Smoked/Pulled Pork

Smoked/Pulled Pork

A bone-in Boston Butt is being used for this recipe.  I trim the fat-cap on the top a little bit.  Next, the pork is lathered (on all sides) with mustard and your favorite pork rub (mixture of McCormick's BBQ and KC Masterpiece were used the last time).  Since this BBQ seasoning did not contain a lot of sugar, I put some more brown sugar on the top of the pork and rubbed it in.  After that, I rest it in the fridge for about 24 hours covered in an aluminum pan (same pan it is cooked in).

On the next day, the smoker is preheated to about 275.  Wood chips are loaded and a little water and/or apple juice is added to the drip pan.

Cook for a few hours or until the bark is set (a little dark and thick).  After this point, turn the temp down to either 250 or 225 (depending on how soon you would like the pork to cook but lower is better) and re-cover.

The stall-point is the point where the pork reaches between 160-170 degrees and either stays there for a while or quickly overcomes that temp and climbs to final cooking temperature (around 203 degrees).  If you want to overcome this stall-point more quickly, the pork can be tightly wrapped in aluminum foil (IE: Texas crutch).

To see when pork is done, check the temperature at all parts of the pork to ensure it is at least 203 everywhere.  Another way to check for doneness is that the thermometer going into the pork should feel like jello (no resistance).  Lastly, another way to test for doneness is that the bone should pull right out of the pork (mostly clean with little resistance).

I've had some porks cook within 5-6 hours and other takes a lot longer than that.  These could all be the same size porks but each cook acts differently.  I believe this is due to the make-up of the pork (how much fat and connective tissue it contains) and how long it takes for it to break-down.  I'm sure the rub mixture and/or vinegar (in the mustard) contributes to how the pork breaks down too (and how long it marinates).  Each rub has different combinations of ingredients so that may contribute to the differences in cook-times as well.

When the pork was finished, I waited a little bit of time for it to cook so I could pull it.  I made sure there were no tough pieces or anything overly fatty.  A little bit of fat is good for moistness in my opinion.  

The mixture of seasonings and mustard are the same things that are put into a good BBQ sauce.  With this recipe, the sauce was flavorful.  

Here is a timeline of the last pork I did.  It was a 3-pound Boston Butt (bone-in).


Day Before (approximately 24 hours before pork is to go in smoker)

Mustard and seasonings are lathered in on pork.  It is covered in the refrigerator

Day of Cook

10AM- Smoker is preheated to 275 degrees

10:30AM- Pork added in aluminum pan (uncovered).  Apple wood chips are added and drip pan is filled with apple/water.

1:30PM- Around this time, some steam is seen exiting the top holes in the smoker and I am getting a nice fragrance related to the smokiness and seasonings on the pork.  This is also the time that the bark is properly formed.  Temp is decreased to either 225 or 250.  Pork is re-covered to prevent bark from becoming too dry/burnt.

3:00PM- Around this time, the pork was showing a temp of about 160 degrees.  This was the beginning of the stall.

4:30PM- The temp was showing around 170 degrees meaning we were overcoming the stall.  The smoker temp was increased to approximately 275 at this point in the thought that the pork may be finished by early evening (this wasn't to be).

7:30PM- Around this time, the pork was showing the temperature of 203 throughout. It was time for it to cool down so I could pull it.

9:00PM- Pork is now pulled and mixed around in the sauce/seasonings.

Full Recipe

Boston Butt (Bone-in)
Yellow Mustard
Favorite BBQ Seasonings/Rubs
Brown Sugar (depending on if BBQ seasonings/rubs contain a lot of sugar)

Note: the videos that are shown are from a previous cook I did but the concepts are the same.

1.  Cut the fat cap off of the pork.  If there is any excess fat in the middle of the pork, this can be removed as well.  I did not have to remove anything in them middle for the most recent cook.

2.  A mustard lather is rubbed on all sides of the pork.  BBQ rubs/seasonings are put on top which will form the bark later.  Optionally, you can add more brown sugar if you want more sweetness.

3.  Cover this and put it in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

4.  Preheat smoker to 275.  Once smoker is preheated, add pork, wood chips and water/apple juice to drip pan.  I leave pork uncovered at this point.

Note: You can also do this in an oven but wouldn't get the same smoky flavor.

5.  After a few hours, the bark will start to form.  I will attempt to get a picture of this the next time I update this article.  The temp can be turned down to 225 or 250 at this point and the pork recovered with aluminum foil.

6.  Periodically check the pork to get the temperature.  If between 160 and 170 degrees, you can do a few things if you want to speed things up:

A.  Use Texas crutch (tightly wrap pork in aluminum foil) while keeping temp the same
B.  Crank up the heat back to 275 or so (leaving pork covered)

7.  Once the pork reaches around 203 degrees throughout, let it cool.  Some other indications of doneness are as follows:

A.  Pork feels like jello throughout (no resistance)
B.  Bone pulls out mostly clean with no resistance.

8.  Once the pork cools, it can be pulled.

9.  Depending on the flavors you like in the sauce, you can add other ingredients.  The last cook I did, nothing additional was added.

Some ideas on other ingredients to add are as follows:

A.  Tomato sauce
B.  Canned BBQ Sauce
C.  Apple Juice
D.  Ketchup
E.  Orange Juice or some other citrus juice