Smoked Loin of Pork – There’s the Rub…

I have a theory about so many of the highly flavoured and sugar laden ‘rubs’ that are used to enhance pork on the grill. I think that the reason they exist is to try to bring a bit of life to otherwise insipid and uninteresting meat. Some of you may spring to argue with this assertion. You might say “If you ever tasted my Uncle Jessey’s ten chilli rub, you would know how flavour can punch you in the gullet.” or “Sue Ellen does a mean brown sugar, corn syrup and honey wet rub.” I don’t deny that either of these probably have some value to add (Lord help us!). My issue is with the unfortunate meat that so many rubs serve to aggrandise. I’m not trying to cause any friction with my rubbing. I’m just making the case here for high quality meat, a balance of rub flavour and some gentle smoking.

While I’m at it, I’ll give you a delicious simple recipe for a Plum and Ginger Sauce to accompany this Smoked Loin of Pork. My rub is pretty straightforward. I think I have a good balance of ingredients – Not too hot, not too sweet. It needs to be so as to avoid overpowering the meat or the gentle flavour added by the peach wood (Thank you Teddy) used to smoke.

A beautiful loin of free range pork. Note the layer of fat. That’s a good thing.


  • 1 loin of pork about 2 kilo
  • 2 teaspoons of soft brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic flakes
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of hot chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of English mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon of onion salt


Combine the rub ingredients in a bowl  and stir to mix.

I love a decent pouring shot. this one was the best I could do.

Skin the joint and slash through the fat but not through the meat. This is to allow the rub flavour permeate the meat.

Keep the skin for making crackling.

Rub the joint all over with the delicious, well balanced rub.

The ‘rub’ is usually interpreted as a bad thing. That is the rub…

Leave the rub to permeate the meat for a few hours. While that is going on, we have time to make a delicious plum and ginger sauce.


  • Half a kilo of plums (unripe is OK)
  • 5cm piece of ginger root
  • Sugar to taste

Place the plums in a saucepan along with the sugar. Slice (roughly) the ginger and add it too. Add a splash of water.

Three ingredients! This is hardly a recipe.

Place this on the heat and cook until the plums have reduced to a mush. The ginger flavour will have added itself to the sauce at this stage.

It’s hard to not eat it straight out of the pot.

The sauce is really delicious (belying the simple nature and short ingredients list). When the plums are completely mush, take the saucepan off the heat and let the mixture cool enough for you to pass it through a sieve.

Place the pork on the barbecue. Note my use of a smoker box to get a gentle peach wood smoke going. It’s important to keep the lid shut and only open it to take the occasional photograph. This loin was cooked in an hour and three quarters.

Long, slow cooking on the grill makes for delicious flavours.

The meat had a lovely gentle smokey flavour and a nice slightly spicy edge. Literally the edge as the rub made that lovely crust.

Smoked pork loin

The sugar helps the rub turn a deep brown/black colour. Not burned, believe me!

We served it with the sauce and some salad, wrapped in tortillas.

Note my fancy sauce boat. The plum sauce is worthy of such treatment.

I can’t over-emphasise how delicious it was. My rub may not be the hottest, most powerful, cough inducing rub there is. But, I’m not trying to disguise badly reared, poor quality pork. For many, that really is the rub.

In short, the lesson is get great quality ingredients and you won’t have to disguise them with too much flavour. Instead, you can have fun enhancing the flavours and balancing them with some other simple and delicious ingredients. Bon App…

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Latest comments
  • Beautiful smoky crust and snow white meat? Yes, please! 🙂 I can see myriad uses for that lovely plum sauce as well.

  • I think that sauce is going to find a home in my recipe book, I can see it working well over ice cream, together with a bit of shortbread crumb… The pork’s beautiful, clearly still lovely and tender and that very alluring blackened crust – yum!

      • It’s the sign of a versatile sauce, I’d say. Savoury one day, sweet the next. And if I were close enough to be looking through the window, I’d be knocking on the door come dinner time!

  • That’s a fine looking piece of meat! How well I remember the ’80s and ’90s and being stuck with horrible grocery store pork that was always a chewy piece of something that didn’t taste like anything. Thank goodness we can get wonderful pork now. Oh, and that sauce! (Sadly, good plums are hard to come by here.)

  • Well you got me on this one Conor! I have no English mustard powder, and I have no plums. 😉 Beautiful piece of meat, and nice sauce! And looky the size of that tortilla!!

  • You are so right about the quality of meat and how bad meat is often disguised with hefty rubs and sauces. The sugar in those rubs or marinades also causes the outside to burn too easily. I noticed the probe — to what temperature did you cook the pork? I think plum sauce is a great accompaniment to smoked meat. I love short ingredient lists, although the plum sauce could be enhanced with a subtle hint of spices to make it more complex (star anise, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, orange zest).

  • PS like your thinking of sieving the sauce instead of having to remove those stones.

  • That pork looks perfect!

  • That sauce sounds delicious. And the meat looks pretty good too, even if it is pork 😉

  • I have to agree about rubs making up for the insipid taste of so much pork, especially the loin. But is it me, or did pork have a lot more flavor back in the day?

  • Conor, I agree with you on all points! It’s a gorgeous meal and a gorgeous piece of meat. We have to pay an arm and a leg for a shoulder like that here, even though I live in the Midwest (grew up in a small farm town) and am surrounded by farmland. Buying a quarter or a side is the way to go, if possible. Being the humble frugal hausfrau I’m often in a position of “jazzing” up a cheaper grocery cut of shoulder (or other meat) to try to make up for the lack – but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to sit at your table for a night, or maybe every night, lol!

    While all your photos are gorgeous, the one of the plums in the saucepan gave me a little pang!

      • 🙂 It’s been a dream of mine to visit Ireland for a long time – especially to see where my great, great grandparents came from. 🙂 We literally can walk to where a small farm raises sheep, and see cattle and goats being raised about five minutes from here; it’s our distribution system in the states that is so wrong…unless you search out and make arrangements with a farmer and/or butcher (and have a lot of bank to pay for it all) everything goes by train or truck to large centers and feedlots…it IS slowly changing, though. This happened right by my folk’s house and is such a cute story.

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