What does pork really love... salt, sugar, smoke. That's about it... well, at least it's the most important part of it. We've run the gammit of ingredients to layer over pork throughout the years in brines and marinades, but I keep coming back to the simplicity of these 3 major elements (a 4th could be considered water, since it is in the brine but isn't water in just about everything?).
I have found a simple pride in people's reactions after tasting pork coming off of my grill. Most of the time it is either the butt or spareribs (much better than baby backs IMO, and closer to the belly which makes them all the more loveable). In either case, the greatness of pork shines through. So much to the point in fact that I hardly almost never add anything further. My process, a simple brine of water, kosher salt, and brown sugar. I took quick comparative measurements for volume based on a 5% brine. For these I typically add half that amount in brown sugar, so about 2.5% there. This has come to be known as my 5-4-3 brine... 5 Cups water, 4 Tablespoons kosher salt, and 3 Tablespoons brown sugar. Sounds simple enough to do everyday, and it is.
The process, get your tap water running as hot as it will. Put 3 cups of that hot water into your mixing bowl. Add in the 4 Tbsp salt and 3 Tbsp sugar. Stir with a whisk until the solids are completely dissolved. Measure out 2 more cups of cold tap water mixed with ice cubes. Stir these in and whisk until the ice dissolves. The brine is now cool to lukewarm. It's basically ready to go. I am amazed at how fast and easy this is. Yes, I know that if a health inspector walked into your home, your brine would not be outside of the Temperature Danger Zone and you would be busted... but in reality just submerge your meat in it and refrigerate immediately and I can pretty much assure you everything will be fine barring some mutant circumstance that you would have probably been defenseless against anyway. And also, yes I know that by measuring ice displaced in your water your water volume will be slightly off due to the increased volume of water's crystal lattice when it freezes, but relax. It's science (sort of), not rocket science.
Typically, I let this brine go overnight (which is sort of like saying 24 hours in recipe-speak). Remove the meat from the brine and rinse thoroughly (if you do not rinse, the pellicle will be too salty). There is usually a drying period involved with brining, but honestly this can be bypassed. If you do have time though, lay the meat out on a tray after rinsing and patting with paper towels. Do not wrap it, and set it in your refrigerator until ready to grill. You can basically grill these in your usual manner (unless your usual manner sucks), just as long as you're blessing that pig with a sauna of smoke. Normally, I use mesquite or hickory chunks (or combination of) and keep a supply of smaller chips nearby to pump up the smoke when I need it. Keep a water pan down over the heat somewhere as well... wet smoke is far better than dry smoke. This is just to keep the humidity level in your grill where it should be. It's futile to get into a discussion on how to regulate the smoke or use wood since this would take a lot of time and probably start a whole mess of debates. The important thing is to try out some techniques and in the end, just do what works best for you.
Homemade Pancetta (from a Michael Ruhlman recipe)- almost perfectly balanced in saltiness and made even better by the kiss of smoke.
Bacon- It's what's for dinner. This was a simple cure brine for 2 weeks, followed by some light smoking. Not bad.
Smoked Chicken in Alabama-style White BBQ sauce (chickens love brine too)- Although I was apprehensive of this sauce at first, the concept of creamy bbq makes all of the sense in the world. Saveur recently featured it in their BBQ Issue, but we've just been using the Amazingribs.com recipe. To take this dish over the top, smoke the chicken then pull it into chunks then toss with the sauce then cook it again for a short time. The extra cooking dampens the acidity and somehow cooks the egg in the mayo making the flavor and texture completely addicting... I'm serious. I'm eating some right now. Sure the sauce is good without cooking it, but it's like crack when it's cooked.