Recipes - Pork Butt

How to smoke your own Pork Butt, step by step.

I don't claim to be a pro, but I had to share my passion for pork.
I used to do bay back ribs all the time, but they just kept getting more and more expensive, and went on sale less and less. So July 2008, I tried my first butt. WOW!!!

The meat is inexpensive (most of the time), and when it goes on sale, I've found it as low as $.99 a pound, but it usually varies from $1.49 - $3, depending on where you shop and sales. Most of it's Smithfield anyways, so I usually find the best price at Walmart. I've also tried the picnic cut, but it's not quite the same. So, let me get on to how I prepare mine.

First, marinate your butt. I usually make mine up as I go and feel free to add whatever makes you happy. But, you must use an acid - this helps tenderize the meat.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (cup or so) for acid
  • Orange juice (cup or so) for more acid and some sweetness
  • Mustard (yellow works fine) for flavor (3 tbsp or so). Note - some people use mustard seed instead/too
  • Garlic - prefer several cloves, but powder (tbsp) works fine for this step (or use both!)
  • Onion powder (tbsp)
  • Paprika (tbsp)
  • Brown sugar (tbsp)
  • Little salt and pepper
Mix it all together in a large ziplock, puncture your butt with a meat thermometer or similar to let the marinade in and let it soak overnight for best results.

Before you start cooking your butt, rub your butt (preferably night before). Make your own or get some from the store and "enhance" it if you like. I use Stubb's BBQ rub and add garlic powder, onion powder, brown sugar and salt. Rub it down and seal it in a large mixing bowl or a cooking pan with some plastic wrap and put back in frig.
I smoke it for about 5-6 hours. My smoker only runs about 170-180, which really isn't enough to cook it done enough. After that, I put in the convection oven for the rest of the afternoon at 225. I would say x hours will do the trick, but size matters and if there is a bone or not. I have found that getting it to an internal temp of 185-190, then cooking for another hour works out real well. It cooks off most of the fat and breaks down the tendons and stuff. You'll notice the difference when you put the thermometer in.

Don't just go by temp though, go by tenderness - it should go in without any resistance when it's done. Start checking when the temp reaches 185, then check about every half hour to hour. It's all by feel. When it's done right, if you have a bone in butt, it'll pull right out. It'll be effortless to "pull" it.
After 3 hours, the rubb starts to darken...
After 6 hours, the smoke has set in...
For the smoke part, I prefer hickory. I get a good supply from my family in North Carolina.

Once you take it off the smoker, wrap it in some heavy duty foil (with the seam at the top). This helps it stew in it's own juices.

Now comes the hard part - take it out and let it rest for at least an 1/2 hour. The smell will drive you nuts. Cover it with foil and set a timer if you must. Once it's rested, pull it, don't slice or chop. Something about the texture when you take 2 forks and start pulling. Whatever you do, do NOT use BBQ sauce, at least at first. Enjoy the pure, rubbed, smoked flavor before dousing it if you must.