Patricks BBQ Pork Recipes

Intro to Smoking Pork

What is hot smoked pork BBQ cooking?

Here are the basics of BBQ pitmastery.

BBQ smoking is a cooking technique that exposes pork to both heat and wood smoke, cooking it and giving it flavor at the same time. The smoking process can take between up to 20 hours, depending on the size of the pork roast and the consistency of heat in the smoker. The internal temperature of the pork should reach at least 195 degrees.

Types of "heat sources" that generate smoke

Several types of fuels are used in BBQ smokers to generate heat and smoke. Here are some of the more popular options:

  • Charcoal: Charcoal is a classic and widely used fuel for BBQ smokers. It is made by burning wood in a low-oxygen environment, resulting in charred remains. Charcoal briquettes are a common form of charcoal used by smokers due to their consistent burn and longer-lasting heat. Lump charcoal, which consists of irregularly shaped pieces of charred wood, is another option favored for its natural flavor and quick ignition.
  • Electric: Electric smokers rely on electricity as their power source. Heating elements within the smoker generate heat, while wood chips, chunks, or sawdust are added to produce smoke. Electric smokers are known for their convenience and ease of use, requiring minimal monitoring and maintenance.
  • Pellets: Wood pellets are cylindrical-shaped compressed wood particles made from sawdust or wood chips. Pellet smokers/grills are designed to use these pellets as the primary fuel source. Pellets offer convenience and precise temperature control while providing a variety of wood flavors for smoking.
  • Propane: Propane is a popular fuel for gas smokers. Propane tanks supply the necessary heat to cook food and produce smoke. Propane smokers are convenient and easy to use, as they allow for quick heat-up times and temperature control with the turn of a knob. However, it's important to note that while propane smokers provide heat, additional wood chips or chunks are typically added to produce smoke and enhance the flavor.
  • Wood: Wood is arguably the most traditional fuel for BBQ smokers, known for providing rich and distinctive smoke flavors. Different types of wood impart unique flavors to the meat, such as hickory, mesquite, apple, cherry, oak, and pecan. Smokers use wood chunks, chips, or pellets to generate smoke and contribute to flavor.

Cuts of pork diagram

Which cuts of pork can be smoked?

The best cuts of pork to smoke are generally fatty cuts. The high fat content helps keep the pork moist and tender.

  • Pork Butt/Shoulder: This is cut from the upper shoulder of the pig. It is well-marbled with fat and contains a lot of connective tissue. It is often used for pulled pork, slow cooking, roasting, or braising.
  • Pork Loin: The pork loin is a lean, tender cut along the pig's back. It is known for its tenderness and can be prepared as boneless or bone-in roasts, chops, or medallions. It is suitable for grilling, smoking, or frying.
  • Pork Ribs: Pork ribs typically come from the pig's ribcage and are known for their rich flavor and tenderness. They can be divided into two main types: baby back ribs (upper ribcage) and spare ribs (lower ribcage). They are often cooked by grilling, smoking, or baking.
  • Pork Chop: Pork chops are cut perpendicular to the spine, usually from the loin or rib area. They can be bone-in or boneless and come in various thicknesses. Pork chops are versatile and can be cooked through grilling, pan-frying, baking, or broiling.
  • Pork Belly: Pork belly is a fatty and flavorful cut taken from the pig's underside. It contains layers of fat and meat and is commonly used to make bacon. It is also used in various cuisines for braised or crispy pork belly dishes.
  • Pork Tenderloin: The pork tenderloin is a lean and tender cut that runs along the backbone. It is one of the most tender cuts of pork and is ideal for quick cooking methods like grilling, roasting, or sautéing.
  • Fresh Hams and Picnics: These large pork cuts come from the pig's hind leg. Fresh hams and picnics are often used to make ham, but they can also be smoked, roasted or boiled for different dishes.
  • Pork Chops and Steaks: This term refers to pork cuts sliced into individual chops or steaks. They can come from various parts of the pig, including the loin, rib, or shoulder. The cooking method for pork chops and steaks depends on the specific cut and thickness.
  • Pork Shanks: Pork shanks are cuts taken from the lower leg portion of the pig. They are relatively tough and contain a lot of connective tissue. They are commonly used in slow-cooked dishes, such as stews, braises, or soups, where the connective tissue breaks down and adds flavor.

How long does it take to smoke pork?

Cooking times for smoking BBQ pork can vary depending on the cut of pork, the size, and the smoker's temperature. Here are some general guidelines for popular cuts of pork:

Pork Shoulder (Pork Butt):

Size: 6 to 8 pounds
Smoking Temperature: 195-225°F
Estimated Cooking Time: 1.5 to 2 hours per pound
Total Cook Time: 8 to 20 hours

For pulled pork, you want an internal temperature of around 195-205°F for the meat to be tender and easy to pull.

Pork Ribs (Spare Ribs or Baby Back Ribs):

Size: 2.5 to 3.5 pounds for spare ribs, slightly less for baby back ribs
Smoking Temperature: 215-250°F
Estimated Cooking Time: 3 to 6 hours for spare ribs, 2.5 to 4 hours for baby back ribs

Pork Tenderloin:

Size: 1 to 2 pounds
Smoking Temperature: 215-250°F
Estimated Cooking Time: 1.5 to 2 hours

These are only general estimates, and the actual cooking time can be influenced by various factors such as the smoker's efficiency, outdoor temperature, and the cut of meat. To ensure the pork is cooked properly, it's recommended to use a thermometer to check the internal temp.

