Smoking a Boston Butt for Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwiches

NEW: Check out the Secrets to the Perfect Smoked Boston Butt post for a detailed look on how to smoke a Boston Butt.

Michael Wright A buddy of mine and I smoked a Boston Butt today for pulled pork sandwiches. He has joined my son and me in several competitions and bought himself a smoker. He and I talked for hours about the competitions we had participated in and decided to try out his new smoker. We found a recipe he wanted to try and as a good teacher would do, I made him practice. The trick? Time and patience.

Off to the store we went with recipe in hand. His first lesson was in choosing a quality meat.

We chose an 10 lb. bone-in butt with good helping of fat and collagen. The fat is good. During the long hours of smoking the fat will melt away and keep the meat moist. If you like science then you know that the process of smoking causes collagen to breakdown into simple sugars making the meat sweet and tender.

When we got back to his house my Type AAA personality kicked in. As I readied a jelly roll pan I had my buddy read the recipe again. After he was done we assembled the ingredients for the rub and placed them on the jelly roll pan. We also gathered all of our cooking utensils. This way we made sure we had everything in one place and on a surface to catch spills. I made sure he knew to follow the chosen recipe as written. If he was pleased with it, he should pull a Paula Abdul and "make the recipe his own" the next time by adding his twist on it.

Second lesson, make sure the first step in completing every recipe you try is to make sure you assemble all ingredients and cooking utensils BEFORE you start cooking.

Once the meat had reached room temperature we made the rub and liberally applied it. Remember that you are trying to flavor a large piece of meat. To apply, trim unnecessary fat and skin, rinse with cool water and pat dry. Take the rub and work it into the meat. Make sure that every part is evenly covered. I also injected the butt with apple juice. We let the butt sit in the refrigerator overnight to allow the flavors to mingle.

Bright and early the next morning we lit the smoker. My buddy had soaked oak and pecan chunks in water. We are not ones to use charcoal fluid as we use Match Light instead. Who wants to eat meat that tastes like lighter fluid? We allowed the smoker to reach 225 degrees. We placed the Boston Butt on the smoker and just left it alone. We checked the flame and wood every hour and was careful not to let the temperature adjust. It's just like opening the oven in the house, heat escapes and changes cooking time and the quality of the taste.

So lesson three...Keep the lid closed and the oven door shut...follow the recipe! We allowed 1 1/2 hours of cooking time per pound. So it was 15 hours worth of smoking, completing honey-do lists, playing with the kids, and checking the temperature. We had to rekindle the fire about every two hours. The neighborhood smelled GREAT.

About six that evening we checked to see if the butt was done. When the bone pulled out easily the butt was done. We wrapped it in aluminum foil and let it sit in the kitchen for about an hour.

Last lesson for now...meat should rest to allow the flavorful juices to flow evenly through the meat. The meat should be cool enough for pulling after an hour. As you pull the meat apart, place it in a pre-warmed crock pot on a low temperature to keep it warm. You will need to separate the meat from remaining fat, bone or other non-palatable parts. From here you can serve.

The Boston Butt is not complete with out an outstanding BBQ sauce recipe. Again, here is the BBQ rub recipe we used.

Along with the Pulled Pork sandwiches, the kids enjoyed my homemade mint-chocolate chip ice cream. It is my wife's favorite. Here is the recipe!

Michael Wright
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  1. Air Lar says:

    Couldn't agree with you more about lighter fluid, however, match light charcoal is just regular charcoal that already contains lighter fluid. That's how it lights. The trick if you are going to use that crap is to make sure the coals are completely ashed over, then your fluid has burned off. In any case, invest in a chimney starter and ditch the fluid AND the match light...

  2. Kingsford says:

    I agree with Air Lar, if you didn't know that match light charcoal had lighter fluid in it you are clueless

  3. sorry boys, ditched the coal alltogether{causes cancer} went electric! built my own kustom smoker; in which i set at any temp and don't have to mess with. smokin results are great!

  4. Big J,
    Love to see a picture of what you built...

  5. gayle deuel says:

    Indirect smoking is the key to proper smoke flavors. Charcoal needs to be used to start your fire then wood once the fire has started. I've been smoking for a long time and whole wood will give best results

  6. Florida Ron says:

    I don't use charcoal at all. I light wood with newspaper and wait for the smoker to warm. In the beginning of this process the smoker gets way too warm and I allow it to cool, this way I have a nice bed of coals to work with and only have to add wood every hour or so. I also open the grill about every hour and spray the pork with a combo of oil and apple cider. The smoking indirect using wood makes a wonderful piece of meat.

  7. Can't beleive that Mike took his time to give us his wonderful recipe and tell us all about a time time he had with his friend and family and most of your just bashed him for using charcoal. Shame on you! Great stuff Mike, I look forward to using it - thanks for the tips.

  8. You are right about that recipe and the good time. I have a 9lb butt on the grill now. With charcoal which isn't good for you but the pork has fat and the beer damages my liver and I did not get not awesome retired military appearance by pushing away from the chow table or beverages of choice. I cook by the seat of my pants. I seasoned the butt with red pepper and some creole seasoning. I then marinade with some hot marinade and barbecue sauce and let it sit overnight. I have a weber 22 inch grill. I start the fire with 7 or 8 pieces of charcoal on each side of the grill. I let that sit for 20 minutes and then put the butt on. Every 45 minutes or so I add 3 chunks of coal. I also stab the butt with a knife and brush on the marinade I had to help keep it moist. I do have a meat thermometer and check it at 145 but usually 165 is the magic number. 12 hours or so which is alittle faster then 90 minutes a pound but the marinade keeps it moist. It falls off the bone.

    jerz jarhead.