Smoked Wild Hog Tender Loin
I can remember walking out to the garage as a kid. The back door would be open, and smoke would be rolling out into the fresh Michigan air. Sitting just inside the open door was an unusual sight: a 6-foot-tall black locker, like those found at the gym, and the source of the smoke.
My mother was southern, and my dad was a hunter and fisherman. He loved to cook, so I come by my love for food honestly. That locker that seemed as though it was on fire was re-engineered into a smoker, and I remember my dad smoking all sorts of goodies in that thing—everything from trout to pig.
I didn’t gain an appreciation for smoked meat until I was older and my dad bought me a smoker of my own for Christmas. Not only did I begin to appreciate the art of smoking, but I fell in love with it.
I love to share what I smoke with family and friends, and I want to share how I do it with anyone who may be intimidated by using a smoker or think it’s too much work. There is always prep work, and unless you have an electric smoker, you need to keep a watchful eye on temperature—but trust me the end result is worth the effort!
This recipe is for wild hog loin, but I realize that is not available to everyone. If you are using a loin bought in the store, just make sure it’s a whole loin and has a nice layer of fat on one side. It is a two-part recipe that includes a brine. I like to get the loin in the brine the day I am cooking it, and brine it until it’s time to smoke it; this is usually for a minimum of 4 hours. Some recommend not to brine a loin too long, but I have let it brine overnight and had no issues with flavor.
- Wild Hog Loin minimum 4 pounds
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- Meat thermometer
- 4 cups warm water
- 1 cup honey
- 4 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoon pepper
- Dijon mustard
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup onion powder
- ¼ cup garlic powder
- ¼ cup paprika
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon pepper
- Mix honey in to warm water until dissolved.
- Add remaining ingredients
- Place loin into brine. Be sure that it is submerged completely. If it is not, mix another batch of brine and add to existing brine.
- Cover. You do not need to refrigerate if you are cooking that day. If you are not, place the brine and loin in the refrigerator. Brine 4 - 24 hours.
Rub and Cooking
- Place the 2 cups of water and ½ cup apple cider vinegar in to the smoker’s water tray.
- Preheat smoker to 225 degrees
- Mix brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside.
- Remove loin from brine and pat dry with paper towel.
- Rub Dijon mustard over entire hog tenderloin.
- Once loin is completely covered in Dijon, rub dry rub over the entire loin.
- Place loin in smoker fat side up.
- Add wood chips - see "Wood Chips" at bottom of recipe.
- Smoke for approximately 1 hour per pound keeping a constant 225-degree temperature.
- Add wood chips every hour / hour and a half. You will know when to add wood by the amount of smoke coming out of the smoker. If you don’t see smoke, it is time to add wood. There should be a constant smoke coming from smoker.
- Check internal temperature when there is approximately 1 hour left of cook time. Once the temperature hits 140 degrees, it will increase rapidly; keep a close eye on it.
Example: I have a 4-pound loin. I have let it cook for 3 hours and at hour 3 I will check the temperature. I know that it will be done in close to 4 hours (1 hour per pound). The temperature is 145 degrees. I will continue to check it every 15 minutes until it reaches 160 degrees.
- Once the internal temperature is 160 degrees, remove the loin from the smoker.
- Let it rest! I know it is so hard to not cut right into it but it needs to rest at least 5 minutes.
I use a mixture of half hickory and half mesquite. I find the hickory alone is a little overpowering for a lean cut of meat like a tenderloin.
Soak your wood chips in warm water; I usually put them in the water at the same time I brine my loin so that they can soak up a lot of water. This will insure a nice smoke and keep them from burning.