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So you want to try smoking your first Pork Shoulder

schlotz

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There are many ways, and all of them can give great results. One of the reasons is that pork butts are very forgiving. Here is the recipe I usually pass on to those first starting with a smoker. The results are predictable and we haven't heard from anyone who hasn't enjoyed the end result. It's a modified version that originally came from Alton Brown.

Smoked Pork Butt
Recipe: modified by Matt, ORG: Alton Brown
Serving Size: 12

Ingredients:

9 pounds Boston butt, bone in, prefer non-moisture enhanced
Canola spray
apple juice, in spray bottle
- - -
Brine
8 ounces molasses grandma's
2/3 cup pickling salt , use only 1/2 cup if meat is "moisture enhanced"
2 quarts bottled water
2 1/2 gal. zip-lok bag
- - -
Rub: this makes more than what a usual butt requires
2 tsp whole cumin seed
2 tsp whole fennel seed
2 tsp whole coriander
2 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoon paprika, not smoked

Directions:

1. Brine the Butt for 15 hours Combine molasses, pickling salt, and water in a 2-1/2 gallon zip-lok bag, dissolve completely. Completely submerge the Boston butt in brine by squeezing out the air and sliding the zip-lok. Place the bag with meat into a very large mixing bowl and weigh the top down with 2 cans of beans from the pantry to keep everything submerged for marinating. Let sit in refrigerator for a minimum of 12 hours. 15 hours is ideal.

2. Prepare the RUB Place cumin seed, fennel seed, and coriander in food grinder and grind fine. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and stir in chili powder, onion powder, and paprika.

3. Wearing latex gloves: Remove Boston butt from brine and pat dry. Lightly spay the butt with canola oil. Sift the rub evenly over the meat and then lightly pat down to help the rub adhere. I use a small 2” dia mesh strainer for this, tapping it on the side to sift the rub onto the meat. It gives a very even coating. More rub will adhere to the meat if you are wearing gloves during the application. Cover every inch of the meat.

4. SMOKE: I use the smoke setting of 185º for 1-2 hr, then @245-250º until IT reaches 160º (155-165º is fine), usually takes 5-6 hours. SPRAY w/APPLE JUICE every hour starting after hour 2. If wanting stronger smoke flavor, add the tube smoker.

5. SMOKER FINISH: your choice - either place butt in pan and cover with foil OR, leave as is. Pan & foil will get done quicker and if doing so I raise the heat to 300º. Bark will be soft but plenty of juice *. Note, a straight smoke at 225º should take 10-12 hours, but less at 245º or higher. Begin checking meat for doneness after 10 hours or an IT of 195º, whichever comes first. Be aware though it could take longer i.e. 13-16 hours or so. Meat can’t tell time, it’s done when it wants to be.

* If the butt is unwrapped in a covered pan be careful when attempting to remove. Last one I did this way was full to the top with juice due the brining and you’ll need to syphon some of it out before moving.

6. OVEN FINISH - faster @ IT 160º’ish: Remove, insert an electronic meat thermometer making sure it’s not touching the bone, tightly double wrap in alum foil. Note: after 5-6 hours of smoke, the meat won't absorb much more, so you are essentially cooking it until done at this point. Put wrapped butt into a large tin foil container (11.5 x 9.25 internal), and place in oven at 300 ºF. Continue the cook until 200-205ºF. Meat is unpredictable, make sure to set your thermometer alarm to go off when it hits 203º. Can be anywhere from 2 to 4 hours in the oven but usually close to 2.

7. So which finishing method do I use? Depends on the time available, when there’s plenty, leave it in the smoker. We do not mind the softer bark and the total time is less using the oven method.

8. Pull Butt when IT is 203-205º & REST. Remove from oven/smoker. The meat still needs to rest for at least 2 hours. Place the panned butt in a large sealed cooler surrounded with a couple of bath towels to help maintain warmth. REMEMBER: to be safe, meat should be kept above 150º, so I leave the thermo probe in the meat and monitor it while it sits.

9. Pull meat apart with forks. You should be able to grab the bone and easily pull it out clean. Can be served plain, or in sandwiches with maybe a side of coleslaw. I suggest a good barbecue dipping sauce like Rum Sweet Heat (see below).
 
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smokin vegas

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My favorite smoke pork butt is injected with brine + garlic and onion powder Then basted with pesto so, so , so tender and moist ---- best ever!
 

