Time to break out the rotisserie and do some live fire spit-roasting! There are so many ways to use this style of cooking – from simple whole chickens and large roasts to one of my favorites, pork knuckles (or ham hocks as they’re sometimes known).
It’s best to purchase pork knuckles as fresh as possible, and try to buy them not previously frozen, the freezing process can sometimes affect how it roasts on the grill. The larger the better on the pork knuckles because of the time needed to render the skin to a crackling brown color and you don’t want to overcook the meat doing so.
Brushing with a flavorful beer will add some dark, rich flavors to the meat, so reach for something you know will be full of flavor and be generous with the basting – it’s going to a good cause, I assure you! So let’s break out the rotisserie and do some authentic grilling!
Serves: 2-3 people Prep Time: 20 minutes (overnight to soak in salt water) Cook Time: 3 to 3 ½ hours
1 cup kosher salt
1 gallon of room temperature water
4 pork knuckles (ham hocks) about 1 ½ - 2 pounds each
½ cup neutral flavored oil (canola, corn, grapeseed, etc)
2 Tbsp white pepper, ground
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 quart dark German beer (your favorite)
3-4 cups hickory wood chips (soaked for 30 minutes)
Dissolve the first kosher salt in the room temperature water in a large food safe bucket or container (it needs to be big enough to hold all the pork knuckles and the water).
Trim up any loose bits on the knuckles and place in the salty water. Cover and refrigerate overnight (about 12 hours.)
The next day, remove the knuckles from the water and pat dry with paper towels. Oil and season the knuckles all over, rubbing the spice in.
Slide each knuckle on the spit and set them in place with the roasting forks on either end (this will prevent them from spinning on the spit while it rotates). Put the spit on the grill and turn on the motor. Make sure to watch one full rotation with the lid open – this is to make sure the pork rotates properly and isn’t hitting anything or spinning freely. It is crucial to test this out before you preheat the grill. Remove the spit from the grill. **Make sure to wipe off both of the ends of the spit, this will keep food from getting inside the rotisserie motor. **
Now set up the grill for rotisserie/smoke grilling.
For gas: Remove the grill grates and place the foil pan beneath the rotisserie spit (this will catch the drippings and protect the burners beneath from drippings). Turn the outside burners to medium and close the lid. Preheat to about 325F, as close as you can, for best results. If you have an infrared burner, set this to low.
For charcoal: set up the charcoal for indirect by putting it on two sides, with the foil pan in the middle. Set up the rotisserie ring and close the lid. Try to get the temperature as close as possible to 325F.
Arrange the wood chips in the smoke box, or on the charcoal, and wait for smoke to appear.
7. Once smoke has started, set the rotisserie spit on the grill and turn it on.
8. Close the lid and roast for 45 minutes at 325F (if you want a strong smoke flavor, add 2 additional cups of wood chips after 25 minutes).
9. After 45 minutes, you should see color beginning to start on the knuckles and the skin shrink up a little – towards the smaller end.
10. Baste the knuckles generously with the beer and close the lid. Turn the heat down as close as possible to 275F. Cook for another 30 minutes.
11. After 30 minutes, baste the knuckles with the beer generously and cook another 30 minutes. Repeat one more time.
12. At this point, the knuckles have been on the grill for about 2 hours and 15 minutes. The skin should be getting crispy and a nice, brown color should be forming. If the meat is soft and doesn’t have much color, turn the heat up slightly. If too much color, reduce the heat by 25F.
13. Cook for another hour, basting every 30 minutes with the beer.
14. At the 3-hour mark, stop the rotisserie and take the temperature from the thickest part. It should be close to 190F. Check the temperature after that every 15 minutes.
15. When the pork reaches 200F, it is cooked and ready.
16. Remove the spit from the grill (use insulated gloves!) and remove each pork knuckle from the spit onto a serving platter.
17. Cover and let rest for 20-30% of the cooktime.