Now that you’ve turned your grill (gas or charcoal) into a smoker to cook a beer can chicken and a fatty, it’s time to move to a bigger piece of meat and cook a pork (Boston) butt. A butt is a fattier piece of meat and is therefore very forgiving, so it’s a good piece of meat for the beginning BBQer.
There are many debates on cooking a butt – cooking temperature, fat up or down, wrap in foil or not, in a pan or not and I believe the competitors win with all of them, so I’ll just describe what I would do on the grill as a first timer. Since you probably don’t want to spend too many hours on it, I’d suggest a 6-7# butt. Start the evening before by trimming the fat cap to about ¼” or you’ll just have to deal with all the melted fat. Before you go to bed, give it a good coat of a rub, that’s not too heavy in salt. I used to make my own rub but now for pork I use a 3 to 1 mix of Billy Bones Original and XXX Cherry. There are many fine rubs out there, but I think Bad Byrons Butt Rub is pretty readily available and it’s a good choice. After rubbing, wrap in plastic and stick in the fridge over night.
When you get up, remove from the fridge and let it begin to warm up – some folks add more rub at this point but I do not. The cooking time and temperature I’m allowing is to be sure it’s done for dinner. Set your grill up for smoking as I discussed on June 20. I like to cook the butts in a foil pan as it ensures I collect the juices and it keeps the cooker cleaner. Check out June 30 for what mine looks like in a pan. I’d allow ten hours at 250* and feel confident it will be done and then it can be kept in a cooler until you’re ready to pull it.
Use a remote probe thermometer to monitor the internal meat temperature and when it gets to 165*, dump the juices from the foil pan into a bowl (after the rub is set and the bark begins to look dry, about 3 hours, each time the smoker is open and the meat exposed, I like to spritz with apple juice). Cover the pan with well sealed aluminum foil and cook to about 190*, then remove the foil, dump the juices again and cook uncovered (to redevelop the bark) until the bone is loose and the thermometer probe slips in with nearly no resistance (like going into a room temperature stick of butter) – it will be around 200* at this point, but go by the probe and bone test rather than the temp. Not covering in foil will make it cook slower, but develop more bark, so it’s a choice you make. For the first try, I’d cover it, as it’s faster and a little more forgiving.
At this point the meat is done and if it’s mealtime pull it and enjoy. If not, just pour off the juice again, give it an apple juice spritz, seal the pan top or wrap the butt in foil and place in a pre warmed (use hot water) cooler until ready to pull - depending on the meat temperature you can use your hands or two forks to pull it - I like to use bear claws. Before pulling, put all of the collected juice in a de-fatter and after pulling pour all of the juices (not the fat) into the meat and mix well. You will now have some great pulled pork BBQ and your butt will yield about 50% meat (6# butt = 3# of meat), and each pound will make three large sandwiches.
Check out this for how your final product will look.
After you’ve had this first success, you can experiment around with the cooking temps, pans, foils, injection, etc, to achieve the pork you want. Since I collect and return all of the natural juices to the pulled meat, I don’t bother with injecting, but I believe most of the competitors do.
Let me know if you try it and have a great day. Title pic is morning serenity at the dock.