Is My Barbecue Ready Yet? – Cooking Pork
To many in Southeast US, the very meaning of barbecue, is pork. Pork is obviously a very generic term, and really could mean anything cooked from a hog. However for most of us, in barbecue, cooking pork means the shoulder, and for most, the desired cut from the shoulder is the Boston Butt, and this is what we will cover in this article.
The selection process I use for this piece of meat, includes finding one has the fat well marbled or dispersed throughout the cut.
Then, I start looking at weight, the higher the weight, the longer the cook, so I like them right in the middle (8-9lbs). You can find very small ones, which in my opinion are normally difficult to get tender (4-6lb), and the very large ones (11-13lb) are difficult to cook evenly.
Ok, we have found our Boston butt, and it is now time to marinate the piece of meat. The most popular way, and very acceptable way I might add is to put a real good dry rub on, and let it marinate for 10 to 12 hours. A good rub, is the rub we assembled in our first segment in this series “All BBQ Needs is a Good Rub!”.
I like to use what is called a wet rub, which would mean to coat the meat first with a liquid of some kind then apply the rub, or it could mean to actually mix the liquid and the rub, and then apply. My favorite way to approach this would be to apply yellow mustard, then apply the rub. Just plain yellow
Mustard has 2 very desirable properties which make it a great choice in your wet rub application. First, it contains vinegar, vinegar being an acid will start to break down the surface of the meat, allowing the dry rub flavor to penetrate deeper and quicker, then if applied on its own. The other positive to yellow mustard is the consistency. Mustard is more like a paste and it will hold the rub on the meat very effectively, and the taste of it will actually blend well, and not be distinguishable on its own.
You can also inject this cut, and add flavors this way to the meat, such as apple juice, cider vinegar, etc.. This is a very acceptable way to prepare this cut of meat, and if you are going to do so, you would want to inject before you apply your wet rub. In this article, we will add additional flavors after it is cooked. After we have applied our wet rub, we will let marinate for 10 to 12 hours ideally, but if your in a hurry, then I would recommend a minimum of 4 hours. After the marinate time, about 30 minutes prior to putting it in your cooker, apply another coating of the dry rub only. Then let the rub work itself in for about 20 to 30 minutes.
Ok, we are ready to cook. I prefer to cook this cut slow, so I would recommend to cook this between 225 – 250 degrees F. Next, once the outside (the bark) reaches a nice dark color, I wrap the butt in heavy duty aluminum, an ideal internal temperature of the boston butt at this point should be between 150 -170 degrees F (after about 4 to 5 hours), then, place it back into the cooker. I have a few reasons why I like to wrap, first it allows you retain the juices from the butt to use for flavoring after its cooked, it keeps the butt moist, and it will not lose as much moisture, and finally it reduces the cooking time. When foiling at this point, it helps break down the connective tissue in a quicker amount of time.
Remove the butt from the cooker once it has reached an internal temp of 195 – 200 degrees F. You will now want to let it rest in a warm environment (empty cooler, wrapped in a blanket, food holding box) for at least an hour. Then remove from the foil (retaining the juice), and pull, some like to use their hands, and others like to use forks, or a handy tool referred to as bear paws. Once pulled you can now add more flavor to your pork by adding BBQ Sauce, or the retained juices, adding rub, etc. Then serve..
About the Author
Kevin Bevington is the Pit master for the Championship BBQ Team, HomeBBQ.com He has won 60 Championship Titles including 30 Grand Championships, and 30 Reserve Grand Championships. Kevin has released 2 DVD’s for the Backyard Cook, Grilling with HomeBBQ.com and Backyard BBQ with HomeBBQ.com. He also sells some of the finest bbq and grilling rubs, and Barbecue Sauce, the actual products he uses in Barbecue Competitions.