Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Barbecue 101: Five Tips for Smoking a Perfect Pork Butt

This week I'd like to come back to pork butt, the Boston Butt cut of the pork shoulder. I haven't talked about pulled pork lately on the blog, ironic because it is true barbecue, or considered the first barbecue. My post on Smoke Ring on Your Pork Butt is also the most visited of my blog, so I know it is what people searching for barbecue topics are most interested in. This week I give you my top five tips on smoking the perfect pork butt.

Five Tips for Smoking a Perfect Pork Butt

1) Rub Generously. Give a good coating of spice rub and pat rather than rub. This will help the pork form a tasty bark, or crust, that will add flavor and seal in the juices as it cooks.

2) Get your smoke on early, but back it off at the end. I like to hit the pork with wood smoke for the first three hours if using a charcoal smoker. If you are using an electric smoker, then keep the wood smoke going for about 5-6 hours. What wood you use will add subtle differences. Fruit woods are always a good bet with pork.

3) Get in and get out. Do your fussin' all at the same time so that you keep your lid on as much as possible. In other words, when you add already hot coals to the fire, also mop quickly (I like to use a spray bottle to quickly coat my pork with a mixture of half apple juice and half apple cider vinegar).

4) Use a remote thermometer. A remote thermometer can monitor the inside temperature of you smoker. Toward the end of the cooking time, I insert the remote thermometer into the meat. For a butt to be done, but not over done, shoot for 180 degrees. Then give the finger test, my tip #5.

5) You don't want your pork to be a contender. A good, non-technical way to tell if your butt is good and tender is the finger method. Push a finger just a bit into your pork. If the pork "fights back" like a bouncy ball, it's not done. If it seems like your finger will push on through the bark, then it's ready.

And here is the Bonus Tip. Let the meat rest before you pull it. I like at least 20 minutes before I put on my gloves and pull. Sprinkle it with some Lexington Sauce, or your favorite barbecue sauce and dig in.


  1. All excellent tips! Number 3 is a big one when doing low 'n' slow - no peeking. You lose a lot of heat and moisture everytime you stick your nose in there.

  2. Thanks, Dave. I'm a big fan of #3 as well. Let the heat and the meat do the work!

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  8. I love these tips, they are so helpful. I bought my husband a smoker for his birthday because he has always wanted one. The problem is, we have no idea how to smoke meat! I am definitely going to have to try tip number three. http://www.cookingfirewood.com/

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