Nothing says summer more than firing up your smoker, sitting in the sun and drinking some beer. Last sunday it was 65 degrees and sunny so I decided that I wanted to make some pulled pork. I went to the butcher and of course, he was on vacation. So I had to choose from the meat in the case. They had a pretty good selection including full picnic shoulders, 9 pound briskets and boston butts. I chose a small 6 pound boston butt as I was only feeding myself. I know 6 pounds is a lot. But on the other hand it is still better than barbecuing a 14 pound picnic shoulder for myself. Although, I probably would have eaten it all. Pork is amazing!
Above is some freshly shredded pork, you can see the nice pink smoke ring. Doesn’t it look delicious.
Before you can dust the meat with your rub, I always like to brine the meat. Why brine you say? Well brining helps the meat retain moisture, become more tender, and overall can help impart nice flavors if you spice up your brine.
To make my brine I used:
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 cup non-iodized salt (kosher or sea salt)
- cayenne pepper
- seasoning salt
- 1/2 pound of ice cubes
Start with the 3 cups of water, salt, cayenne and seasoning salt in a non-reactive pan and bring to a boil. I know it seems like a lot of salt but once the mixture boils, remove from the heat and add the ice. The ice will melt, cooling the brine immediately down so that you can use it right away. This is why there was so much salt. We needed it as the ice was going to dilute the mixture.
Next inject the meat with the brine. You could just let the pork butt soak overnight, but since it is a thick cut of meat it would never fully absorb. I always inject as much brine as the meat will take and then let rest for an hour. Make sure to put the meat in a dish as some of the brine will leak out.
Once the meat is fully rested, remove it from the refrigerator and pat it dry. Now it is time for the rub. Remember once again, it may seem like there is way too much seasoning and salt in the rub, but it is only on the outside of the meat. For it to penetrate the flavors have to be strong.
The Rub – In a bowl mix
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 3 tbs paprika
- 1 tbs dry mustard
- 1 tbs chili powder
- 1 tbs seasoning salt
- 2 tsp onion (powder or granulated)
- 2 tsp garlic (powder or granulated)
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp celery salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
After you pat the meat dry and liberally shake the rub over the meat. I then pat the rub into the meat and let the meat rest for the rub to set. After it sets, rotate the meat and rub the other sides. Then let the meat sit while you get your fire started in your smoker.
Once you have your smoker going steady around 210-230 degrees, insert a thermometer into the meat and place it on the smoker in the warmer part of your smoker. If your smoker is anything like mine, it has hot and cold spots. Since the pork butt is a thick cut of meat I usually place it on the grates near the firebox.
I had a 6lb pork butt cooking at 215 degrees. So it would take approximately 10 hours to cook. So I set the smoker, closed up the vents so that it stayed at 215 and barbecued it for 5 hours. At the 5 hour time I opened up the smoker flipped and rotated the meat. While the cover was open I basted it.
Above it the meat halfway through cooking. As you can see the rub is set and it is looking amazing.
Barbecue Mop – (All purpose Memphis Basting Sauce from Paul Kirk’s Championship Barbecue)
- 3 cups water
- 1.5 cups red wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup Heinz 57 steak sauce
- 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1 tbs seasoned salt
- 2 tsp liquid smoke
Every 30 minutes open the lid and mop the meat. If you don’t have a mop you can go to the hardware store and grab a clean spray bottle. This works very well. A word of WARNING. The only problem is that you need to strain the mop sauce before you put it into the spray bottle. I have lost of few good spray bottles by not properly straining the mop sauce.
When the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees remove from the smoker and wrap in aluminum foil. Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes to let the internal temperature rise to 205 degrees. This is the perfect temperature to pull the meat.
As you can see above, the bone is falling out of the meat. I have also added a picture of the perfect smok ring. It penetrated the meat, hardened the rub and made some delicious meat.
One of my passions is barbecueing and this outing was nothing but spectacular. The meat was perfectly cooked with a kiss of smoke. The meat was juicy and tender. It made some of the best pulled pork sandwiches that I have ever had. If you have a chance to barbecue I hope you try this method. Brining makes all of the difference.