Smoking: Pork Butt

i love the taste of meat.  All kinds of meat.  Pork, beef, chicken, turkey…all of them and a few others i have sampled up here, including bear and moose.  I receive these other meats from friends who hunt. I like my meat dead.  i do not enjoy hunting.  The meat must come to me.

And in the summer, the smoker is going full tilt all the time.  i love it!  And i have gotten good at it, if i do say so myself.

And it all begins with the meat.  Our meat is terrific, courtesy of Bussiere’s Italian Sausage, our local butcher.

Look at that marbling!

That pork butt has been deboned for me, at no charge.  So i pay for meat, not bone.  And don’t believe all the hype about it being better with a bone in it, like it does magic or something.  i’ve cooked a lot of pork butts.  When it is done this way, i get more meat surface for spice, not to mention a couple of tasty chunks on the end that cook up quicker and help keep the cook going.

The hacking cuts on top are not the result of a sloppy butcher.  I cut off most of the surface fat with well-marbled meat.  It mostly runs down the sides of the meat and ends up in the water pan.  I cut the thicker pieces of fat off and smoke them separately, which renders down into a beautiful smoky lard i use in my pastry for meat pies.

i sprinkle my rub (recipe at the end).  It has some complexity and i use it on any meat with good success.

Again, there is no salt in the rub.  Most store rubs have tons of salt in them.  Meat should be salted the day before and put in plastic wrap or on a tray (dries the meat a bit, which i like).  Then apply rub the next day before you smoke.  Some guys like to put rub on and wrap it in plastic overnight, but i find this just wastes rub (some comes off on the plastic) and has no benefit.

Sprinkle rub all over the butt and then rub it (hence the name, you know) into every little nook and cranny of the meat.  I mean use a little force and get it in there.  It will look like this.

Then sprinkle the top portion of the butt with more rub.  A lot of rub.  The sugar and spices will combine with the salted meat and make a beautiful, flavourful crust.  If you are making pulled pork, you will want this crust for flavour.

This is a picture of a different piece of meat, just so you see how it looks.

i do not like to waste smoke.  Wood costs money, so i load it up well, as a rule.  Maybe an experiment or two.  I put some crimini mushrooms in an old cake pan, and the lard in the other old cake pan.

Winter smoking is a delight.  No bugs (we get a few up here).   Nothing.  Just cold and nature.  Brisk and beautiful.  This is the current winter smoker setup.  You can see i wear safety footwear.  Nothing like a hot coal in your slipper.

The smoker has a water pan, and this provides a moist, smoky environment which hovers around the boiling temp of water (steam)…220-240 degrees, when the smoker is set up properly.  Charcoal goes below with wood, usually chips.  I use a lot of hickory and mesquite.  Theses are not common woods up here, but i have started some shagbark hickory.  We will see.

i almost cried when it all came out about 6 hours later…wonderful!  Barbecue makes me emotional, what can i say?  Smoked mushrooms, some pork rinds (hoping to find a use for these….ideas?), not to mention that wonderfully flavoured pork grease.  i will find a use for that.  The mushrooms are exquisite and i could use them to flavour anything with a light smoky flavour.

The meat?  No, the meat was only at 185F.  Collagen (the connective tissue that makes these cuts of meat terrible to eat if they’re not cooked properly) dissolves at around the 200F mark.  Until that meat hits that sweet spot, it needs to cook some more.

i do not do smoking or barbecue at night.  In the summer I really do not want a lot of bears smelling cooking meat and popping in for a visit.  Night vision is going, you know.

In the winter, it is cold.  Really cold.  i live in a wood-heated place and see no sense running out there to check things.  The meat is already fully smoked, so into a roasting bag it goes and into the oven for a few more hours.  Then i turn off the heat and let it sit there overnight.

Another technique is to take a cooler ( a foam one works fine), wrap the meat in towels and leave it in there overnight.  i have a good oven, but have used this other method with great results.

Here is the end result.  Sooooo good.  i can make pulled pork.  i can chop it up and use it in appetizers.  And baked beans made with some of the pulled pork is out of this world.


Yummy.  See that bit of glistening fat and collagen?  Moist and tender.  Amazing mouthfeel.

If you have comments or questions, feel free.  If there are mistakes, i will edit them right away.  i will also answer any questions soon as i am able.

Here is my spice rub recipe:

John’s Rub

Ingredients (use dried whole spices if possible)

2 Tablespoons Demerara sugar

1/2 Cup paprika

1/4 Cup chilli powder (i blend different dried chillies together, so the flavour varies, but chipotle is nice)

1 Tablespoon oregano, dry

1 Tablespoons thyme, dry

1/4 Cup garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion granules

1 Tablespoon cayenne

1 Tablespoon white pepper

1 Tablespoon black pepper

2 teaspoon mustard seed

2 teaspoon coriander

2 Tablespoons celery seed

3 teaspoon cumin seed

2 teaspoon allspice

2 teaspoons ajwain seed


i grind all the ingredients together and store them in a tight container.

Happy smoking!


3 thoughts on “Smoking: Pork Butt

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