Smoking Hot Butts

Hope you like the catchy title, but we’re talking about pork butts here, so get your mind out of the gutter.  Anyway, I was cooking up some pork butts for a little party we had last weekend.  Just for fun I decided to check my blog for any old pork butt recipes and realized I had not updated my recipe in a very long time. So today I’m going to update my BBQ Pork Butt recipe and share all of my tips and tricks for smoking butts that I’ve discovered over the past few years through diligent research.  See, I do all the hard work so you don’t have to!

Smoking a Pork Butt on the BGE

A great pork butt starts with good meat. I like to use a bone-in butt, they taste better and are easier to cook than the boneless cut.  Boneless butts do not stay together in smoker unless you tie them up with butcher twine, they are like a big meat blob on the grate.  The bone also serves as part of the doneness test, if you can pull it out, it’s done. I also prefer the packer butts, there’s two in each pack.  Why cook one when you can cook two?

Brine or Injection?  For a long time I was brining my pork butts in a solution of apple juice, salt, sugar, vinegar and molasses.  Although the brine added a lot of moisture to the meat, it just didn’t impart as much flavor as I wanted.  I have since converted to injecting, it’s faster, imparts more flavor and keeps the meat moist during cooking. 

Pork Butt Injection

Injecting through the cryo packaging

2 Qt of Apple Juice
1/4 Cup Molasses
1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

Mix all the ingredients together in a large pitcher or bowl and set aside a cup of the liquid for spritzing down the butts during cooking.

I like to inject the pork butts while still in the packaging, just push the needle through the plastic into the meat.  Injecting while still in the packaging will minimize the rogue squirts from flying all over the kitchen.  I inject about a quart of the injection liquid into each butt in random spots all around the butt.

Once the pork has been injected, I remove it from the packaging and pat it dry with a few paper towels. Before I put down the rub, I trim off some of the excess fat if it’s really thick, but for the most part I leave the fat cap on, sometimes I will score it to help it cook down faster.  I then give the butts a coating of canola oil so the rub will stick, yellow mustard works really well, too.

Pork Butts rubbed and read for the smoker

For the rub, I mix equal parts of my Red Chile BBQ Rub and turbinado sugar.  If you don’t have any turbinado sugar, brown sugar will work just as well.  I really like the sweet and spicy contrast and the sugar helps form the bark around the pork.  I give the pork butts a good coating, then rub and all sides and let them sit while I prep the smoker.

I fill my Big Green Egg with mesquite charcoal and light it.  After the charcoal is lit, I drop in the plate setter and drip pan.  On my last cook I fill the drip pan with half water and half apple juice just to try to infuse more flavor into the pork. I close the lid and let the smoker get up to 275º – 300º.  Once its up to temp, I place the pork butts on the grate and let them get to cooking.  At 300º the butts will take about 75 minutes per pound to cook. A 7lb butt will take about 8 1/2 to 9 hours to cook. The only way to ruin a pork butt is to undercook it, so be sure you cook it completely or it will not pull apart. 
During the cook, use a spray bottle filled with the injection solution and spritz the butts down at least once an hour.

Drip pan full of water and apple juice

When the butts reach an internal temp of 195º they are done.  You can also check the doneness by pulling on the bone, if it’s loose and pulls out easily, it’s done.  Pull the butts off the smoker and let them rest for 20-30 minutes.  To pull the pork apart I have pair of insulated gloves that I use.  You can also use two forks or invest in some claws if you like.  If the pork is cooked right it won’t take much effort to pull it apart. Undercooked pork will not pull apart.

Two Pork Butts All Done!

Wrap or not to wrap?  I have waffled on the wrapping for a long time.  I have finally decided, not to wrap.  I just keep my drip pan full of water and let the pork cook.  I know that wouldn’t fly in a competition but this is my backyard, not KCBS.

I like small buns so I can eat one of each!

After all that hard work it’s time to eat!  I like my pulled pork on a bun with some sauce and dill pickles.  It’s even better when the Mrs. makes homemade buns. It may look simple but there is a lot of flavors in that pork.  I can taste the apple juice and molasses from the injection, the bark has a nice spicy sweetness from the rub, turbinado sugar and the apple molasses spritz, and finally there is the mesquite smoke.  I have experimented with other woods and charcoals, but I always come back to mesquite.  For me it adds the flavor of New Mexico. So that’s my pork butt recipe as it stand now, in two years I’ll probably have a new one.

I hope you all find my updated BBQ’ed Pork Butt recipe helpful. If you have any questions or comments feel free to email me or leave a comment below.  I’m always happy to help.  Have a “GRATE” summer!!

4 thoughts on “Smoking Hot Butts

  1. Yea, there's the school of thought that the fat cap UP bastes the meat and help keep it moist.
    With all the injection juice, that point is moot.

    BTW, I know what I want for Father's Day now – a stainless steel injector – just like yours!

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