Grilled Rack of Pork
I love cooking meat as much as I do eating it. I particularly enjoy working with the occasional luxury cut of meat-whole beef tenderloin, a prime rib roast, or as in this case, a center cut rack of pork.
Most of the grocery stores in Las Vegas will be happy to custom cut a perfect roast on request (I love the butcher at my neighborhood Albertsons on the corner of Flamingo & Hualapai for this), but sometimes a great roast just calls out my name, like this center cut rack of pork I recently found at Costco. When sliced between each rib, the more familiar center cut rib chops are produced. When roasted whole, the result is one of the finest pork roasts ever.
This beauty weighed in at a little over 5 pounds and while the $21.00 price tag may seem like a major investment these days, it feed a two person household for 4 days in it’s various reincarnations, making the final cost about the same as chicken breast in our area. This roast was already “Frenched”. This means the rib bones were cleaned of any meat and sinew clinging to them. Most roasts of this type will already be Frenched by your butcher before you purchase it, but if not, it is easy to do yourself.
Since I planned to roast this outdoors I kept the seasoning simple, deciding to let a brief period of smoking with apple wood do most of the flavoring. The result was perfect. The meat was tender and juicy with just the right amount of outdoor smoke flavor. It was nothing short of succulent.
With the exception of an instant read meat thermometer, no special equipment or grill is needed to do this. My grill is a gas grill, but any BBQ with a lid will work just fine. The BBQ grill department in our DIY home supply store sells small bags or different wood chips for grilling. I think apple wood chips are perfect with pork, but any mild flavored fruit tree wood chips would be perfect. Hickory or mesquite produce a more powerful flavored smoke, if that’s more to your taste, go for it.
Since roasts vary in weight and thickness-and grills vary in heat-just use an instant read thermometer to take any guesswork out of the process.
Grilled Rack of Pork
1 Frenched rack of pork
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups soaked apple or cherry wood chips
Remove the roast from the refrigerator one hour before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature. Leave any excess fat on the roast. Pat the meat dry with paper towels and tie it with butcher’s twine in a few places as needed to help it hold it’s shape, cook evenly and make it easier to move around on the grill.
Make a seasoning paste by mashing the garlic together with the salt & pepper. Rub the paste all over the roast.
Place the soaked and drained wood chips on a piece of aluminum foil and wrap up to make a package. Poke a few air holes in it with the tip of a sharp knife.
Place the wood chip package on one side of the grill directly on the burner or flame. Preheat the grill according to the grill’s instructions.
Turn off one side of the grill and turn the other side to medium heat. Place the roast fat side down on the unlit side (or place the roast on the coolest area of your grill). Close the grill lid. Roast for 10 minutes and turn the roast over, grill for another 10 minutes, covered. Continue to rotate the roast every 5-10 minutes until the roast reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees.