A Pork butt is actually a section of meat that comes from a pig’s shoulder! It is called pork ‘butt’ mainly because of how it looks: it’s thicker (no pun intended) and cut from the more ‘blunt’ section of the shoulder. It may or may not contain the shoulder blade bone, but more often, the bone is absent.
Putting all the innuendos aside, it is a favorite among barbecue and grill enthusiasts, because of its intense amount of marbling – high fat content and strong flavors. It can also adjust well with sauce or other kinds of flavors. So, if you are one of those meat-loving barbecuers wanting to try something different with pork, then read on to how the barbecue can be done in two simple mouth-watering methods.
Keep Calm and Smoke Butt!
If you want your smoked pork butt to reach perfection, then this method is a must-try.
- Take a piece of pork butt weighing around 8 lbs. Inject some brine into the pork butt into every 2 inches. Allow the pork butt to soak up the marinade at least for a few hours and then dust the meat with dry rub.
- To make brine, combine 1 cup of apple juice, ½ cup water, 1 tbsp salt, 1 tbsp granulated sugar and 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce or hot sauce. Once the sugar and salt dissolve, place the brine into a syringe. Brine is injected so that when the meat is heated the liquid would try to escape and thus add moisture and flavor to all parts of the meat.
- To make the barbecue marinade, add ½ cup chopped onions, ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce, ¼ cup water, 3 tbsp chopped garlic and 2 tbsp soy sauce to a blender to puree. Keep the mixture in an airtight container for later use.
- To make dry rub, mix, ½ dark brown sugar, ½ cup paprika, 1 tbsp black pepper, ¼ kosher salt, ¼ cup chili powder, ½ tsp ginger grounded, ¼ cup dry mustard and 2 tbsp crab boil seasoning. Store the mixture inside a sealed container until needed. The dry rub is added to keep the flavors inside. You can add mustard glaze around the meat for the dry rub to properly stick to the meat.
- To make cider mop, combine 1 cup apple juice, ¼ cup cider vinegar and 1 cup water in a bowl and keep it refrigerated until needed.
- To make the barbecue sauce, heat 2 tbsp canola oil. Then cook ½ cup 1-inch size rectangle shaped bacon in this oil, until it turns brown. Reduce the heat, then add ½ cup minced onion, 5 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder and 2 tsp black pepper. Stir constantly and cook for 5 min. Add ½ cup brown sugar and add ½ cup water and allow the mixture to simmer. Add 1 cup tomato ketchup, ¼ cup yellow mustard, ½ cup honey, ½ cup apricot preserves and ¼ cup apple juice and allow further simmering for 20 min. Remove the pan from heat then season with cider vinegar. Puree the mixture with a blender and allow it to cool.
- Take a charcoal grill that you can preheat to around 225 degrees F. Add charcoal to one side and ½ cup pre-soaked wood chips, with 1 cup water in a drip pan on the opposite side. Once the brine injection, dusting rub and and marinade covering is done, place the meat over the grill, directly on top of the drip pan and start cooking. When temperature drops, add more charcoal and wood chips and water whenever necessary.
- After 6 hours have passed, use a spray bottle to spray cider mop on to the meat every half hour. Place a thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. If temperature is around 195 degrees F, the cooking is done. Transfer the meat to a platter and serve with potato wedges and barbecue sauce.
Sounds delicious right? If you think this is not your style, you can also grill pork butt on a gas grill with slow cooking and low smoke. The next recipe will show you how to do that. Time to impress your family and friends!
If Smoking Is Not Your Thing…
If you do not have enough materials needed to smoke a pork butt or if you do not want to smoke your pork butt, then this is your go-to method.
- Take a 7-8 lbs pork butt section. First step is to create a dry rub, comprising of 2 tbsp salt, 2 tbsp black pepper and 2 tbsp garlic powder. Mix well and carefully rub it around the meat. You can then cover the meat in a zipper bag or wrap it with plastic and refrigerate for around 2 days. You can also inject brine into every inch of the meat if you want. The brine would consist of ½ cup water, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp salt and 1 tbsp hot sauce. You can also cover the meat with marinade but since pork butts already contain unique flavors along with the rub, it is not totally necessary.
- A basting brush can be used to evenly coat the grill rack of a gas grill with vegetable oil. Then set the gas grill to medium heat, at a temperature of about 225 to 250 degrees F. This temperature should be constant.
- Place the pork butt on to the grill rack and flip and turn it every half an hour so that all parts of the meat are equally cooked. Continue the cooking for 6 hours until the meat is tender and the bone can be removed.
- Remove the pork butt from the grill and cover the meat with aluminium foil. Allow the meat to settle in the juices for at least 10 minutes.
- Serve the meat with barbecue sauce and potato wedges, or coleslaw. This recipe would serve around 8 people. You can also create pulled pork from this meat using two forks and separating the bones.
Miscellaneous Pork Butt Grilling Tips
Both these recipes are excellent ways to grill and cook pork butt meat. There are definitely many different ways to cook. Many people feel comfortable to bake pork butt in an oven or roast it, instead of grilling. We’ve compiled a list of general tips for cooking pork butts that might help you with other recipes.
- Maintaining the temperature of the cooking time period is extremely important. It should be somewhere between 220 degrees F and 250 degrees F. If you are smoke grilling then the temperature should be at a higher range. Always check the temperature of the meat, especially the inner parts with a thermometer and ensure it reaches around 200 degrees. That is when you know that the cooking is almost done. Ensure that the thermometer does not touch the blade bone if present, or else it would display a false reading.
- Brine injection is a smart idea if you want to add moisture and extra flavor to the pork butt fast. However if you do not have syringes, a low and slow cooking would do just that and break down the fats properly.
- The final meat can be trimmed for a better, smoother appearance but that is also a waste of delicious juicy meat.
- Allow the rub to sit on the meat for at least 30 min, so that it can settle properly onto the meat. The rub should preferably be made the day before and refrigerated overnight. If the rub is good and properly added to the meat the barbecue sauce is not needed either.
- Wrapping the pork butt in aluminium foil is also a good idea because it allows to retain moisture. Often people cook the meat wrapped in foil during the last hour. This cooking period does not require further charcoal or wood or smoke. It can be done on the remaining fire or in an oven, then finish cooking.
- After removing foil you might encounter meat juices on the foil, also called jus. Save the ‘jus’ as it can be used with barbecue sauce while serving.
- Wood chips used in grilling can be from hickory, apple, fruitwood or oak trees. These chips can be soaked overnight. The soaking allows the wood to burn for a longer amount of time and hence create more smoke. Keeping a drip tray of water underneath the meat helps to prevent the meat from getting too dry.
- Always ensure to bring the pork butt to room temperature before barbecue, if it was kept refrigerated.
Pork butt is usually served with buns, coleslaws or in sandwiches, or it is sometimes shredded into pulled pork which is also a sumptuous treat. Even if you do not get the taste right the first time, with practice you can confidently develop your backyard grilling skills and show them off to your loved ones in picnics, your backyard and camping spots. Pork butt is a delicacy loved by many people, so if you think these recipes will help you, then get, set, go grilling!