The Best Boston Butt Roast
One of my all time favorite recipes is pulled pork and my go to recipe is normally Kalua Pork but if you’ve ever had a Smoked Boston Butt Roast, you know it’s amazing. I’ve got a really great rub to share with you and, for those that don’t have a smoker, I’m going to teach you how to smoke your butt’s on a gas grill and still get the same results.
What is a Boston Butt
Some people confuse and automatically assume that a Boston Butt Roast is exactly what it sounds like, the butt or bottom muscle of the pig, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s actually the front shoulder above another famous roast portion, the picnic. So, the difference is, the Butt roast is more square and has the shoulder blade bone cut into each portion and the picnic is more like the bicep and forearm(ham hocks) of the front legs. Both cuts of meat, however, make excellent pulled pork.
Apparently, butts are named after the barrels the pork was stored in during the revolutionary war in New England. The barrels themselves were indeed called butts. New England is comprised of six states in the northeastern united states and Boston Massachusetts is considered it’s largest city, Hence, the Boston Butt.
Seasoning a Pork Butt
There are many different ways to prepare a Smoked Boston Butt and no one recipe is the right way. When I think of pork roasts, though, I tend to lean towards my Latin taste buds which pull me towards a spicier more flavorful seasoning. Sure you could go with a classic salt and pepper rub and you would, most likely, get fantastic results. Me, on the other hand, prefer Barbacoa and Chipotle style recipes so, I put together a rub with a little more flare. I use yellow mustard as a binder and several sweet and savory ingredients for color and flavor.
You also have to consider whether or not you want to add any Barbecue Sauce. If you do want to add it, it’s best brush a thin layer over the roast at the time of wrapping in foil. It’s also fairly common unwrap the butt, when it’s done cooking, and glaze it with a thinner sauce. Common glaze’s are generally a mix of barbecue sauce, apple juice, apple cider vinegar and sometimes blended fruits like apricots or peaches. Once a glaze is applied, the Boston Butt Roast is placed back on the grill, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes to caramelize.
Smoking on a gas grill
Thanks to cooking shows on TV and cooking channels, like mine, on YouTube, Barbecue and smoked meats have gained extraordinary popularity. I think that most folks already love a good BBQ but, I’m not really sure that everyone has ever really experienced great barbecue. It was years before I ever really appreciated it. Any meat that came out of my Mom’s kitchen was never grilled and it always chewed like leather or an old shoe. Sadly, other than fish, I had no idea that meat could melt into your mouth until I was literally a full grown man and slow and low is the way to go.
On a gas grill, unless someone is burning the food, there isn’t the luxury of smoke. Without the added flavors, that burning logs, chips, pellets and nitrates the smoke provides, you’re not going to get that infamous “smoke ring” grill masters brag about. The smoke, however, on a gas grill, can still be achieved and I show you how to do it in this video tutorial. What I don’t mention, though, is an alternative.
First know, to achieve smoke, all you have to do is introduce and burn wood chips or pellets inside the barbecue grill itself. I purchased a cheap Smoker Tube from amazon that, very easily, fills with pellets and accomplishes this task. You can, however just wrap wood chips or smoking pellets in a hand made aluminum foil pouch and, with many poked holes in the foil, get the same if not similar results.
The Boston Pork Butt must cook over indirect heat. This means that there mustn’t be a gas burner directly under the meat. My grill, for example has 3 burners. I turn the front one on low and leave the back two off to place the butt over indirect heat. I also add a bowl of water, to regulate humidity and help to keep the roast from drying out. Another step you can take is spritzing the roast, once every hour, with apple juice or apple cider vinegar or a mix of the two in a spray bottle.
I try to maintain a temperature around 275° F on my lowest setting but, on hotter days, sometimes the grill will heat up as high as 325° F so, don’t freak out if yours does. The look of the outside and the actual internal temp of the pork butt is what really matters.
The smoker tube, on average, lasts 2 to 3 hours before more wood chips or pellets need to be added. I only add them once. When the tube burns out the second time, there’s no need for further smoke.
I probe the center of the roast with a thermometer after 4 hours. Once I’ve reached 160° F internal temp, I wrap the Boston Butt in foil and roast until internal temperature reaches 195° F. Then I remove it from the grill and let it rest 20 to 30 minutes before I shred it.
If I wrapped the the butt properly, there won’t be any leakage and there will be a puddle of roast juice in the bottom of the foil when I unwrap it. This juice or Au Jus, if you will, is essential for the pulled pork to reach maximum flavor and it provides a ton of moisture in the meat that keeps it from drying out so, don’t throw it out. If you want to chill it first to remove the heat, that’s fine but poor the whole thing over the shredded pulled pork and turn the pieces over a few times before serving.
If you’re interested in making pulled pork sandwich’s with this recipe, check out my Coleslaw recipe.
Smoked Boston Pork Butt Ingredients:
7.5 lb Boston Pork Butt
3 tbsp Yellow Mustard
Pork But Rub
1/2 cup Smoked Paprika
3 tbsp Kosher Salt
2 tbsp Black Pepper
2 tbsp Brown Sugar
2 tbsp Cumin
1 tbsp Coffee grains
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
Apple Cider Vinegar to Spritze
275° Fahrenheit for approximately 8 hours, total cook time. Wrap in foil at 160°, approximately 4 to 5 hours and cook for an additional 3 hours or until internal temperature reaches 195° F, then remove from the grill and let it rest. After 20 minutes, shred into pulled pork, add the leftover juice from the roast and serve. For more flavor, shake the rub seasoning into the shredded pulled pork.