kingsford charcoal brequettes in weber kettle grill

Rub that Butt!

I had an email about smoking a pork butt to make pulled pork.  Below is my basic approach to date:
First thing you need to realize is that you can’t do this on a gas grill. Just forget about it if that’s all you have. You need a large kettle grill, smoker, or smoke pit. I use a large Weber kettle grill today.

Fire is the second critical component (note my instructions here pertain to my environment).  With my kettle grill I build a fire using foundation of Kingsford briquettes. They will burn for a long time. Once the coals are lit, I separate the fire in two with a pile on each side of the kettle leaving the middle open.

I then add natural hardwood lump charcoal and dry hickory wood chunks and maintain with those two sources. The lump charcoal is sensitive to air flow and helps me to maintain a consistent temp not to mention adding hardwood smoke. Hickory wood provides the traditional smoke flavor and “ring” in the final product. Try to maintain the temp at 220.  In my kettle grill depending on outside temperature and wind, I do pretty good keeping the temp anywhere between 220 and 280.

I do use a remote meat thermometer to know where the meat is in cooking and it has been extremely useful. However look and feel are used to know when the pork is done. For instance I look for the meat to be pulling away from the bone and a wonderfully deep dark brown “bark” around the butt.  Sometimes when the butcher leaves the skin on the pork shoulder it can be a dark bronze color.

I forget what the experts say about how much time per pound. It normally will take me anywhere from 6 to 8 hours for an 8-9lb Boston butt. Pork picnics take 4-5 hours.

Aside from the hickory, I  believe that an 18-24 hour dry rub is the best way to go to impact flavor. There are tons of recipes for dry rubs out there. Try as many as you like.

My rub is evolving. I started with a base recipe from a smoking cookbook.  Now I use is a combination of paprika, black pepper, kosher salt, turbinado sugar, dry mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, and some cayenne pepper.

To mop or not to mop? That’s a subject for another blog. Right now I’m not moping. I keep a drip pan of liquid under the meat in the bottom of the kettle. That seems to be working fine in keeping everything moist. I vary the liquid depending on what I have on hand. It is usually a dark beer with an apple sliced up and peppercorns. I have used white wine and different fruit juices. I prefer the beer.

There you go… Happy butt rubbin’!

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