How to make it

  • Note: Maintain a temperature as close as possible to 225 degrees. If the temperature stabilizes above 250 degrees, partly close the grill’s vent beneath the charcoal, leaving a crack for air circulation. Open it again gradually as the temperature drops. (Watch the stream of smoke coming through the top vent. If the smoke dies out before the food is cooked, start with more wood next time, adding one or two extra chunks on the edge of the charcoal.) You can also drop wood chips into the fire through the top grate any other time the lid is off, but because of the heat loss, we don’t advise removing the cover for that purpose alone, unless the smoke stream has disappeared. Note that each time you take the lid off the grill, it will add ten minutes or more to your total cooking time.
  • 1. Toast fennel, cumin, and coriander over medium heat in small skillet, shaking pan occasionally to prevent burning, until first wisps of smoke appear, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cool to room temperature, then mix with remaining ingredients. Grind to powder in spice grinder or with mortar and pestle. Transfer to small bowl and set aside.
  • 2. Rub each pork chop with 1 teaspoon spice rub, then sprinkle with salt. Let rubbed chops stand, loosely covered, in refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours. (Can be sealed in a plastic bag and refrigerated for 2 to 4 days.)
  • 3. Two hours or more before you plan to start cooking, place four wood chunks and a handful of wood chips in a pan of water to soak. About forty-five minutes before you plan to start cooking, remove the top grate from the grill and heat twenty-five charcoal briquettes in a chimney starter (sold at outdoor supply stores) until all the coals are covered with white ash. Alternatively, stack the briquettes on one side of the bottom grate and heat them there. Line a standard-size loaf pan with aluminum foil, fill it two-thirds full of water, and place it on the bottom grate opposite the charcoal.
  • 4. Close all except one of the vents underneath the grill and use long-handled tongs to spread the heated briquettes in a single layer on the bottom grate, concentrating them directly above the open vent, (see illustration 1).
  • 5. Arrange the coals so they are touching but not overlapping, situated to provide a bed for the wood pieces. Place a handful of soaked wood chips and two of the chunks on the briquettes, (illustration 2).
  • 6. Replace the top grate. Place pork chops directly over the pan of water, on the far side of the grill from the charcoal (illustration 3). Put the lid on the grill, with the top vent positioned above the food and fully opened.
  • 7. Insert the probe end of a candy thermometer or grilling thermometer into the top vent of the grill (illustration 4), placing the tip as close as possible to the cooking area without touching the food. The head should hold the thermometer in place and be clearly visible.
  • 8. Temperature should remain steady at 225 degrees. If temperature starts dropping below, remove the grill lid and top grate, and add six or seven coals to the fire with long-handled tongs, plus enough wood chips and chunks to replenish the initial supply (illustration 5). Repeat the process as needed.
  • 9. Smoke pork chops until chops are firm but not hard, about 1 1/2 hours. Serve.

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