Pork comes from pigs and it is red meat that is high in protein, minerals, vitamins, and amino acid that is good for your overall health. Some pork, like the tenderloins, sirloin roast, and loin chops are full of nutrients and are healthier than chicken. Most people like to use the leg of pork because it does not dry out as fast as other pieces. The process of smoking a leg of pork will allow for the collagen to break down giving you a tender and sweet meat.
Cooking the tougher bottom cuts like the pork leg, and shoulder can be made tender by slowly cooking on low heat, in a smoker or on a grill. As you are cooking the leg of pork throughout the day, you will notice the fat burning away. This helps to keep the meat moist.
You will learn how to make a dry rub, a marinade, and a spicy brine recipe to flavor your leg of pork. The recipe for cooking your meat is a step-by-step recipe to make it easier for you to follow. You can cook your leg of pork on a grill, in the oven or in a smoker.
This spicy dry rub is sure to be a hit. It brings out all the flavors of your pork.
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of Kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons of smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoons of coarse black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin
- 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
- 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Store in an airtight container like a mason jar. This rub will keep for up to a full year if sealed real tight and kept in the refrigerator.
Herb Marinade for Pork
There are many different kinds of marinating recipes and this herb one seems to be a favorite for many families.
- 1 lemon, zest grated
- 3/4 cup of fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Mix all of the ingredients together. Cover your pork completely. Keep refrigerated and let marinade for at least 3 hours. It would taste better if you could leave the pork leg in the marinade overnight.
Spicy Brine Recipe
Brining works almost the same as a good marinade. The difference is, brining will go deeper into the pork. If you do your brine the night before and refrigerate the mixture, it will give all the ingredients time to stick to the salt. The salt will then carry all the wonderful flavors deep down into the layers of the meat.
- 4 cups of hot water
- 1/2 cup sea salt, (no Iodine)
- 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
- 2 teaspoons of cloves
- 5 Bay leaves, (dried)
- 4 cups of ice cold water
Bring the 4 cups of water to a boil. Use a stainless-steel pan. Add in the sea salt and stir until the salt dissolves. Add in the cloves, bay leaves, and peppercorns.
Once everything has come to a boil for a couple of minutes, you can put a lid on the pan and turn off the stove. Let the mixture cool down slowly. It should cool down all night to give all the different flavors a chance to blend. The color of the brine will change from a light tan to a rich dark brown overnight.
After the mixture is cooled down, pour the brine into a very large pan and add the 4 cups of ice-cold water. You can now add in your pork leg or shoulder.
Smoking a Whole Roast Leg of Pork
The leg and shoulder of pork are also called the Butt and is used to create ham dishes. In America, many people like to brine a leg of pork before smoking the meat. Smoking a whole leg of pork will feed a lot of people. The roast can be smoked so it can be sliced up nicely for dinners or sandwiches.
Using a pork brine recipe will add lots of flavors to a smoked pork shoulder recipe or a leg of pork before smoking. It takes longer to prepare, but it comes out tasty. The leg of pork would have to sit in the brine mixture for about 16 hours before smoking. The more the pork sits in the brine, the greater the flavor you will have throughout your meat.
Your family and guests will enjoy a smoked leg of pork or a smoked pork shoulder recipe that is cooked slowly on the grill. If the whole roast is cooked a little longer it can be pulled apart with two forks for shredded pork.
Preparing Your Smoked Pork Leg
Make sure you rinse your leg of pork under running water. Take some paper towels and dry it thoroughly.
The morning you are going to smoke your leg of pork, take it out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. With a 14-pound leg of pork, it should take a good hour to come to room temperature.
You will need to remove any extra skin or fat from the pork before putting the pork leg in the brine. Use a stainless-steel pan for your pork with the brine. It will not react to any of the ingredients of your brine. Keep your pork leg in the brine for about 16 hours. Then pour out the brine liquid and put the pork leg back in the refrigerator.
Before you put your leg of pork on the grill, you will want to pat it dry with a paper towel. Use the remaining spices that you have from brining and put them in the drip pan on the grill right below the meat.
In order to keep the meat from charring on the outside, you will want to keep the temperature inside the grill within the limits. This is why you need to buy a thermometer. You will want to check the temperature from time to time.
On the day you are smoking your pork leg, take it out of the refrigerator about an hour or so before you want it to go on the grill. You will want to bring it down to room temperature.
Preparing your grill for indirect grilling and hot smoking is easy. In the bottom of your grill, place two good sized wood pieces of oak, and dump the hot briquettes on top of the wood. For some more flavoring, you could add some red wine and water to your drip pan.
To keep your smoked pork leg from drying out, place a stainless-steel pan full of water on top of the fire to act as a vaporizer. This will keep the gases in the Barbecue moist and decrease the drying out of the skin on your leg of pork. You might need to also make a baffle out of folded aluminum foil and place it the length of the fire. Now it is time to let your grill heat up to the right temperature. It will take about ten or fifteen minutes for the temperature to rise enough to put the leg of pork on the grill.
With the temperature about 45F, you can put the leg of pork on the grill and the spices from the brine in the drip pan underneath. You will want to close the vent holes to about ½ and make sure your thermometer is on the top inside of your barbecue. The temperature will quickly rise to 296F.
When you open the lid, you will see that your smoked pork leg is turning a nice brown. It will look like it has shrunk a little and it might even look a little rounder. You might need to add more charcoal briquettes on top of the hot ones in the grill. Check your vaporizer and make sure it still has plenty of water in it, and cover the thinner part of your smoked pork leg with some foil so it does not burn or overcook. Close the lid and let it cook.
When the temperature is at 264F, open the lid. The smoked pork leg should look golden brown and the skin should be retracting by now. Add more charcoal briquettes and another chunk of oak smoke wood. Place the wood on top of the hot briquettes. Add water to the drip pan, and to the vaporizer bowl. Clean the fire by shaking and taking out the ashes underneath. It is easier to control a clean fire for your pork leg. Make sure you turn your smoked pork leg and put the skin side up. Cover loosely with foil.
Shut the lid and open the vent holes fully. When the temperature reaches 271F, the temperature of the inside of the fat part of the pork leg should now be 172F. The cooking time is about 10 hours. Your smoked pork leg can now be taken off the grill and put on a cutting board. You should cover it with foil and let rest inside the house for about an hour. This will give the juices inside a chance to settle down and re-distribute.
- When adding water to your drip pan, use lukewarm, not cold water.
- If it is cold outside, you could add an umbrella over the grill to help keep the grill at the proper temperature.
- Always check the thickest part of the meat when checking the temperature.
- You can use the spices from your brine in the drip pan, but never save it for another piece of pork.