We’re at the end of Smoking week in 30 Days to Better BBQ and I want to finish off with another video. This time I’m smoking a pork butt, low and slow in my Weber Smokey Mountain to make pulled pork.
If you are new to low and slow BBQ and smoking, Pulled pork is a great cook to help you practice fire management and temperature control. It is a little more forgiving than some low and slow classics such as brisket as it can handle a slightly higher heat and the window for getting it off the smoker just right is a wider.
Setting up the smoker
I used my Weber Smokey Mountain for this cook but you can get equally great results on a Weber Kettle using the snake method for your coal setup.
In the WSM I fired it up using the minion method and brought it up to around 130C. I filled the water bowl to around halfway with boiling water. Using cold water in the bowl will make it difficult to get the smoker up to temperature as the water will absorb a lot of heat.
Preparing the Pork Butt
For this cook, I used a 3kg boneless Pork butt, which is from the shoulder of the pig. You can also use a bone in pork shoulder which will still have the blade bone. When the pork shoulder is cooked to tenderness, the blade bone will slide out clean.
To prepare the pork butt for the smoker, you don’t need to do a lot. Remove any ‘knobbly bits’ that are sticking out as they are likely to burn over the duration of the cook. If there is a heavy fat cap on top of the pork butt, this can be trimmed down to allow as much rub as possible to get into the meat. There is plenty of fat in the pork shoulder that will slowly melt, adding flavour to the meat and keeping it moist.
I seasoned the pork butt with two Angus & Oink rubs. The first layer was ‘Porky White Chick’ followed by a layer of ‘The General’. When the pork butt is evenly coated on all sides, it’s time to get it on to smoke.
Smoking the Pork Butt
The initial stage of the cook is simply to let the pork butt take on the smoke and to add a great colour to it. After placing the pork butt on the smoker, I added a chunk of Cherry wood and a chunk of Silver Birch, both from Smokewood Shack. I like the flavour of this blend as it is quite mild and you get a great colour from the Cherry wood.
Leave the pork butt to smoke for about 3-4 hours. You can check it from time to time to make sure the surface of the meat isn’t drying out too much and spray it with some apple juice if you need to. Once you are happy with the colour, it is time to lift it off and wrap it up.
There are lots of people who will not wrap the pork butt for the entire cook but I like to wrap. It speeds up the cook a little so can be a life saver if you’re pushed for time. You can also add some liquid into the foil which will help braise the pork butt, making it really tender and juicy.
Do your best to avoid tearing any holes in your foil or else you will end up with a puddle on the bottom of your smoker. You want to wrap the pork butt as tightly as possible as this will avoid any steam building up and ruining that bark you worked hard to create.
Once wrapped, put the pork butt back onto the smoker and leave it for another few hours.
When is it ready?
After you wrap the pork butt, check it from time to time with your Thermapen. It’s best to feel for tenderness rather than relying on an internal temperature to tell you when your pork butt is ready. You will know you are in the right zone when the internal temperature reaches around 93C but if the probe isn’t pushing into the meat with no resistance, leave the pork butt on the smoker of a little while longer.
When you are happy with how the pork butt is probing, it’s time to lift it off and rest it. I usually leave the pork but loosely wrapped in foil with a few towels over it for about an hour. At this point, the pork butt has cooled enough that you can hold it with your hand without burning.
When it’s time to shred the pork butt, you can use your tongs, bear claws, forks or simply your hands to pulled it apart.
If you are new to low and slow BBQ I highly recommend giving pulled pork a try. It’s a straightforward cook that tastes great. It keeps really well in the fridge and is great for wraps and sandwiches for a quick lunch or add it to a pizza.