It’s a long process though, which makes the weekend an ideal time; I get the meat on early, say ten o’clock, and let it smoke away at 225° F (or as close to that temperature as I can maintain) until about six o’clock. A mop every hour or so is all the attention it needs, which gives plenty of time for double digging my wife’s new garden beds (while my 2 1/2 year old assiduously fills them in again).
It was pork butt last weekend, enough to feed a crowd. Which it did. It was so popular in fact, that by the time I made to the table the platter had a mere scrap left. Hardly enough to feed a mouse. But there was some satisfaction to be had in the satisfaction of others. And at least three people went away determined to delve into the delicious world low and slow smoking.
So here’s the recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and friends do. It is essentially a recipe for pulled pork, but without the pulling and without a vinegar sauce. I served the pork, pulled into rough chunks, with a homemade BBQ sauce on the side.
Smoked Pork Butt – Low and Slow
Every BBQ has its own eccentricities which take time to learn, so don’t be discouraged if things aren’t perfect on your first try. The hardest part of low and slow cooking is maintaining a good temperature. Something between 225°-250° F is ideal, but you’ll still get mouth-watering results if your temperature creeps higher (even up to 350° F).
Give yourself 8+ hours, plus prep time, plus resting (though if your BBQ stubbornly refuses to stay around 225° the cooking time will be reduced). You’ll want to take your pork butt off when the internal temperature is between 190°-205° F, then wrap it in foil and let it rest for an hour.
I have a thermometer with two probes which has been invaluable. One probe goes into the meat and the other sits on the cooking grid to monitor the BBQ temperature, then it’s just a matter of adjusting vents to keep the temperature where I want it.
1 Boston butt (6-7 lbs), rolled and tied
4 tablespoons of Barbecue rub (recipe below)
Wood chips (soaked, if you’re cooking with charcoal)
The mop sauce
1 cup cider vinegar
1 small onion, sliced thinly
1 hot pepper (such as jalapeno), sliced thinly
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl (or something else non-reactive) and whisk until the salt is dissolved. You’ll brush this sauce onto the meat as it cooks.
The BBQ Rub
1/4 cup packed brown sugar1/4 cup paprika (good quality fresh paprika makes a big difference here)
3 Tablespoons black pepper (I would recommend crushing whole peppercorns in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, the flavor is much better)
4 Tablespoons coarse salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix. You’ll use all the rub for the pork butt, however make sure to set aside a tablespoon if you’re going to make the homemade BBQ sauce.
2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tablespoons dark molasses
2 Tablespoons mustard (I use a spicy horseradish mustard, but anything would work)
1 Tablespoon BBQ rub
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Optional: 1 Tablespoon Tabasco sauce if you want to up the heat
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring it slowly to a boil. Reduce the heat so the sauce is simmering gently for around 10-15 minutes. It should be dark and rich. Taste and adjust the seasonings until you’re happy. Stored in the fridge this sauce will keep for several months.
Preparing and Cooking the Meat
If you’re organized (which I often am not), you should rub the pork butt with the BBQ rub the day before cooking it. However, lack of planning won’t ruin the meat and you can go so far as to apply the rub immediately before cooking. (Just make sure your meat is at room temperature before putting it on the BBQ).
Regardless of your time frame, cover the pork butt thoroughly with the BBQ rub, making sure to rub it into all the crevices. I get my meat from the local butcher who rolls it and scours it for me, make sure to scour yours with a knife (as in the pictures) if it’s not already done.
On the day of cooking, start your BBQ or grill. The idea is to keep the temperature low and steady for the length of cooking, the technique for doing this will depend on your BBQ. I’ll give a run down of how I do this on my Kamodo charcoal grill and how to do this on a gas grill.
Kamodo charcoal grill technique:
I stick a firelighter at the bottom of a large pile of lump charcoal and light it, leave the lid open for around 10 minutes, then put on a large pizza stone (wrapped in aluminum foil) to act as a heat deflector. (The pizza stone sits on a low rack halfway between the charcoal and the cooking grid.) Then the cooking grid goes on and the lid is closed.
There are two vents on my Kamodo, one at the top and one at the bottom. I keep both of these open until the internal grill temperature reads 150° F on my probe thermometer (there is a thermometer built into the BBQ but it isn’t accurate). Once 150°F is reached, I scatter the soaked wood chips on the coals, put the meat on (fat side up), and begin to slowly close both vents. The important thing here is to be careful not to put the fire out while not letting the BBQ get too hot too quickly. By the time 225° (ish) is reached the vents are only fractionally cracked and require hardly any adjustment for the rest of the day.
Gas grill technique:
The trick for cooking low and slow on a gas grill is to turn on your burners for indirect cooking. So if you have a three burner grill, heat the right or left burner at low and leave the other two off. The ideal temperature is exactly the same as a charcoal grill: keep it as close to the 225°-250°F range as possible. Place your rubbed meat, fat side up, as far from the heat source as possible.
You’ll also need a smoker tray for the wood chips, such as this one: http://www.appliancefactoryparts.com/search/part/12/
Put your dry wood chips in the container and place the container over the hot burner.
Looking after the Meat as it Cooks (For charcoal and gas grills)
Once the outside of the meat is cooked (around an hour or two) it’s time to start basting in the vinegar mop sauce. Continue to mop the pork every hour, this is also the time when you can add more wood chips if you want. The meat is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 190°-205°F.
When the internal temperature is reached, take the pork into the kitchen and wrap in aluminum foil for an hour. Then cut it up, pull it apart, shred it, or whatever you want. It is delicious served with the BBQ sauce recipe above, or with any of the Grumpy’s sauces.