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Iowa Chops: Curried and Smoked

If you don’t know what Iowa chops are, you’re missing something in your life. If you do know but haven’t had them smoked and curried, still missing out!

What is An Iowa Chop?

Before moving to Iowa, I had never heard of an “Iowa chop” and they’re fairly popular in West Central Iowa, where I live. A good Iowa chop is a real treat but more accessible than some other great cuts of meat.

An Iowa chop is the pork version of the beef T-bone or Porterhouse steak. They’re a center cut and must be between 1 1/4″ and 1 1/2″ thick. If you can get one from a specially-raised hog, they’re just unbelievable!

For today’s task, we used the on-sale Iowa chop from the grocery store.


We have used a variety of smokers, over the years. Most recently, we’re using a Pit Boss wood pellet smoker. You feed wood pellets into it and just add more when it gets low. Changing out wood chips isn’t as easy as some other smokers but it’s more a matter of not putting a lot in if you thin you want a change and maybe scooping a last few out instead of just waiting for the pile to be finished.

Using the right wood for the task is important. Different flavors work better together than others. If we were making a dessert, we’d use different woods than with meats, more or less.

Today’s choice was apple wood chips and they were a great combination.

The Rub – More About Curry

We rubbed our Iowa chops with Atlantic Spice Company’s curry powder and a little salt (this is the pound size that we buy but it does usually come in smaller sizes). For four chops, about three tablespoons of curry powder and about half a teaspoon of salt.

To make this into a paste, we mixed it with a little olive oil, just enough to bind it together. While we used extra virgin olive oil, it was the cheap kind. Any olive oil would have been fine. Even a neutral oil would have worked. The curry was the dominant flavor, by far.

Always check your spice blends. However, many commercial curry powders come without salt. Curry is very flavorful. With that, though, a little salt helps the flavors.

Curry is actually a varied blend of different other spices. You can make your own. Some companies sell multiple different curry powders. That’s why we tell you which brand we used. Unlike some other spice blends, curry could wildly vary from brand-to-brand, both in actual ingredients and amounts.

A different example is Italian spice blend. Here is the Penzey’s version but if you check against other brands, will find them to all be fairly similar or identical in ingredients.


Smoking these chops with the salted curry stunk up the entire neighborhood, but in good way (except for those people who weren’t going to get to eat this!).

Once in a while, we make something really good that we like a lot. This wasn’t it. This wasn’t something we merely “liked a lot.” This was so exceptional, both tender and flavorful, from the smoke combined with the curry, that we had to tell someone. That someone is you, the reader!

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