This is a love story…a labor of love story. One of my favorite things to indulge in is any variety of slow cooked pork, whether it be a pulled pork, carnitas, chile verde, etc. The pork itself is super moist and flavorful, but it also marrys so well with everything…cabbage or coleslaw, pickled onion or jalapeno, salsas, bbq sauce, etc, etc, and can be eaten alone, in a salad, on a sandwich, whatever. So, whenever I can tackle a nice pork butt or shoulder, I love to jump right in, but I really love to do it on the smoker as it imparts some great smoky flavor and gives me a really nice bark on the exterior.
The challenge here however is TIME…this is not a fast process, you need up to 14 hours to make this work, hence the labor of love. If that ain’t you, there are many other ways of tackling it…crock pot, pressure cooker, etc. and they are equally moist and tender, but you will be missing the smoky, barky element as well as the piece I rather enjoy which is the old school feeling of it…I use a tiny 14″ Weber Smokey Mountain smoker and love the element of striking a balance between coals, hickory, water, etc all to make it work…labor of love it is! Amazingly, you can fit 2 giant butts on this thing (almost 20lbs) and because of it’s small size, it really surrounds everything in smoke…not a lot of room for anything else.
Anyhow, here are 3 recipes I have used and love them all, although I am now bought in to the injection method ahead of time and really love the peach variation below from Big Bob Gibson:
First and foremost, 1 6-to-8lb bone in pork butt
- 1 tbspn dark brown sugar
- 1 tbspn sugar
- 1 tbspn paprika
- 2 1/4 tspn salt
- 1 tspn garlic salt
- 1 tspn black pepper
- 3/4 tspn chili powder
- 1/4 tspn celery salt
- 1/4 tspn ground cumin
- 1/4 tspn cayenne pepper
- 3/4 cup peach juice (This calls for draining a can of peach juice, but I found nothing but peaches in syrup, etc, so I used a bottle of peach nectar I found and it was devine!)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbspn salt
- 1 tbspn worcestershire sauce
First and foremost, I trimmed the pork butt of most of the fat on the top…many argue it you are removing the best part that will drip down through the pork butt as it cooks, but I still leave a thin layer and the pork butt itself has enough fat that it will be just fine. The main reason I do this is because the best part of this method is the bark on the outside and if the bark is just covering a giant layer of fat, it is going to get thrown away anyway.
Next, combine all the injection ingredients and mix until the sugar dissolves. Then, using a meat syringe, inject ingredients into the butt at 1 inch intervals from the top. After that, rub your butt down (Yeah, I said it!), wrap it in plastic wrap and let it sit overnight.
Now, wake up at the crack of dawn and get to smokin’…do as your smoker requires…you really want to try and stay in the 250F range and want to try and get it to 190F internal temp before you take it off. Sometimes getting to 190F can be a challenge (this is called “the stall” in BBQ circles)…a shortcut I’ve implored when I just had to have it done in time for an event, etc. is to take it off and wrap it up in tin foil…this hold the heat and will help you get up to your temp (again, some may scoff, but if you are in a jam, gotta do what you gotta do).
Now, remove your butt (Ha!) and let it rest up to an hour. Put on some well insulated gloves, grab a firm hold of the bone and give it a slight tug and it should just slide right out…you slayed it! Then, get to pullin’, add sauce, make into sandwiches, whatever.