We all know that pork makes a perfect candidate for smoke-cooking: Think of bacon or ham that has spent days in the smokehouse. Lately, however, I've discovered the joys of the stovetop smoker, a simple device that allows me to smoke small, lean cuts of meat, like pork tenderloin, quickly, with a minimum of fuss, regardless of the weather. The stovetop smoker is basically a rectangular box with a drip pan and rack for the food. Small wood chips or sawdust are spread in the bottom and then the smoker is heated on the stove, causing the wood to smolder and smoke. The food is added, the lid on the box is closed, and within minutes I have a smoky little piece of meat ready for serving or saving. I've found that while not necessary, brining the pork, as in this recipe, helps to add a little more flavor and compliment the smoky taste. The tenderloins are flavor-brined for longer than I normally recommend here because they should be a little saltier to stand up to the intense smoke of the stovetop smoker.
1/4 cup maple syrup
3 cups water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 cup ice cubes
2 pork tenderloins (1 to 1-1/4 pounds each)
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1. In a bowl stir together the maple syrup, water, and salt until the salt dissolves. Stir in the ice cubes to cool the mixture to 45 degrees F or below.
2. Put the tenderloins in a 1-gallon zip-lock plastic bag and pour in the brine. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours. Remove tenderloins from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.
3. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the tenderloins and cook, turning to brown them on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
4. Sprinkle 1/2 cup wood chips or sawdust on the bottom of a stovetop smoker. Place the smoker's drip pan on top of the wood chips and put the tenderloins on the drip pan rack. Heat the smoker over medium-high heat until the wood begins to smoke, then close the smoker lid. Reduce the heat to medium. After 15 minutes, remove the lid and check the internal temperature of the pork. The pork is done when the internal temperature is 140 degrees to 145 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. If necessary, replace the lid and continue to cook until the desired temperature is reached, checking at 5-minute intervals. (You may need to add more chips or sawdust.) Remove the tenderloins to a platter and let rest 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Chef's Notes: While smoking with a stovetop smoker is a simple process, you need a good exhaust hood and it must be kept running throughout the smoking process. If you don't have a good exhaust hood, then put your stovetop smoker on a hot plate outdoors or on a hot gas or charcoal grill. Use only chips or sawdust provided by the stovetop smoker manufacturer or purchase wood chips or sawdust that are meant to be used for smoking Leftover smoked tenderloin is delicious cold in sandwiches (like a mild ham). Or slice, briefly pan-fry, and serve for breakfast.
Bruce Aidells's Complete Book of Pork
A Guide to Buying, Storing, and Cooking the World's Favorite Meat
by Bruce Aidells
Hardcover: 352 pages
$29.95; $42.50 (CAN)
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created February 2005
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