7 Tips for Smoking Pork Butt Like a Pitmaster
- Use the best possible cut of pork butt
- Consider injecting your pork butt
- Choose your favorite seasoning
- Get the smoker temperature right
- Smoke your pork butt
- Let it Rest
- Sauce Selection is Key
- Use the best possible cut of pork butt: My biggest advice here, is to always look for the best grade of pork you can find within your budget. Try to select a Boston butt or Pork butt that hasn’t been frozen. Fresh is always better. Look for a pork butt with a nice balance of muscle fibers and fat throughout the cut. The best pork for pulled pork is a Bone in Boston Butt. The bone will help to hold the meat together. The bone also serves as a thermometer. The meat is done with the bone can easily slide out.
- Consider injecting your pork butt: Marinades and rubs will only impact the exterior of the meat. If you want to go deeper, you’ll need to consider injecting your pork butt using a meat injector and your favorite injection. This will potentially make your pulled pork even more tender. My favorite injection is Humphrey’s Pork Moist Maker. It has just the right amount of flavor to make your meat shine.
- Choose your favorite seasoning. It can be as simple as salt and pepper or choose a brand you can trust to take your pulled pork to the next level. There’s no need to get messy with coating your Boston butt with mustard or a binding agent that can change your flavor profile, let the meat do the work. Take your shoulder out of the fridge about 15 minutes before you are ready to set it on the grill. Rub it, then let the juices grab onto that rub. Touch it up with a little more rub right before setting it onto the smoker. This will great the perfect bark. Don’t over complicate this step with mixing all kinds of rubs together, select one that has been tried and test and roll with that. You do not want too many flavors covering up the flavor of your meat. #SapSucker
- Smoking temperature: This is very important. There are some pitmasters that will tell you HOT and FAST is best, but why rush it?
You’ll find the majority of recipes suggest cooking temperatures between 225F and 250F. Go for somewhere in the middle with 235F and dial things in from here.
Once you have your smoker started and all the vents wide open, wait until the temperature gets to within 75F of your target temperature and then start closing down the vents.
It’s time to get smoking!
- Smoke your pork butt: When the temperature has stabilized for 30 minutes or so without you needing to make further vent adjustments, it’s time to slide in your meat. By this stage, the smoke should no longer be thick and white, but instead blue and scarcely visible. Insert an internal temperature probe into your pork and wait until the internal temperature hits 160F. You can now remove your pork butt from the smoker. Wrap the cut of meat in two layers of aluminum foil and then return the butt to the smoker. (Sometimes I will add a little honey and maybe some bbq sauce) Track the internal temperature until it hits 195F – 205F.
Some all-purpose smoking tips:
- Using grill racks will make it easier for you to shift your pork butt around. Always spray the rack first with some cooking oil. This will prevent pork from sticking to the racks
- Always wear gloves and ensure your hands are clean so you minimize the chance of cross-contamination
- Use any decent smoking wood, although apple, cherry or maple always makes a wonderful combination with pulled pork
- If you notice any dry areas, use a spray bottle filled with some apple juice or grape juice and spritz your Boston butt to help the outer layer caramelize further
- Resting: We understand you are unlikely to own a commercial food warmer, so you can easily use a cooler with a lockable lid instead.
Grab any standard cooler and then use an old towel to line it. Take another old towel and wrap your pork butt – leave the foil on – and put it inside. Line with a third old towel and then pop the lid on your cooler.
PROFESSIONAL TIP: Steam out: when you remove your butt from the smoker you will need to open up the foil to allow the steam to escape. Not doing this, could potentially over cook your pork butt and turn it to mush! No one like mushy pork!
You should allow your pork butt to rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour when you’re cooking low and slow. Ideally – and if you have the time and the patience – allow your pork butt to rest for 2 hours. We can assure you it will be worth the wait.
Once the Boston butt has rested, you should transfer it to a tray. Take care not to spill any of those precious juices as you go. Decant all of the liquid onto the tray, too.
Now it’s time for the pulling part of the pulled pork. First, put on some food-safe gloves. Under these, wear some cotton gloves to protect your hands from feeling too hot or too cold.
I prefer to pull the meat by hand, but meat claws such as the Butta’h Fingers work great too. I like to have big strands instead of tiny shreds. I find that it holds the moisture better. Remember….NO MUSHY BUTTS!
- Now it’s time to Sauce. Choose a sauce that you like. I like Humphrey’s Awesome Sauce. It is an even blend of all the perfect ingredients, sweet and savory. When I am feeling sassy and want a little zip I reach for Humphrey’s Spicy Sauce. Just enough to keep the meat wet. Then I put the bottle on the table for my taste testers to put on how much they like.
And that’s all you need to smoke a Pitmaster approved Pulled Pork!0