Monday, January 18, 2010

Smoked Pork Butt

I've been accused of being a pig's butt, however that is not what we are talking about today. The butt is the butt-end of the pork shoulder, thus pork 'butt'. Pork shoulder is the Lord's way of telling smokers and grillers that he loves us, died for us, and that He is full of grace.

I found a good deal on a pork butt that was about 5 lbs or so. I swear the thing was calling my name from the meat case at Kroger. It is a well marbled piece of pork, and fat is something that is missing from most of today's store-bought pork. SOME fat is a good thing.

I also went to 'The Container Store' and guess what I bought? A container! I finally bought a dedicated plastic container for brining, curing and rubbing meats. It fits in the bottom of my fridge perfectly, and can stack them if needed. I can fit a pork belly cut in half, a couple of pork loins, and probably could have fit two of these pork butts in one of the containers.

I decided to brine the butt ahead of time. I have had great success in brining different meats so far and thought this would be a good experiment.
For the brine I used:

A gallon of water
3 cups of canning salt
a cup or so of dark corn syrup
- a couple of brine recipes called for molasses, but I was out of molasses. I could have used brown sugar, or nothing, but got the wild idea of adding the corn syrup. I guess we will find out how it worked. I am typing this while the butt is on the smoker.

If I had two pork butts I would have needed less liquid, the important thing is to cover the meat with the liquid. After mixing the brine, I put the lid on and refrigerated it for about 18 hours. I wanted to brine it for 24 hours but my impatience kicked in every time I opened the refrigerator and the meat was staring at me.

The next day I drained the brine and replaced it with cold fresh water,and let it sit for about a half hour in the water. After draining the water again, I patted the meat DRY.

I put the butt back into my new fancy-schmancy container and mixed a rub. This is what I use for a rub when I want a standard Kansas City style rub.

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne/jalapeno/Anaheim powder I used my homemade jalapeno powder.

You can get creative however, and use whatever ingredients you want. I have 'winged-it' many times and have come up with some good mixes.

I used GENEROUS amounts of the rub. And I RUB my rub into the meat well. Many articles on rubs and meats state that it isn't necessary to rub the rubs into meat, I say 'meadow-muffins.' It's called a rub for a reason, and I want the rub to stick and get as deep into the meat as possible. -stepping down off soapbox-

I placed the butt on the smoker, using hickory chunks, but use whatever wood you want. I plan on smoking this for about 10-12 hours, but will monitor it as the day progresses. Here's what it looks like, the picture was taken soon after placing the butt on the smoker.

- "Later that day" -

Here is what it looked like after about 10 hours of smoking

It wasn't quite up to the FDA's safe temp of 160 degrees for pork (Rytek Kutas, THE man of smoked meats, states 152 is the safe temp for pork, but let's go with 160.) I placed it in heavy duty aluminum foil, added a small (1/4 cup?) of water, closed it up and placed in a 250 degree oven. I ended up cooking it this way for another 5-6 hours.

I took a fork and started to pull it, but most of the time I only needed my fingers, it was that tender.

Now to cook up a good sauce!

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