It is with great adoration, yet reserved applause, that this Minnesotan declares the arrival of Spring. I came out of my hole the other day, and I saw my shadow, so that must mean something I figure. I have seen motorcycles too, whizzing up and down the local roadways. Golfers milling through the local foliage in search of wayward shots. The turdus americanus is also in town, hopping about the semi-green grass in search, I suppose, of a good worm or two. I have noted likewise, that the ice has dissolved off the local lakes and waterways, and people of generally good ilk are walking to their mail boxes with out the aid of down parkas or thermal underwear. Things are looking up in other words! And just below it all, quivering in the trees and bushes, in the brown fields and winding stream banks, is that once upon a time and long ago lost color that is green. Chlorophyll! Glorious galleys of green chlorophyll. And it tingles and aches, leashed by a solar clock, waiting patiently to explode.
On the pit tonight, a house favorite. Hickory smoke pork chops with a maple glaze. They’re real easy to do too, so let’s get after it.
These bone-in chops came smoked right out of the package, and I swear smelled good enough to eat right there, but like any pit keeper worth his tongs, we’re going to double smoke the chops on the old kettle grill. Oh yes! Placing them opposite a good bed of mature coals, with a few small chunks of hickory wood added to the fire, we were ready for action. We lightly sprinkled the chops in garlic and onion salt, and placed the old, black enameled lid on, tweaked the damper, and caught the draft. Soon aromatic plumes of hickory smoke mingled about the patio, signifying to thee yet another pit session in progress. I was about to assume the proper BBQ posture in the pit-side man chair, but a maple glaze needs to be made, and such things don’t make themselves you know. Here is how to do the glaze.
- 3/4 Maple Syrup
- 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Ketchup
- 2 Tablespoons Mustard
- 1 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
Stir it all together and bring to a boil. Then remove from heat.
With about ten minutes left in the cook, we varnished on the maple glaze, with greater Picasso-like brush strokes. You’ll want to stay mindful here, making sure your chops are indirect still, for the sugars in the glaze can get burned easier than a kindly old grandma in a used car lot. Be good to your chops, people, and unto your grandmas too! Keep the hickory smoke wafting, and repeatedly brush on the glaze, frequently flipping the chops. Open up the bottom damper, and get the heat up if you can, for to caramelize your spoils aside a hemorrhaging bed of coals.
I pulled the man chair up close to the pit, tongs still hand, and tarried there a spell, like pit keepers do. The aromas of smokey pork mingle with the freshened, April breeze. I leaned back, left leg crossed over right, and mused over the cottony clouds parading over head. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to do this. To loiter pit-side and watch the clouds go by, that is with out fusing my hind-end to a subzero, ice-encrusted patio chair. Outdoor leisure only operates for so long when the temperatures court that of a Popsicle factory. But today was different. No jacket needed. And the sun tarried aloft more than adequately to see to cook by. Mallards chortled out on the pond. Blue Jays darted to and fro. And the sweet aromas of perfectly executed pork wafted in the air. I smiled to myself. I could sit here all day, just watching the world spin, and I might have iffin I weren’t so hungry right now. Our supper is done. Lets plate up these chops, and commence to doing what men do best – stuffing face!
Maple Glazed Hickory Smoked Pork Chops hot off the grill. A delightful blend of sweet and smokey meat sure to take your belly straight to church! Man!
It was a good day as days go. Plumes of cherry wood smoke in a cold November breeze. Black Capped Chickadees flirting to and fro, snatching seeds from the feeder. A pond frozen over, hard now, and awaiting its impending snowfall. A gentleman of leisurely BBQ, I crossed my legs and shifted slightly in my chair, and watched the day unwind, patron to the pit. A day where many folk I know, and few hundred million I don’t, dare the frothy seas of consumerism, shoulder-to-shoulder, seeking out what ever it is they could live without any other day but this. I don’t get it people. I don’t get it because there is no question the proper thing to do on Black Friday, iffin that is you have it off. And that is to smoke a ham of course! So pull up a seat and a hot brew, and we’ll tell you a little more about the process, and how it went, this heady business of smoking a ham.
Our Black Friday Ham started innocently enough, with a humble spiral cut procured from the refrigerated aisles of a local grocer. A tip of the hat to the deli lady there, and a sampling of her chip dip, I made haste for the door, ham tucked under my wing like an NFL full back. I was off in a cloud of camel dust, you might say. Or would be I suppose, iffin I lived in the desert. And come to think of it, drove a camel there. Anyways, when I got home, the ham was lovingly rubbed down with brown sugar on each flap of meat, then hit with a little Suckle Busters Competition Rub, for an additional depth of seasoning to the flavor profile. And I took my sweet pit boy time with it, too, doing it right, making sure not a slice of precious ham went unloved.
