From America's Test Kitchen
Getting good smoke flavor and a charred crust is an elusive grilling goal. Smokiness generally requires a lengthy exposure to a slow fire, while a charred crust requires a blast of high heat to quickly sear the exterior of the meat before the interior turns dry and leathery. We wanted chops that had it all: charred crust, rosy-pink, ultra-moist meat, and true smoke flavor throughout.
We decided to employ a technique we had perfected for Pan-Seared Thick-Cut Pork Chops: reversing the cooking by starting low and finishing with a quick sear. To reap the benefits of both high and low heat, we used a double-banked fire (made by placing an disposable aluminum pan between two mounds of coals) and started our chops under cover on the cooler center of the grill, allowing the smoke to do its job for about 25 minutes. We then applied a few coats of sauce and finished by searing them, uncovered, over hot coals.
As for arranging the chops on the grill, we found it best to rest each chop on its bone instead of laying it flat. To keep them from toppling over, we speared the chops together with skewers, making sure to leave a good inch between each one to allow smoke to circulate, then stood them upright in the center of the grill with bone, not meat, touching the grill. This allowed us to keep the chops over the fire for a full 30 minutes, after which we removed the skewers, applied the glaze, and finished the chops over hot coals for that crusty char.
Buy chops of the same thickness so they will cook uniformly. We prefer the flavor of natural pork, but enhanced pork (injected with a solution of water, salt, and sodium phosphate to prevent the meat from drying out) can also be used, but don’t sprinkle with salt in step 3. Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the onions. Although we prefer hickory wood chips, any variety of chip will work, except mesquite.