When it comes to cooking meat, pork is known for being fairly forgiving but for some reason I have had some recent issues with getting pork butt done just right. Ribs, not a problem. Brisket, nailed it. Pulled pork, meh.
I thought long and hard about potential reasons for the less than stellar results and only one thing stood out as to why…the pork I’ve been using was boneless. You see, I was in Costco a couple months ago and they had a sale on cryovac pork butt so I grabbed one package that weighed in near 22 lbs. I expected there to be a bone but alas when I opened up the package everything spilled out in 4-5 hunks of pork. They were not uniform in shape and flopped all over the place because the shoulder bone was completely removed! The results from these specific butts was nothing to write home about.
Now after that lengthy prelude, we now turn our attention to this past weekend where I was determined to solve my pulled pork struggles. First off, a proper cryovac pork butt was found:
I got this 10 pounder at a small, independent supermarket. It had a nice mixture of fat and meat. As you can see, it is fairly uniform in shape.
After removing the packaging, the entire butt stayed in one piece…thanks to the intact shoulder blade bone (which I am pointing to). The bone is also the secret component to knowing when the butt is done.
Now it was time to apply my homemade dry rub. It’s a super simple recipe of salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder. It gives both a nice flavour profile and forms a good bark.
Here it is all rubbed up and ready to hit the smoker. When applying rub, don’t forget to hit all around the edges as well so the bark is nice and uniform.
While prepping the butt, Stumpy was getting all warmed up despite the early blast of winter weather that we got. Have no fear…thanks to the cooker design it will hold a desired temperature pretty much bang on even when the mercury dips below freezing.
With the butt rubbed, its time to throw it on the pit and lock it down. A 10 lb butt takes roughly 1 hr of cooking per pound…so I won’t see this baby for a long while and remember: “If you’re lookin’ you ain’t cookin’.” 🙂
So..what does one do to pass the time away during a long cook? There’s always side items to make or tv to watch or naps to take….but I decided to knock an item off my to-do list: Finding a home for some firewood for Stumpy.
It’s been a solid 8 hours and how do I know that the pork is done cooking? Well you could slice it open to look at the inside for doneness or stick a thermometer in it to get a temperature reading or you could say a few prayers to the BBQ Gods and “hope” it’s done…or you can just check the pork butt’s own self contained doneness indicator. The Bone. Yup, just grab the bone and if it starts to lift away from the meat, it is done. Simple. No fuss, no muss. 🙂 This was why my previous attempts didn’t turn out so well..I had no true way of knowing when it was done since the Costco butts had no bone. I felt vindicated!
Now it was just a matter of a little more patience while the butt rested. Then pulled it to shreds, loaded it up on a kaiser along with some homemade coleslaw and VOILA….now its time to have a nap. 🙂