If you’re like us, you like to smoke more meat than you think you’ll need. Because it takes so long to get the results you want, it’s better to have too much than too little. Fortunately, leftovers are one of the best aspects of a successful barbecue. Here are our suggestions on the best ways to handle your leftover smoked pork loin.
Leftover Smoked Pork Loin
The best way to preserve leftover pork loin is to leave a portion of it whole, then reheat it before carving it into slices. If it’s already sliced, it will reheat more quickly, but it may also become too dry. To prevent this, add a bit of liquid, along with oil or butter, to the pork before you reheat it.
About Smoked Pork Loin
Pork loin might be a lean cut, but that’s no reason to keep it out of the smoker. The meat will benefit from the wood-kissed flavor, and it will cook more quickly than its fattier and tougher counterparts.
To make smoked pork loin, whip up your favorite pork marinade. A blend of apple juice, brown sugar, honey, oregano, cumin, and cayenne pepper should work well. If you’re pressed for time, you can rely on a store-bought marinade, but try to stay away from bold flavors like teriyaki that will interfere with the smoke flavor.
For best results, score both sides of the pork loin in a crosshatch pattern. This will help the marinade penetrate more of the surface area. Make each slash about 1/4 inch deep. You can use these marks as guidelines when it’s time to carve the meat.
Marinate the pork for at least 4 hours, refrigerated. You can leave it in the marinade overnight, but don’t go overboard or the meat might get mushy. In any case, try to flip it over about halfway through the marinating period.
If you don’t want to use a marinade, go for a spice rub instead. You can use whatever ingredients you usually reach for when making pulled pork, or use a store-bought blend.
Set the smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and add the pork. Cook for about 40-50 minutes per pound, which translates to 2-2.5 hours for a 3-pound roast.
Pork loin is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t worry if the meat is still pink in the middle—it’s perfectly safe to eat at this temperature, and a light blush of pink means the meat will be nice and juicy.
How Much Smoked Pork Loin To Serve Per Person
The general rule of thumb is to provide 1/2 of raw meat per person. When you account for shrinkage, this should give each guest 1/4 pound of smoked pork loin to enjoy.
That said, we don’t feel that this is enough, particularly if you’re hoping for leftovers. People with heartier appetites can easily consume twice this much. If the gathering takes place in the evening, or if many people are drinking, you’ll go through more product than you might expect.
Try to buy one pound of raw pork loin per person, and round up whenever possible. That should give you enough to satisfy even the hungriest guests and still have plenty of opportunities for leftovers.
What To Do With Leftover Smoked Pork Loin
One of the reasons why we suggest sticking to simpler rubs and marinades is because this provides a great template for your leftover smoked pork loin. If you’ve smothered the meat in barbecue sauce or honey mustard, you’ll be limiting your options.
Here are just a few of our suggestions on transforming leftovers into meals that are impressive show-stoppers in their own right.
- Tuck thin slices between whole wheat or anadama bread, along with mayo or aioli, sliced beefsteak tomato, lettuce, and thinly sliced red onion.
- Slather a round of pizza dough with barbecue sauce and top with shredded mozzarella, minced scallions, and leftover pork, either sliced or diced into small cubes.
- Use chopped leftover pork as a savory filling for stuffed shells with marinara sauce.
- Cube the meat and use it as a filling for omelets or frittatas.
- Layer pork slices with thinly sliced apples and sweet onions, then top with cheddar cheese sauce and bread crumbs. Finish in the oven for a tasty and unusual casserole.
For more ideas on how to revitalize dry smoked pork, see What To Do With Dry Pork Loin Leftovers, below.
How Do You Reheat Smoked Pork Loin?
In The Oven
If you’re planning on saving a lot of the pork for leftovers, don’t carve the entire loin before serving. Set a portion aside whole. This will make it easier to reheat without drying it out. You can always carve off more if you need it.
To reheat a large piece of pork loin, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Set the pork in a shallow baking dish. Add a small amount of water or chicken broth. If you have leftover cooking juices from the pork, by all means use those instead.
Brush the pork with oil or melted butter. Cover with foil and heat for about 30 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the center registers 135 degrees. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before carving it into slices. If you try to slice it too soon, it might fall apart.
You can use a similar method for reheating sliced pork loin. Layer the slices in a baking dish and cover with the liquid of your choice before covering the dish with foil. It probably won’t take as long for the slices to reheat, so check them after 15-20 minutes. If there’s visible steam rising from the pork, it’s ready to eat.
On The Stovetop
The oven method is our preferred technique, but you can reheat pork slices on the stovetop as well. Melt a teaspoon or two of butter in a saucepan, or heat the same amount of olive oil over medium heat. Set the slices in the pan and add liquid, then heat gently, turning the meat once or twice. The pork should be ready in 4-5 minutes.
In The Microwave
The microwave is another possibility. We would consider this a last resort, as it tends to dry out and toughen the meat. If you have no choice, add the pork, along with oil or butter and the liquid of your choice, to a microwave-safe dish. Heat 10 seconds for every ounce of pork. For example, if you’re heating 6 ounces, set the timer for 1 minute.
How Do You Moisten Leftover Pork Loin?
The best way to introduce moisture to leftover meat is to add some of the cooking liquid before reheating. A bit of oil or butter also works wonders.
If you don’t have any of the juices left over, substitute water or chicken broth instead. Beef broth is another possibility, but don’t use too much, as the flavor can be overpowering.
How Long Is Leftover Pork Loin Good For?
Try to consume any leftovers within 3 to 4 days. You can prolong their shelf life by storing them in the coldest portion of the fridge, but even so, it’s best to toss leftover pork after 4 days. Of course, if it shows any signs of spoilage, discard it right away.
If you aren’t confident that you can finish the leftovers within this time frame, put them in the freezer instead. Stored this way, they’ll keep indefinitely, but are best consumed within 6 months to a year.
What To Do With Dry Pork Loin Leftovers
Sometimes, the pork loin will be a bit too dry, even when you first serve it. If this is the case, reheating it won’t do it many favors.
However, there are steps you can take to revitalize the dry meat. Reheating it in the oven or stovetop, as outlined above, should yield decent results. Some other options include:
- Cutting the pork into cubes and using it as the base for a soup, stew, or chili
- Tucking the diced or cubed meat into a pasta sauce or casserole
- Make a gravy with leftover cooking juices or chicken broth, then use it to make open-faced pork sandwiches on toasted bread
The Bottom Line
Smoked pork loin is a spectacular main course, but why stop there? With so many tempting recipes to choose from, you might want to cook off two or three times as much pork as you’ll need. If you don’t eat it all within a couple of days, you can always freeze it and relive the glory in a month or two.