SmokinAl

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Everybody has their own way of smoking a butt, but the good thing is just about any method you use is going to be good.
It's really hard to screw up a butt, & pretty easy to make PP better than the local BBQ joint!
Al
 

Braz

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I had not seen this post till today. Excellent easy to follow tutorial for the beginning smoker.
 

jaypatrick

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2 Questions - 1 Is it possible to over-brine? I'm trying to work out the timeline .. without getting up in the middle of the night to either start the brine or move it to the smoker. And 2, do you let it rest to room temp before putting on the smoker? Thanks!
 

schlotz

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I've used this brine for as little as 9 hours and as much as 18 hrs and it seems to work fine. I usually start the brine somewhere between 6-8pm the night before. In the morning I start the smoker first, remove the butt from the brine, apply rub then into the smoker. I don't wait for the meat to come to room temp. By starting the smoke at 7am, running at 250-260º, one can easily be done and butt rested for a couple of hours prior to a 6pm dinner using the oven finish method. This assumes a bone-in avg 9lb butt. Yes the bark is softer but the flavor IMO is unchanged and dinner planning is easier. If wanting to leave it alone in the smoker until done, I would start smoking closer to 6am and bump the smoker to 275º. Regardless of which finishing method I suggest using a wifi/bluetooth thermometer inserted in the middle of the butt not touching the bone to monitor the IT, looking for 201-204º. Then pull and rest in an insulated cooler for a couple of hours.
 

jaypatrick

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Thanks schlotz - good info. Yeah, I'm gonna have to look into one of those wifi/bt thermometers!
 

jaypatrick

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I did notice recently that when the lid said 350 .. the internal (sitting on the rack) registered a full 50˚ lower!
 

schlotz

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Plenty to choose from. Personally, I use those from Thermoworks but there are less expensive ones ex) Mavericks. Key point is to look for a 'calibrated' 2 probe device so you can monitor the true grate temp approx 3" from what you are smoking and the true IT of the meat itself. Just because you set your smoker to 225º, is the grate temp really 225º?
 

MJB05615

Smoke Blower
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Joined May 12, 2018
Plenty to choose from. Personally, I use those from Thermoworks but there are less expensive ones ex) Mavericks. Key point is to look for a 'calibrated' 2 probe device so you can monitor the true grate temp approx 3" from what you are smoking and the true IT of the meat itself. Just because you set your smoker to 225º, is the grate temp really 225º?
I am not getting enough flavor in pork butts. I dry rub overnight in fridge. Have tried wrapping, not wrapping. Injecting, not injecting.

it almost always tastes like it has no seasoning at all. Almost like right out of the packahe into the smoker.
 

jaypatrick

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MJB05615, that makes me ask the general question (posed to any who have input) of how much the smoker’s “seasoning” comes into play? Is yours a new unit?
 
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MJB05615

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MJB05615, that makes me ask the general question (posed to any who have input) of how much the smoker’s “seasoning” comes into play? Is yours a new unit?
Thanks for the response, It's 3 years old and well seasoned. Everything else I make is with good flavor. I have great success with Brisket, ribs, loin, etc. Just not getting much on butts. I cook low like 220 f, wrap at 165 f pull off smoker at 200-205 f. Rest, etc.

Dry rub 15-24 hours and refrigerate the night before. We notice no difference in flavor whether I inject or not.
 

schlotz

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I am not getting enough flavor in pork butts. I dry rub overnight in fridge. Have tried wrapping, not wrapping. Injecting, not injecting.

it almost always tastes like it has no seasoning at all. Almost like right out of the packahe into the smoker.
We probably need a bit more information. What smoker are you using, what temp are you smoking at? What is the process you've followed in smoking a butt from beginning to end?
 

schlotz

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Guess you were typing when I asked the above. What is your dry rub? What wood/pellet are you using? Have you tried using an augmented smoke source like the AMAZEN Tube smoker?
 

MJB05615

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We probably need a bit more information. What smoker are you using, what temp are you smoking at? What is the process you've followed in smoking a butt from beginning to end?
Using MES 40' gen 2 I think.
I use a basic dry rub the night before and refigerate at least 12 hours.
preheat smoker to 230' , pull out of fridge for 20-30 minutes while smoker heats up. Once temp is hit, put butt into smoker on rack with aluminum pan on rack beneath it.
Once IT hits 160, take out of smoker, add more rub and wrap in foil, (DO YOU THINK PINK BUTCHER PAPER WOULD DO A BETTER JOB LIKE IT DOES ON BRISKET?) wait til IT hits 200-205 take out and rest 30-45 minutes.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks
 

MJB05615

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Joined May 12, 2018
Guess you were typing when I asked the above. What is your dry rub? What wood/pellet are you using? Have you tried using an augmented smoke source like the AMAZEN Tube smoker?
dry rub brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, chili powder. Wife doesn't like any spicey stuff so no cayenne or cumin. I used to use 3 part brown sugar to 1 part of the other spices, but lately have adjusted to a 3 part brown sugar to 2 part other spices, so it's not mostly brown sugar.

i use a mixture of hickory and apple wood chips. I have the masterbuilt add on smoke generator which works ok, I just have to recheck and reload every hour. You cannot load it more than 1/3-1/2 or it will smother itself as most know. With this add on it generates plenty of smoke throughout the cooking.
 

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