The pit was preheated to 250, and the cherry wood smoke had thinned out some by the time I placed the ham on the top grate. I basted it down with a little apple juice, and gently placed on the huge, enameled lid of the Weber Smokey Mountain. Cherry wood smoke soon was aloft, and for the next three hours, and maybe even longer than that, the world gently twirled. The aromas of sizzling ham and cherry wood, oh what a fine and pleasant respite it was from the retail gods and the consumeristic melee thrashing about the city. And there was great novelty too, in not being a part of it.
Now you might be asking, why smoke a ham if hams come already smoked? Well, trust us when we say, by double-smoking your run-of-the-mill ham, you will aptly up the flavor of the beast by ten-fold. And nary will you encounter a finer prize. The meat can take it. Nay, it wants it. It craves smoke like a woman desires more shoes. I don’t get it either. We like to use fruit woods on ham, but hickory, or pecan, or others are just as well. And we basted the ham in its own juices from time to time too, giving it some love, and some attention. An hour before it was done, we brushed on the maple and brown sugar glaze, which ushered it by the arm to the next level of optimum hamhood.
Maple and Brown Sugar Glaze
- 1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
- 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Apple Juice
- 1 TBSP Mustard
When glazing the ham, open all the vents on your pit, maximizing air flow there so to get it good and hot. This will help in the caramelization of the sugars. We will turn an eye if you need to do this part of the process in your oven. No one needs to know. Whence the ham looks right, and smells right, and samples correctly as per your pit master privilege, plate up the succulence at once, and offer it unto your loved ones. And then tarry in the wake of deeds well done, smiling faces, and the aromas of a perfectly execute ham.
Like I said, it was a good day, as days go. Amen.
Cherry Smoked Spiral Cut Ham with a delightful Maple and Brown Sugar Glaze. You can do other things on black Friday I suppose, but why…
So I was out at the pit the other night, raking about a bed of orange-glowing coals and smoldering embers. Well the word “night” isn’t quite the choice word I guess, when it’s only five in the afternoon. But what in the heck else was I supposed to call it, when the stars were already out, and the old Weber kettle is silently straddled its own moon shadow. Might as well have been the dark of night. All of that at five PM and two degrees below freezing too, is what you get in Minnesota come November. But like an ugly puppy or something, we love it anyway.
I flipped the old cooking grate over the coals, almost burned through from years of patio service, and scrubbed it down with a wire brush. Moonbeams dropped through the snow-tinted spruce trees whilst I plopped a handsome chunk of apple wood, through the access panel on the grate, directly onto the coals. It quickly caught flame, as I slipped on the old, enameled lid, and the aromatic pleasure of apple wood smoke soon filled the patio. To round off the ambiance, I clicked on the pit radio, and old Beethoven was doing his thing again. His ridiculously famous Moonlight Sonata, which at the time, seemed poetically apt, this night, under the shimmering stars and pale-blue moon wash. It relaxed me at once, patron to the pit, and soon two, portly pork chops met their destiny over the coals. And whilst the meat sizzled over the pit’s fiery bosom, I could feel my foot dutifully slide off the accelerator pedal of life, as the tendrils of wood smoke curled, and the soft music ascended into the night.
Let me tell you a little more about these chops. These particular ones came pre-smoked straight from the ranch we buy them from. They smelled fabulous right out of the sack, which, when you think about it, maybe ain’t a half-bad compliment for a pig. Anyways, even tho they were already smoked, of course we would smoke them again, because that is what we do, and amp up the flavor ten-fold, using apple wood. Before they hit the grate, however, I dusted them over in liberal fashion with one of our pit favorites, Famous Dave’s Rib Rub. That stuff works on everything. And it excels on pork chops.
Whilst the chops came along opposite the hot coals, and under the soft light of the kerosene lamp, I whipped together a batch of maple glaze for to bring our culinary end game to a proper and most agreeable dismount. Like an Olympic gymnast flipping through the air in one of them triple-whirly-toed-double-tucked-front-hand spring deals, it doesn’t garner the mojo if they don’t last stick the landing. This glaze, needless to say, stuck it like a lawn dart.
In a sauce pan over the coals, mix up the following:
- 3/4 Cup Maple Syrup
- 1 Teaspoon Mustard
- Pinch of Salt
- Pinch of Pepper
- Pinch of Garlic Powder
- 1/2 Cup finely diced apple (optional)
When the chops were of edible quality, I lovingly varnished them over with a fair coating of the maple glaze. Bits of apple clinging here and there, and after a fashion of in-direct cooking, the sugars caramelize some, as they ought to, wrought in smoke, and bathed in heat. The flavors, the time and the effort all come together now in one, last, glorious song that would leave Beethoven himself, verklempt. Is that your stomach I hear, bellowing? Plate up this succulent end game, your Sonata in Pork, and offer it unto your people, for you have done a good thing here indeed, amid the wispy plumes of wood smoke and the pale-blue moonbeams which tarried there. Amen.