This is one of those recipes that is so simple and so delicious that I feel like I’m cheating by making it. Like I’m cooking up something premade from the freezer section that is so much better than I expected as long as I can ignore all the crap they put in there to make it so good and have a shelf life of about 14 years. No, this grilling recipe has none of that added garbage. It’s simply meat, brine, rub, smoke and sear. There was a little basting as well.
Riley’s Pork Loin Ingredients:
1 pork loin
1 cup apple juice
1/8 cup table salt
2 tbsp garlic, minced
10 turns black pepper
10 turns white pepper
2 tbsp Riley’s Salt Free All Purpose Seasoning
I know a lot of people aren’t believers in brining. I went to it kicking and screaming. I’ve done many side by side, blind taste tests between brined and not brined and brined has been the unanimous winner on pork every time. And it only takes about 3 minutes of actual prep work. Place the pork loin in a ziplock bag with the apple juice, salt, garlic and pepper. Close the bag, churn until the salt is dissolved and put in the fridge until the next day. That’s all brining is:
If you only have a couple hours to brine, increase the salt by a tbsp and make sure to rotate it after an hour to get full coverage of the pork loin. And of course for those of you who are going to completely disregard my insistence on brining and skip that step, I would suggest using the regular Riley’s All Purpose Seasoning as you will need the salt.
Now for a little food science. Why brine? Brining does three things. The salt water breaks down connective tissues which makes meat more tender. It also infuses the meat with the salt water solution which makes meat juicier. The fact that I have apple juice, garlic and pepper in there means that the solution that goes into the meat will have flavor in it as well thus flavorizing the pork loin. So it tenderizes, moisturizes and flavorizes. The three things I want with good meat is tender, juicy and tasty. Check, check and absolutely check! It also helps if you start off with great meat and in this case I got the pork loin at Mateker Meats & Catering so I know the meat is excellent quality.
The next day remove the pork loin from the brine, rinse under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Place it in a disposable aluminum pan:
This was a small loin, only about 1.7 lbs. Any bigger and I would’ve needed a bigger pan.
Now, hit it with the Riley’s Salt Free All Purpose Seasoning. You can purchase Riley’s in that link or at Sam’s Club or Schnuck’s in the Midwest centered on St. Louis. I highly recommend it as a very versatile rub that can be used on grilled food and even stuff cooked inside (if you’re in to that sort of thing):
Make sure to coat it all the way around and each end:
Fire up the grill for two zone grilling with heat on one side and nothing on the other and place the pan with the Riley’s pork loin in the side with no heat and a chunk of smoke wood on the other. In this case, I used peach wood for the smoke:
I’m grilling this in a Kamado style grill so I’m guessing some of you are wondering why I’m not using the place setter and putting the pork loin in the middle. Because I want to sear at the end and if I use the place setter, I have to take everything off the grill, including the grill grate to get the place setter out in order to sear directly over the coals. Instead I have a half moon kiln shelf on the left under the aluminum pan that helps deflect the heat with the coals piled up on the right.
Target temp inside the grill is between 300-350. Normally I would go closer to 300, but this grill’s sweet spot is 350. I have a helluva time getting the temps below 350 without taking them all the way down to 200. It’s like I have low (200), medium (350-400) and lava hot (800) on this grill. I need a new charcoal grill!
After 50 minutes in the smoke here is what the Riley’s pork loin looks like. Browning up nicely:
Needs a basting with the fat from the bottom of the pan:
You should baste at 30 minutes and then do so every 10 minutes until it is ready for the sear. This one is 137 degrees internal temperature:
At 135-140 go ahead and sear. Always cook to temperature and not time. A bigger loin and a cooler fire could double the cooking time so always rely on a thermometer and not the clock. In this case, and as seen above, I have a Thermapen instant read thermometer. I use this thing ALL the time. I highly, sincerely recommend it.
Grilling over the side with the hot coals to give it a good sear and caramelize the proteins on the outside:
Seared and sitting about 143:
By the way, it’s really hard to hold a Thermapen in the meat and take pictures with a DSLR. My thermometer assistant for the evening was my best friend, Chad:
Once I seared it on each side and it got to about 145 internal temp, removed it from the grill and let the roast rest for about 6-7 minutes before slicing:
Then I sliced and plated with some grilled corn:
My only disappointment with the cookout and photo shoot was that I was running out of light by the time I sliced the meat and was unable to quite capture how juicy this meat was. I took a picture of my last bite inside but still didn’t quite get it. It shows I still have a long way to go in terms of my photography skills:
The loin was almost as tender as a pork tenderloin but much juicier. Brining had something to do with that as well as starting with a great piece of meat from Mateker’s. The apple juice imparted a certain sweetness that perfectly complemented the savory of the Riley’s rub. And no added salt was needed as the brine infused it throughout the meat and not just outside. I seriously could’ve entered that pork loin into a BBQ comp. It was that good!
- 1 pork loin
- 1 cup apple juice
- ⅛ cup table salt
- 2 tbsp garlic, minced
- 10 turns black pepper
- 10 turns white pepper
- 2 tbsp Riley's Salt Free All Purpose Seasoning
- Combine everything but the Riley's in a plastic bag, churn until the salt is dissolved and refrigerate 2-12 hours
- Remove from the brine, rinse with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel and place in a disposable aluminum pan
- Coat all over (including the ends) with Riley's Salt Free All Purpose Seasoning
- Set up the grill for two zone grilling with coals and smoke wood on one side and the pan with the Riley's Pork Loin on the other
- Target internal temperature of the grill is 300-325
- After 30 minutes, baste with the the juices from the bottom of the pan
- Baste every 10 minutes until the Riley's Pork Loin reaches 135-140 and then sear over the hot coals
- Allow to rest for 6-10 minutes depending on the size of the roast