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Barbecued Boston Butt


In prerevolutionary new England the loin and ham were considered the choice cuts of a hog. The shoulders were often packed in butts (a barrel of 132 gallons) for storage or shipment. Pork shoulders eventually became known as Boston butts. The butt is the most common cut of meat for Southern barbecue, i.e. pulled pork.

Pork butt

Butt Rub

Trim excess fat from the meat. This will not reduce flavor because there is still plenty of fat dispersed throughout the meat. This trimming will also expedite cleanup of the smoker.

Prepare the Butt Rub (recipe follows). Apply the rub to taste and rub the meat with your hands to evenly distribute it. Wrap the meat in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 days. This will allow the salt to penetrate into the meat. Turn the meat once a day so the juice drawn by the salt will not just pool on the bottom.

Prepare the smoker. I use a 50/50 mixture of pecan and wild cherry, but a variety of woods are suitable. The cooking time will depend upon the size of the butt and weather conditions, so a thermometer is highly recommended. The desired temperature is 195° to 205°F for pulled pork. Some cooks parboil the meat before smoking, but this only removes flavor. Consider this procedure. Smoke the butt for 6 to 7 hours, then place it on the rack in a roasting pan. Pour 2 bottles of beer in the pan (not touching the meat) and cook in a 250°F oven for 2 hours, or until done.

Butt Rub

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup paprika

3 tablespoons salt

3 tablespoons black pepper

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients and thoroughly mix.

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