Why this recipe works:
For a grill-smoked pork chop recipe that had it all—charred crust, rosy-pink, ultra-moist meat, and true smoke flavor throughout—we reversed the cooking process by starting low and finishing with a quick sear. Bone-in chops were the best bet for our grill-smoked pork chop recipe, because bones add flavor, and their connective tissue and fat boost meat tenderness as they dissolve on the grill.
NOTE: Buy chops of the same thickness so they will cook uniformly. We prefer the flavor of natural pork, but enhanced pork (injected with a solution of water, salt, and sodium phosphate to prevent the meat from drying out) can also be used, but don’t sprinkle with salt in step 3. Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the onions. Although we prefer hickory wood chips, any variety of chip will work, except mesquite.
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup molasses, light or mild
2 tablespoons grated onion (see note)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups wood chips, soaked in water at least 30 minutes (see note)
4 bone-in rib loin pork chops (12 ounces each), 1 1/2 inches thick (see note)
4 teaspoons kosher salt or 2 teaspoons table salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
Disposable 13- by 9-inch aluminum cake pan
1. FOR THE SAUCE: Bring all ingredients to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce reaches ketchuplike consistency and is reduced to about 1 cup, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer ½ cup sauce to small bowl and set aside to serve with cooked chops.
2. FOR THE CHOPS: Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal (6 quarts, about 100 briquettes) and allow to burn until coals are fully ignited and partially covered with thin layer of ash, about 20 minutes. Place aluminum cake pan in center of grill. Empty coals into grill, creating equal-sized piles on each side of pan. Sprinkle 1 cup soaked wood chips on each charcoal pile, position cooking grate over coals, cover grill, and heat until grate is hot and chips are smoking, about 5 minutes. Scrape grate clean with grill brush.
3. While grill is heating, pat chops dry with paper towels. Using sharp knife, cut 2 slits about 1 inch apart through outer layer of fat and connective tissue to prevent buckling. Sprinkle entire surface of each chop with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Place chops side by side, facing in same direction, on cutting board with curved rib bone facing down. Pass 2 skewers through loin muscle of each chop, close to bone, about 1 inch from each end. Once chops have been threaded onto skewers, pull apart to create 1-inch space between each.
4. Place skewered chops, bone-side down, in center of grill on cooking grate, over aluminum pan. Cover grill and cook until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork chop, but away from any bone, registers 120 degrees, 28 to 32 minutes.
5. Remove skewers from chops; tip chops onto flat side and brush surface with 1 tablespoon sauce. Transfer chops, sauce-side down, to hotter part of grill and cook, uncovered, until browned, 4 to 7 minutes per side. Brush top of each chop with 1 tablespoon sauce; flip and continue to cook on second side until browned and instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork chop, but away from any bone, registers 140 to 145 degrees, 2 to 4 minutes longer. Remove chops from grill and allow to rest, tented with foil, 5 minutes. Serve, passing ½ cup reserved sauce separately.