How to be a winner when cooking a pork butt Thursday, July 16, 2015
Smoking Hot Butts.
Pork butts (also known as a Boston Butt) are a must cook for anyone wanting to impress their friends or neighbors with their cooking abilities. It is probably the simplest, nearly foolproof cooks. Great for weekend entertainment or at your tailgating parties.
I recommend starting with a 6 to 8 pound raw butt. For your dinner planning, the cooked meat yield is about 50% and 1# of cooked meat will serve about 4 people. So a 6# butt will yield 3# of cooked meat and serve 12 people. Keep in mind, the bigger the butt, the longer it will take to cook. I prefer bone-in butts over boneless, as I think the bone helps the flavor and the moisture content.
Smoking any meat requires planning. Smoking a pork butt at a smoker temperature of 250 deg F can take around 10 hours. So if you want to have pulled pork for dinner, you need to start the night before for the best results.
It is best to rub the raw meat and let it set overnight to absorb the flavors. Injection is not necessary unless you are seeking an edge in a BBQ competition.
There are lots of great commercial rubs available at your favorite grocer. One of my personal favorites is Bad Byron’s Butt Rub, but there are many others that may appeal to you. If you still feel industrious, here is a simple but tasty rub recipe with the basic ingredients. This makes about 1 cup.
• 4 TBSP of fresh ground black pepper
• 6 TBSP of paprika
• 4 tsp of onion powder
• 4 tsp of garlic powder
• 2 tsp of dried oregano
• 3 TBSP of kosher salt
• 2 tsp of chipotle powder
• 1 tsp of cayenne
Getting your Butt ready
The night before, rinse the meat and pat dry. Trim off any hard spots of fat, excess fat off sides and tops. Also check for loose bone fragments and remove them if necessary. I like to leave the fat cap intact unless it is thicker than ¼”. Coat the butt with regular yellow table mustard. I only do this to help the rub adhere to the raw meat. Be liberal in applying the rub and work it into all the nooks and crannies. Place in plastic bag or in aluminum covered with plastic wrap. Store in refrigerator overnight.
Smoking your Butt
Pre-heat your smoker or indirect area of your grill to 250⁰. If you have some wood chunks, add a few as soon as it heats up to get the smoke streaming out of your smoker. While the smoker is warming up, get your meat ready to go. I am giving you a couple of ways and either will work. Option 1 is directly on the rack and works well to get a great bark (crust), but may require a little grill cleanup after the cook.
Option 2 is in a pan, you still get the bark on the top and sides, plus the benefit of easy cleanup.
Option 1 –
1. Place the meat, fat cap down, on the grate. Close the lid and let the magic happen.
2. In about 4 hours, take a quick peek. Remember, if you’re looking, you ain’t cooking. Spritz the butt with spray butter (like “I can’t Believe it’s not Butter”). This will help keep the bark from drying out and getting too hard.
3. Tear off two sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil, long enough to wrap the butt.
4. In 2 hours, the bark should be well formed. Carefully remove the butt and place it meat side up in the middle of the foil. Use a large spatula and good tongs or heat resistant gloves to avoid burning your hands or worse, dropping the butt.
5. Pour a couple of ounces of apple juice in the foil and tightly wrap the butt, keeping the seam high so the liquid won’t leak out of the foil pouch.
6. Check back in 1 hour, and use a digital thermometer to probe the butt in a couple of places for a temperature reading (Don’t take the reading against the bone). Your target temperature is between 195⁰-200⁰. Remove the butt when it is in the temperature range and the probe goes easily in the meat. It can take 1-3 hours for the foiled butt to get up to this temperature. Don’t check the temperature any more frequently than every ½ hour, remember the longer you take the meat away from the heat, the longer it is going to take to finish.
7. When the butt is done, remove it from the smoker, slightly open the foil and let it vent for 5 minutes. This is to stop the cooking process. Now close up the foil, wrap the foiled butt in a towel and place it in a cooler. Let it rest for at least an hour, allowing time for it to absorb some of the pork juice that has rendered out. The meat will stay hot and moist for a couple of hours.
8. You can shred, pull, slice or chop the butt. When you do this, remove any fat that has not rendered out. You don’t want your fans to find a piece of chewy fat in the tasty morsel of pork you have prepared.
9. You can add your favorite BBQ sauce or try some natural pork flavors. I prefer to use the pork juice at the bottom of the foil. Here is how I do that – Keep the liquid that you have in the foil, pouring into a grease separator. Let the renderings separate a couple of minutes and pour the pork au jus. This is a mixture of the pork liquid and apple juice for a little sweet taste. This liquid is great to add to your shredded pork and can even be used to keep your leftover pork moist.
10. Sit back, enjoy and listen to the rave reviews of your friends and family.Option 2- If you like to keep the grates a little cleaner, place the butt in an aluminum pan. I suggest that if you use a pan, that you add about 4 ounces of apple juice to the pan. Follow the same directions as Option 1, but at step 5, cover the entire pan with aluminum foil. Everything else is the same.