Ham-Cured, Smoked Pork With Cognac-Orange Glaze
Think of this cured, smoked pork loin as ham you can make in a hurry, with 2 days’ curing time and an hour or so of smoking, as opposed to the weeks or even months that a traditional ham takes. Plus, the loin has no bones, so it’s a snap to carve. For the best results, use a heritage pork loin, like Berkshire or Duroc. Depending on your grill, the pork and the weather, smoking time may be as short as 1 hour or as long as 1 1/2 hours. The orange juice in this Cognac-citrus glaze cuts the saltiness of the cure, while the Cognac makes a nice counterpoint to the wood smoke. Besides, brown sugar and orange marmalade go great with salty ham.
- Serves: 6 persons
- ⅔packed cup dark brown sugar
- ½cup kosher salt
- 2teaspoons Prague powder #1
- 2fresh or dried bay leaves
- 2fresh orange zest strips
- 1(3-pound) boneless pork loin
- 2cups freshly squeezed orange juice
- ½cup Cognac
- ½packed cup dark brown sugar
- ¼cup orange marmalade
- 1cinnamon stick
- ¼teaspoon ground cloves
- 1teaspoon cornstarch
- 1tablespoon Cointreau, Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
- 3tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- Sea salt and black pepper
Step 1Make the brine: Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the sugar, salt and Prague powder. Whisk until dissolved and remove from heat. Stir in 1 quart cold water. Pin the bay leaves to the orange zest strips using the cloves, and add them to the brine. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours.
Step 2Wash the pork loin and blot dry. Place it in a baking dish just large enough to hold it.
Step 3Measure out 1/2 cup brine into a measuring cup. Draw the brine into a marinade injector and inject it into the center of the pork loin all over, inserting the needle at 1-inch intervals and drawing it out slowly as you depress the plunger, until you’ve used the full 1/2 cup brine and the brine starts to squirt out of the pork.
Step 4Transfer the pork to a large, heavy-duty resealable plastic bag. Add the brine from the baking dish, plus the remaining brine and seasonings, and tightly seal, squeezing out any air. Return the bagged pork to the baking dish to corral any leaks. Brine the pork in the refrigerator for 24 hours, turning several times along the way so it brines evenly.
Step 5Remove the loin from the brine and place it in another baking dish, reserving the brine. Re-inject the pork loin with the brine in the bag, again using about 1/2 cup (or more if you can get more in), then return the pork to the brine bag and continue brining and turning for another 24 hours, for a total brining time of 48 hours. The meat should turn a shade pinker. At this point, you can dry and smoke the pork loin, but if you brine it for another 24 hours, the flavor will be even richer.
Step 6Drain the brined pork loin in a colander, discarding the brine. Rinse the loin well with cold water, drain again and blot dry with paper towels. Place it on a wire rack over a baking dish and let it dry for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
Step 7Meanwhile, set up your grill for indirect grilling and heat to medium (about 350 degrees). If using wood chips, soak about 3 cups chips in water to cover for 30 minutes, then drain. If using wood chunks, there is no need to soak them.
Step 8Place the pork loin on the grate, fat-side up, over indirect heat, set over a drip pan. Add 1 1/2 cups wood chips or 2 wood chunks to the coals.
Step 9Smoke the pork loin until handsomely browned and cooked through (the internal temperature will be about 155 degrees), about 1 1/2 hours. Add wood chips (about 1 1/2 cups) or chunks (1 large or 2 medium) per hour to the embers to maintain a constant flow of smoke.
Step 10While the pork cooks, make the glaze: Place the orange juice, Cognac, brown sugar, marmalade, cinnamon and cloves in a nonreactive saucepan. Boil over high heat until syrupy and reduced by half, 10 to 15 minutes.
Step 11In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and Cointreau, then carefully whisk the slurry into the glaze. Boil for 1 minute. The glaze will thicken. Whisk in the butter, and season with salt and pepper to taste. (Makes about 1 1/4 cups.)
Step 12Brush the glaze on the pork three times during the last 20 minutes of cooking. Reserve the remaining glaze.
Step 13When the pork is done, transfer to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes. To serve, thinly slice the pork loin across the grain and serve with the remaining glaze on the side.