it, on my way to the checkout after picking up the pork I passed by this lonely pack of peppers sitting by themselves in a produce display, and I knew they had to come home with me. This is the first time I’ve made chili with fresh peppers hotter than habaneros.
My chili recipe is pretty free-form but the base is always the same. A couple large cans of crushed tomatoes for the bulk, four cans of beans (usually black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans and a random fourth bean type), salt, garlic, cinnamon, cumin, and brown sugar (I find the sweetness complements the heat nicely). Then depending on my mood or what I have on hand I’ll toss in some combination of powdered chiles, and maybe some fresh onion or bell pepper if I have some I need to get rid of.
Once the chili base was in the slow cooker I took about half a pork loin (around 3 lbs), sliced it thin, and then tore the slices by hand into chunks before tossing it into the pot. I then put on a pair of latex gloves and carefully stemmed & de-seeded the peppers before finely dicing them. I put the entire pack in (around 8 peppers), so I went light on adding any other spicy ingredients, other than some generic ground chile pepper and a little chipotle for flavor.
After six hours on slow cook this was the delicious, fiery result:
(once again I forgot to take a picture, so by this point it’s already half gone…)
Originally I wanted to make pulled pork for my chili, but I couldn’t find any pork butts on sale, and as it turns out pork loin doesn’t really work for pulling. I should also have probably thought about exactly how hard it’s gonna be to eat so much meat before it goes bad….but the price on the pork loins was just too good to pass up!