Cooking Chart

Remember the saying... "if you’re looking, you ain’t cooking." When you open the lid of your smoker, you are letting out heat and smoke which can add to the cook time.

Pork ribs 2.5-6 hours 215-250° F
Pork butt / Picnic / Shoulder 4-5 hours for smoke; wrap and
cook additional 7-8 hours
195-225° F
Pork loin 1.5-2 hours 215-250° F
Pork chops 45 min-1 hour 225-250° F
Pork belly 4 hours for smoke; wrap and
cook additional 3 hours
225-250° F

Is pork is healthy?

Yes! Pork is a versatile and nutrient-dense meat providing some essential nutrients. Here is an overview of the nutritional composition of pork per 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of cooked, smoked meat:

  • Calories: Approximately 250-300 calories, depending on the cut and cooking method.
  • Protein: Pork is a good source of high-quality protein, providing about 25-30 grams per 100 grams. Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, supporting immune function, and maintaining healthy muscles.
  • Fat: Pork contains varying amounts of fat, depending on the cut and trimming. Generally, lean cuts like pork tenderloin have less fat, while cuts like pork belly or ribs have higher fat content. Pork fat contains a mix of saturated and unsaturated fats. For example, pork tenderloin contains about 3 grams of fat per 100 grams, with less than 1 gram of saturated fat.
  • Vitamins: Pork is a good source of various B vitamins, including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. These vitamins are essential in energy metabolism, nervous system function, and red blood cell production.
  • Minerals: Pork provides essential minerals such as iron, zinc, selenium, and phosphorus. Iron is crucial for oxygen transport, while zinc is involved in immune function and wound healing. Selenium acts as an antioxidant, and phosphorus contributes to bone health.
  • Other Nutrients: Pork also contains small amounts of potassium, magnesium, and vitamin D.

Buying a quality cut of pork from the store.

Selecting a good cut of pork involves evaluating factors like the meat's appearance, color, marbling, and overall freshness. Here are some tips to help you choose a high-quality cut:

  1. Color and Appearance: Look for pork cuts that are pinkish-red. Avoid meat that is pale or has a grayish hue. The fat should be creamy white and evenly distributed throughout the meat.
  2. Marbling: Marbling refers to the small streaks of fat running through the meat. Good marbling enhances the flavor and juiciness of the pork. Look for cuts with fine lines of fat evenly distributed throughout the meat.
  3. Firmness: Gently press the meat with your fingers. It should be firm and spring back when touched, indicating freshness. Avoid meat that feels overly soft or mushy.
  4. Odor: Fresh pork should have little to no smell. If the meat has a strong, unpleasant odor, this is a red flag, it might be spoiled!
  5. Sell-by Date: If the meat is packaged, check the sell-by date to ensure it's within the recommended freshness period.
  6. Ask the Butcher: If you have specific cooking needs or preferences, don't hesitate to ask the butcher for advice. They can recommend the best cuts for your intended recipe.
  7. Bone-in vs. Boneless: Bone-in cuts have more flavor and moisture, while boneless cuts can be easier to handle and cook.
  8. Consider the Recipe: Different cuts of pork are suitable for various recipes. For example, pork chops are great for grilling, while pork shoulder is ideal for slow-cooking and pulled pork.

Healthy preparation tips

Remember, when handling raw pork, always follow these food safety practices to prevent cross-contamination and ensure safe consumption.

  • Wash hands, all utensils, containers, cutting boards, and work surfaces with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds (count to 30) before and after handling food.
  •  Thaw pork in the refrigerator or microwave, not at room temperature.
  •  Do not wash raw pork before cooking.
  •  Cook pork immediately after thawing, especially if thawed by microwaving.
  • An instant-read thermometer determines when pork is cooked to a safe temperature. Correctly cooked pork is juicy and tender, with a slight blush of pink in the center, and will be ready when it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F. For large cuts of pork, cook to 150°F and allow the roast to sit on the counter for about 10 minutes before cutting. The temperature will rise to 160°F.
  • Keep hot foods hot (140° F or above) and cold foods cold (40° F or below).
  • Don't leave cooked meat at room temperature for over two hours (one hour in hot weather, 90° F or above).
  •  Cut meat, poultry, and fish on a separate cutting board from the one you use for fresh foods like vegetables, or clean the cutting board between uses.
  • Serve cooked food on a clean plate and use clean utensils. Use separate serving plates and utensils for raw and cooked meats.

Patrick's BBQ Tips:
Try Different Types of Wood

Experiment with various wood to find the smoky flavors that you like best.

Using a wood pellet smoking tube (set on the grates of your grill), you can easily cold smoke cheese or salmon. Or add extra smoke to grilled pork and chicken.

Pork Cooking Resources

Oven finished smoked pork

Here are some regional styles of pork barbecue, including Carolina, Kansas City, Memphis, and Texas BBQ.

Patrick's Pork recipes feature a simple "smoker to oven" BBQ cooking method.

 Pulled Pork •  Pork Ribs •  Pork Loin •  Hot Dogs •  BBQ Dry Rub •  Deep Fried Pork Tenderloin

 Mac and Cheese