German smoked pork, "Kasseler", is a salt-cured pork loin or pork chop which is smoked with beechwood or alder. Germans use "Kasseler" as a tasty addition to kale and cabbage recipes or bake it like American ham. Most people buy "Kasseler" ready to cook, but it is difficult to find in the US. The smoke imparts much of the flavor in the meat — Germans most often use alder, while the U.S. cuisine calls for maple or hickory smoke.
This recipe, calls for a 48 hour, wet cure followed by a hot smoke of just a couple of hours, resulting in fully cooked meat.
- 1 gallon/4 liters water
- 350 grams salt (kosher)
- 225 grams sugar
- 42 grams salt (pink)
- 1 handful sage leaves (fresh or dried)
- 1 teaspoons thyme (dried)
- 1 tablespoon juniper berries
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- Optional: garlic cloves
- 1 pork loin (without back ribs, 4 to 5 pounds)
Stir together the ingredients for the brine and heat to a simmer to dissolve all the salt and sugar. Refrigerate until completely cold.
Prepare the loin by removing all but a thin layer of fat. We recommend a loin, not a rib roast (back ribs attached — common in commercial "Kasseler") for home processing.
Place the loin in the brine and weight it down with a plate or other object to keep it submerged.
Refrigerate for 48 hours.
Remove the loin from the brine. Discard brine.
Wash off the pork with cold water and pat dry. You may dry it in the refrigerator for up to a day (do not cover with any wrap).
Prepare your smoker: Start your charcoal fire in the bottom of the smoker an hour before you want to smoke the meat.
Soak 2 cups (or so) wood chips (preferably alder for this project) in some water.
Place your smoking tray (or aluminum foil tray) on top of the charcoal and add 1/2 cup wet wood chips. Place the grill about a foot above that.
Place the meat on the grill, cover and smoke 2 to 3 hours, until the internal temperature is 150 F or above. Add more wet chips as needed to keep the smoke up.
You may choose to roast the brined meat instead, or if you are having trouble with the smoker just bring it inside and finish the cooking process in the oven. Heat the oven to 450 F and cook the meat for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 250 F and roast the meat for 2 to 3 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 150 F.
Eat warm or cut and wrap. Refrigerate to 4 days or freeze for 2 to 3 months.
Curing Meat Warning
Curing meat requires specific expertise and failure to cure meat properly may result in sickness or death. If you have no experience in this area, we advise you to consult an expert to teach you proper techniques and applications.
Great Resources on Curing Meat
Since curing meat requires such a specific skill set, otherwise, it can lead to illness or worse, we highly recommend consulting with an expert to teach you proper techniques. We found that the following four publications are super helpful guides and go in-depth about just such processes, procedures, and techniques:
- Charcuterie: The Art of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn
- Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages by Stanley Marianski
- The River Cottage Smoking & Curing Handbook by Steven Lamb
- USDA’s Processing Procedures: Dried Meats