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Smoked Rack of Pork

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Looking for a mouthwatering and budget-friendly alternative to beef prime rib? Look no further than this smoked rack of pork! 

pork-rib-roast-featured-image

Rack of pork (also known as pork prime rib or pork rib roast) is an underutilized cut of meat that has so much to offer. When smoked to perfection, this roast is tender, juicy, and super flavorful. 

For this recipe, we start with a wet brine, apply a delicious honey BBQ rub, and then take it to the smoker. Trust us; this combination produces a mouthwatering rack of pork fit for Christmas dinner and special occasions! 

What is a rack of pork?

Similar to a rack of lamb, a rack of pork is made up of the pork loin section with the rib bones still attached. This impressive roast, weighing in at 4-6 pounds, is half the price of a beef prime rib and a great candidate for the grill, smoker, or oven. Most of us are familiar with the pork crown roast, a rack of pork tied in a circular shape. This roast is the no-frills version. Please note that before cooking a pork rib roast, the bone section must be trimmed or frenched.  

Selecting the best rack of pork

When selecting a rack of pork, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you choose the best one. Look for a rack of pork with a layer of fat covering the loin portion. The roast itself should have a uniform shape and thickness throughout. Additionally, make sure that the rib bones are relatively straight and “frenched.” Ask your butcher to do this, or if needed, you can complete this step yourself. You can source most of these pork roasts through your local grocery store, local butcher, or various online meat purveyors.

Should you brine a rack of pork?

While using a brine is not required, it is recommended. Brining helps to plump up the meat and increases moisture and juiciness. We recommend using our maple brine or apple cider brine for best results. Both recipes infuse the meat with a little sweet and savory flavor that works beautifully with pork. 

Smoked rack of pork tips

  • Let the brine cool completely before using. It should be cold! Add ice as needed. Brine for 8-12 hours.
  • Trim your pork rib roast! Nothing blocks out smoke and flavor like a thick layer of fat over the meat. If your butcher hasn’t already done it, trim down the large fat cap on the top of your roast. Cut away the fat from the bones, and remove the membrane on the back if desired.
  • Score the remaining fat layer for crisping and presentation.
  • Season the meat on all sides.
  • Have a disposable aluminum drip pan ready.
  • Use a temperature probe or a reliable instant-read thermometer nearby! They will be your best friend when grilling and smoking meats.

Ingredients

Best woods for rack of pork

Pork responds to mild or moderate smoke flavor. For that reason, we recommend using fruitwoods like apple, peach, or cherry. However, pecan works wonders. Avoid using robust woods like hickory and mesquite.

Brining

  • Prepare brine according to recipe and brine rack of pork for 8-12 hours.
  • Remove the roast from the brine and blot dry with paper towels.
  • Season roast evenly and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Grill set up

  • Charcoal or gas unit: Set up for indirect cooking (two-zone cooking). Most of the cooking will take place over indirect heat. Toward the end, the roast will be seared over direct heat. Set a disposable aluminum drip pan below the grates under the rack of pork.
  • Pellet grill:  Plan on a 1 1/2-2 hour cook time. Prepare your pellet grill for 375 degrees F. If there is room, add a pan underneath the grate to catch the drippings.

Cooking a rack of pork

  • Once your grill or smoker has come up to temp, place the roast bone side down on the grates. Insert a temperature probe (if using one), close the lid, and cook for roughly 60 minutes.
  • After that time, check on the roast and look for possible drying on the surface. Spritz with room-temperature apple juice, close the lid, and continue cooking until the internal temp of the pork reaches 145 degrees F.
  • Move roast over direct heat and sear for 3-5 minutes, using tongs to move it around.
  • If you are using a pellet grill, remove the roast and set aside. Increase the heat to 500 degrees F. Place the roast back in your grill or smoker and sear for 3-5 minutes. Use tongs to turn the roast around as needed.

Serving and Storing

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  • Once seared, remove the roast from the grill or smoker and place it on a clean cutting board. 
  • Top with 3 pats of butter, and loosely tent with aluminum foil. Allow the meat to rest for 15-20 minutes before carving. The butter will melt and add a deliciously creamy, buttery flavor to your perfectly smoked rack of pork.
  • Turn the roast on its side with the bones facing upward. Using a sharp knife, slice between the bones into individual pork chops. Serve with your favorite sides.
  • Store leftover pork roast in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Freeze for up to 2 months.

Using leftovers

Use leftover rack of pork in your favorite breakfast hash, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, stews, soups, and more. You can also sear them in a skillet and serve with eggs or reheated leftover side dishes.

Best sides for smoked rack of pork

pork-rib-roast-featured-image

Smoked Rack of Pork

Rack of pork (also known as pork prime rib or pork rib roast) is an underutilized cut of meat that has so much to offer. When smoked to perfection, this roast is tender, juicy, and super flavorful.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American BBQ, American Food
Keyword: pork prime rib, rack of pork, smoked rack of pork
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 10 servings
Calories: 450kcal

Equipment

  • 1 9 x 9 Aluminum pan

Ingredients

  • 1 10-12 bone rack of pork
  • Maple Brine or Apple Cider Brine
  • 1/3 cup Honey BBQ rub made without salt
  • 1/4 cup apple juice or apple cider for spritzing
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter for resting optional

Instructions

  • Prepare brine according to recipe and brine rack of pork for 8-12 hours.
  • Remove the roast from the brine and blot dry with paper towels.
  • Season roast evenly and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Charcoal or gas unit: Set up for indirect cooking (two-zone cooking). Use apple, cherry, or pecan wood. Set a disposable aluminum drip pan below the grates under the rack of pork.
  • Pellet grill: Prepare your pellet grill for 375 degrees F. Use pecan, apple, or cherry wood pellets. If there is room, add a pan underneath the grates to catch the drippings.
  • Once your grill or smoker has come up to temp, place the roast bone side down on the grates. Insert a temperature probe (if using one), close the lid, and cook for roughly 60 minutes.
  • After that time, check on the roast and look for possible drying on the surface. Spritz with room-temperature apple juice, close the lid, and continue cooking until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145 degrees F.
  • Move roast over direct heat and sear for 3-5 minutes, using tongs to move it around.
  • If you are using a pellet grill, remove the roast and set aside. Increase the heat to 500 degrees F. Place the roast back in your grill or smoker and sear for 3-5 minutes. Use tongs to turn the roast around as needed.
  • Once seared, remove the roast from the grill or smoker and place it on a clean cutting board.
  • Top with 3 pats of butter, and loosely tent with aluminum foil. Allow the meat to rest for 15-20 minutes before carving. The butter will melt and add a deliciously creamy, buttery flavor to your perfectly smoked rack of pork.
  • Turn the roast on its side with the bones facing upward. Carve between the bones into single chops. Serve with your favorite sides.
  • Store leftover pork roast in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Freeze for up to 2 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 450kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 69g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 39g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 120mg | Sodium: 150mg | Potassium: 91mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 32IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 201mg | Iron: 16mg

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