Thursday, October 9, 2008

Smoked Pork Butt

Getting Up Early

That's 5:16 AM - as in *morning* - before it's even gotten light out. I NEVER get up before the sun, never even before 8:00 if I can help it. So, what could ever prompt me to rise so early - and willingly, no less?

None other than the siren call of a well seasoned pork butt just waiting to become barbecue on our trusty little smoker.

It all started one day earlier with a sweet, salty, peppery, savory, herby, chile-laden dry rub. We used the recipe mostly taken from Bruce Aidells' - we posted the recipe last year for the butt we cooked on our gas grill.

Spices for the Pork Butt Rub

After mixing the seasonings in a jar, we coated the meat with a generous dose of the rub and then wrapped the whole thing tightly in plastic. I actually used the entire jar since we were cooking a whole, 7.5 pound butt.

Rubbing the Pork Butt

The next morning, I unwrapped the butt and got it on the smoker at about a quarter to six. We were shooting for a 225°F cooker temp and a target internal temp of about 190-200°F. Last year's butt on the gas grill took about 9 hours. Since we could keep the smoker's temperature lower, I estimated a 12 hour cook time for this one.

Rubbed and Ready To Smoke

... 12 hours later it was at 183°F ... at 13 hours: 189°F. We called this done!

It's really hard to get a good picture of smoked pork butt just off the cooker. It always looks rather charred and black.

Smoked Pork Butt

But trust me, it's anything but burned - that "outside brown" part is fabulous. And check out that vibrant pink smoke ring:

Smoke Ring

We let the butt rest for almost an hour and by then we were ready to pull it apart and dig in. The meat was super easy to shred. All it needed was a few splashes of spiced up vinegar to give it a little twang.

Pulled Pork

Piled on a toasted bun, this was the best pulled pork sandwich we've ever made at home. While gas-grill barbecue was good, the consistent smoke you get with a real fire smoker allows all the flavors to really intensify.

Pulled Pork Sandwich

In addition to pulled pork sandwiches, we use the leftovers in all sorts of other ways - it makes a great filling for pulled pork tacos, as well as sopes. We've even gone a bit crazy and made mu shu pork butt. Oh, and it makes an awesome pulled pork pizza. These leftovers will definitely find good use.

Left-Over Pork Butt

Speaking of leftovers...

Lots of Leftovers

Maybe a 7.5 pound piece of meat for two people was just a little excessive? No way! A freezer full of barbecue is always a good thing.


  1. Darn, I just HAD to stumble across your blog. Now I will be tying up all my free time with making bacon and pork butt in my smoker. Geesh, I hope my girlfriend understands.
    Great site, I too have been bitten by the make-it-yourself bug and am enjoying every minute of it.

  2. Yep, it is a demanding hobby. A very rewarding one, though.

  3. What kind of fuel was used? How much attention was given to maintaining the temp?

  4. We generally use basic Kingsford charcoal as the primary heat source and then scatter in some smoke-wood. This time we used 3 Apple and 5 Hickory chunks (medium-sized). Using a version of the Minion method (mostly cold fuel, plus a few red hot), it's easy to keep the temperature fairly constant in a WSM cooker: first 2 hours ~250F, next 4 at ~220, then ~230-240 for about 7 hours (I keep a notebook!). We didn't really have to do any vent adjustments after the first two hours though.

  5. Your blog inspired me to get a new sidebox smoker this weekend and a couple boston butts. Got some apple and hickory in there right now with the minion method :) Even used your rub recipe. If I have success getting mine to taste half as good as yours look, I'll be a happy camper in about 12 hours.

  6. Toast - Congratulations on your new smoker set-up! It's been a while since we've done a pork butt and you're doing TWO - nice. I'm sure they turned out fantastic. :-)

    We did some chicken parts over the weekend, but it's not the same as pork - I feel the need to put something porky on the smoker now...

  7. Hi Sherry,

    Well, the result was incredible! Thanks so much for the inspiration. They came out wonderful and the rub was fantastic! The only thing I did differently was that I used some apple cider vinegar mixed with Jack Daniels as a mop/spray during the cooking process. And I used a local BBQ sauce that I doctor some. Honestly, the pork flavor was so good, it was in need of much sauce at all. Anyway, thanks for a great blog!

  8. Thanks for reporting back, Toast. I'm glad to hear the meat turned out so well! The vinegar-JD mop sounds like a great addition. I don't usually do a mop, but that one sounds tasty. Cheers!

  9. When I worked in the southern part of Mexico back in the late '70's I used to order smoked pork butt. I think it was called Chomorro or something close to that. Anybody know of that name? contact me at