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Smoked Pork Butt

Southern Living’s Ultimate Book of BBQ is a complete year-round guide to grilling and smoking organized by meats cooked low and slow and those done hot and fast. This Smoked Pork Butt falls in the low and slow category and may very well be the most forgiving meat to barbecue. So, if you’re trying out a smoker for the first time, this cut of pork is a good one. Just coat it with a good dry rub, let it rest and leave everything else up to your smoker.

porkbuttvert1 (8-10 lb.) bone-in pork shoulder roast (Boston butt)
1/2 cup peanut oil
2 cups Season All Rub (recipe below)
1 cup Pork Brine Injection (recipe below)
3 to 4 sugar maple or cherry wood chunks
10 lbs. charcoal briquettes
3/4 cup apple juice
El Sancho Barbecue Sauce
North Cackalacky Barbecue Sauce (recipe below)

Season All Rub:
Use Christopher Prieto’s signature rub on anything you want to throw on the grill or smoker: fish, steaks, pork or chicken.

3⁄4 cup paprika
1⁄2 cup turbinado sugar
1⁄4 cup seasoned salt
1⁄4 cup coarse black pepper
2 Tbsp. granulated garlic
1 Tbsp. granulated onion
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. chipotle powder

Stir together all ingredients until well blended. Store in an airtight container up to 1 month. Makes about 2 cups.

Pork Brine Injection:

2 cups apple juice
1⁄4 cup white vinegar
1 1⁄8 cups sugar
1⁄4 cup kosher salt
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. Season All Rub

Stir together all ingredients until sugar dissolves. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 week. Makes about 2.5 cups.

North Cackalacky Barbecue Sauce:
Vinegar-based sauces, like this slightly spicy sauce, are traditional in eastern North Carolina and don’t require refrigeration.

2 cups apple cider vinegar
1⁄4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. firmly packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp. hot sauce
1 1⁄2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. coarse black pepper
1⁄8 tsp. ground red pepper
2 tsp. table salt
1 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1⁄2 cup apple juice

Stir together all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1 2⁄3 cups, about 25 minutes.

El Sancho Barbecue Sauce:
This Texas-style barbecue sauce is sweet and spicy and ideal with smoked brisket, pulled pork, or even beef ribs.

1⁄3 cup tomato paste
1⁄2 cup ketchup
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1⁄4 cup yellow mustard
1⁄4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. hot sauce
1 Tbsp. granulated onion
1 Tbsp. granulated garlic
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. hickory liquid smoke
1 tsp. coarse tellicherry black pepper
1 cup sugar
1⁄3 cup honey

Stir together tomato paste and next 10 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and honey, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 week. Makes about 3 cups.


To prepare the pork butt, first trim excess fat. Coat pork butt with peanut oil, followed by a liberal coating of Season All Rub. Using an injector, inject 1 cup Pork Brine Injection into pork butt at 1-inch intervals. Chill for 4-6 hours.

Remove pork butt from refrigerator and let stand for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare charcoal fire in smoker according to


*Minion Method. Place water pan in smoker; add water to depth of fill line. Regulate temperature with a thermometer to 275 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. Place pork on upper food grate; close smoker. Smoke 4-6 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 165 degrees, spritzing with apple juice every hour.

Remove pork from smoker and wrap tightly in a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil; return pork to smoker. Continue cooking until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 200 degrees. Remove pork butt from smoker; open foil, and allow steam to escape for 2-4 minutes. Let pork rest in foil 2-4 hours.

Remove pork from foil, and place on a cutting board, reserving drippings in foil. Pull pork into large chunks and discard all visible fat; coarsely chop and drizzle with reserved pork drippings. Serve with El Sancho Barbecue Sauce or North Cackalacky Barbecue Sauce.
*Minion Method:

When it comes to starting his smoker, our award-winning pitmaster Christopher Prieto prefers what is known as the Minion Method, which was created by Jim Minion for the Weber Smokey Mountain cooker. “One of the advantages this method has over others is there’s less chance that the cooker will run hotter than you want,” Prieto explains. “It’s easier to start with a few hot coals and bring the temperature up to 225-250 degrees than it is to start with a red-hot cooker and bring the temperature down.”

The Minion Method is simple and sets up the charcoal so it achieves a longer, more consistent burn. If prepared correctly, your fire should burn between six and 10 hours at 225-275 degrees and will eliminate the need to add more fuel, making it ideal for meats that require long, low and slow cooking.

Some pitmasters create a donut-shape with the unlit charcoal chamber, then fill the hole with the lit charcoal, so the charcoal slowly burns from the inside out. There is one disadvantage to using the Minion Method: cooking over unlit charcoal. Since the Minion Method goes against the idea that charcoal briquettes should be completely lit and white before cooked over, those with sensitive palates could detect an off flavor. However, numerous winning teams on the barbecue circuit use this method without any negative effects to the quality of their barbecue.

1. Fill the smoker’s charcoal chamber with unlit charcoal briquettes.
2. Spread several chunks of wood beneath the unlit charcoal.
3. Fill the chimney starter about halfway with charcoal and light it.
4. After 7-10 minutes, and once the charcoal at the top of the chimney is ash white, pour it over the unlit charcoal in the charcoal chamber. That’s it.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Oxmoor House. 

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