Low-and-slow smoked meat is perfect for feeding a large group of hungry tailgaters. Pork butt (or Boston butt) is a well-marbled cut laced with flavorful fat and connective tissue that when smoked properly is wonderfully delicious. This cut of pork is flavorful enough that a good rub and the kiss of smoke, combined with the moisture provided by the internal fat and collagen, will make a fabulous crowd-pleasing meal. Here are some tips on how to make a smoked pork butt like a pro.
1. Trim the thick skin and excess fat from the meat, then rinse and pat dry. Slather the pork in yellow mustard to help the rub stick. Cover thoroughly with your favorite pork seasoning and let the meat sit for at least 30 minutes – although you can let it sit for up to 24 hours – so the salt and spices will penetrate the meat.
2. Use a good bed of coals for the heat source and some wood for flavor. Prepare smoker for a low and slow cook at 235°F. Cooking at this temperature keeps moisture inside the meat as it cooks and allows the fat to break down properly.
3. At 235° the pork cooks at about 1 hour per pound. The first half of the cook is when the smoke does its magic. The pores open and absorb the flavor from the wood source. Pork can take smoke flavor until the meat reaches 150-160°, so keep the lid closed and hold your fire. Pulled pork’s best friend is a good meat thermometer. Carefully watching the temperature can make all the difference.
4. The temperature rises steadily to 150° and then hovers there while moisture moves to the surface and evaporates. It may hold that temperature for up to five hours. Don’t crank up the heat or open the lid.
5. At the 5-hour mark the internal temp should be in the 160° range. Wrap in aluminum foil to keep the meat from getting too much smoke and to catch the moisture being released during the cooking process.
6. Continue cooking until an internal temperature of 195° is reached. Pull the butt off the smoker and let rest for 30 to 60 minutes in large pan or platter to catch the jus. After the rest period, remove the butt from the foil and pour off the jus and save to mix in the meat once it is pulled apart.
7. Maintain the most moisture by pulling the pork apart by hand with a pair of thick gloves. Once shredded, mix some of the jus back with the meat.