When I think pork butt I am thinking about slow smoked pulled pork. I spent a lot of time fiddling around with different rub recipes until I realized that the dry rub was just one part of the three part equation.
The trick to great pulled pork is to realize that the dry rub will only season the outer half inch of the pork butt. Considering that most butts are a 6×5 inch cube of meat it is apparent that the dry rub will only flavor a small fraction of the meat if you simply rub it onto the surface.
I found that I need to inject the butt with a 1:1 mix of apple juice and chicken broth with either some brown sugar, honey or maple syrup added for good measure. This makes sure that this thick piece of meat is seasoned all the way through. How much should you inject? As much as the butt will hold. Make sure you let the butt rest for a few hours after injecting to let the liquids equilibrate throughout the meat.
When it is time to apply the rub I like to increase the surface area of the butt by scoring the surface of the meat at least 1/2 inch deep into a diamond pattern. This will allow for he formation of three times as much bark than if the rub was applied directly to the unscored surface.
My butt rub is pretty simple and contains:
- 6 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons black pepper.
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
I will smoke a 5-6 pound butt at 275F for about six hours. I will then place the butt in aluminum foil with a 1/2 cup of apple juice and put it back on the pit for another six hours.
If you are looking for some awesome commercial rubs to try on a pork butt then all of the following are excellent.
Bad Byron’s Butt Rub Silly name, great rub!
Plowboys Yardbird Rub Originally designed for use with chicken but is excellent on butts as well.
Dizzy Pig BBQ All Purpose These guys put out an awesome product that is ALWAYS fresh.
Here is a video from my buddies over at BBQBros.net showing how to smoke a butt on a mini-smoker.