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Pork Butt Smoking

Updated on July 16, 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words...

Ooooh wee boy!! Now that's some Barbecue!
Ooooh wee boy!! Now that's some Barbecue!

Smoking Meats the "Damn Yankee" Way

I had never heard of "Pig Pickin'" or knew that "barbecue " is a type of food. I always thought that barbecue is what you've done to something. I have much to learn. After visiting some family of my wife on a recent trip, I experienced the joy of "pig pickin'" (pulling the pieces of pork slowly cooked whole, and the only thing they call "barbecue". Read on to learn how to create this incredible food for you and learn from my experiences and all the different sites I visited to gather the best advice. 

You can also follow me on Twitter at ILoveBarbecue

The Beginning of an Obsession

Have you ever visited a family in the south, and were treated to a juicy melt in your mouth pulled pork), BBQ, or if you're lucky, even had a chance to go "pig pickin' "? After a recent trip there, I decided to learn to do it myself because I did not intend to return there anytime soon.

I will guide you through step by step instructions to melt in your mouth barbecue without the help of a smoker. I have a regular charcoal grill with a lid that I use and the results were awesome! Here are some things you want to make sure that you have before the day you will be cooking.

A good thermometer (bi-metal thermometers do not work, nor do the ones on the grills themselves) - candy thermometer (350 degrees max or more) works well, a bag of charcoal at least 3 / 4 (just in case it takes longer than you think), charcoal chimney (without lighter fluid- no bad taste), wood chips or pieces of Hickory, cork, a cheap aluminum pan(pick one up at the dollar store) and cheap yellow mustard. What's yellow mustard doing on pork? Keep reading and find out!

Products You Might be Interested in.

Western South Carolina BBQ sauce just finished...
Western South Carolina BBQ sauce just finished...

Making the Finishing and/or Mopping Sauces

Before doing anything with pork, you want to create your barbecue and/or mop sauces at least 24 hours in advance. Why? Because it gives all the flavors time to mix together and creates a much better sauce. You can do more in advance if you wish - it will store at least one month in the refrigerator.

Now you must understand that there are more variations of sauce than you can imagine. But we will focus on sauces of Carolina because they are the creator of barbecue pork (just "barbecue" to them), and their sauces are impressive.

There are currently five different types of sauce, and depending on which region you are in, you get a different sauce. We have Western Carolina sauce, Lexington Dip, East North Carolina sauce, Mid South Carolina sauce and Western South Carolina sauce.

To my taste, Western Carolina and Lexington sauces are quite close to each other, and I prefer the Lexington dip, so I will skip the Western North Carolina recipe. The first sauce I will give is the Lexington "Dip" Sauce:


1 cup distilled vinegar (do not use cider vinegar)
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients together and put them in a container

Next, Eastern North Carolina Vinegar Sauce---also called the "original sauce". Natives from Eastern North Carolina are don't believe in any other sauces. Slaves created this simple sauce because it was cheap and easy to prepare, and needed no refrigeration. Don't let the simpleness of it fool you---it very well may be the perfect sauce for pork.


1 cup white vinegar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce (e.g. Tabasco%u2122), or to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Put all ingredients into a container and shake vigorously.

Next, here is Mid South Carolina Mustard sauce. People from North Carolina will tell you South Carolinians don't know what barbecue is.  Personally, I am not going to get in the middle of this grudge match, but I do know some people from South Carolina, and that barbecue was amazing.  Their use of mustard based sauces is the main reason, as North Carolina use either ketchup or vinegar based sauces. A mustard lover, I have to admit, it is pretty good though, and being a "damn yankee" as they would say, I have no such inherited dislike for mustard with pork.


1 cup cider vinegar
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey(I like honey)
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce
1 cup vegetable oil(i like olive oil)
2 teaspoons salt
Ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients into a container and mix well

Well, our final sauce, and my personal favorite(sorry North Carolinians), is the Western South Carolina Barbecue sauce, which, crazily enough, is a ketchup based sauce, not a mustard based one. In Georgia and areas further south, they use a thicker ketchup based sauce, and this area of South Carolina has uses an adaptation of it. Yes, it is a ketchup based sauce, but it is a thick sauce, not a thin ketchup based sauce like Western North Carolina or Lexington "Dip".  The flavors were just amazing with the pork, and. the majority of the people I had over for the party where I made all of the these sauces, liked this one the best:


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion
2 medium garlic cloves
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup ketchup

Either mince or food process the onions or garlic until it is very chopped up(almost a runny consistency), and heat in a medium saucepan with the oil until they grow soft and translucent in color. Toss in all the other ingredients besides the ketchup and bring to a boil. Once it hits a boil, turn down the heat and mix in the ketchup, which will cause it to thicken as it cools down. Let simmer for about 5 minutes, then put in container.

Barbecue Sauces in case you don't have time to make your own

Boston Butt is from the shoulder of the pig
Boston Butt is from the shoulder of the pig

The rub of it all...

OK! That was a lot to take in, but we are just getting started here! Onto the pork You will want to get what is called a pork butt, pork shoulder, or Boston Butt. Always make sure it has the bone still in it(should say "bone-in"). It will help maintain shape while cooking. I usually look for an 8-10lb butt, because I like lots of leftovers, but you can get a smaller one if you like.

But remember, the larger it is, the more time it will take to cook. You are going to want to put a blend of spices on the pork butt called a rub before cooking. It gives the pork butt a great flavor and helps keep it juicy while cooking it. The night before is when the rub should be put on, to give it maximum time to flavor the meat thoroughly.

The ingredients for the rub are as follows:

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup paprika
1/3 cup garlic salt
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper

Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix them up well.

Before putting the rub on, you are going to want  to take  the Pork Butt out and put a nice layer of yellow mustard on it---top, sides and bottom should all be covered in yellow mustard. Why? Well there are a couple of reasons.

One, the mustard acts as a nice layer for the rub to stick to. Two, it helps make a  "bark", which are the crispy outer portions of the meat that have the most flavor. Lastly, gives no flavor to the meat. So spread on the mustard! Spread the rub all over the meat(and I mean all over). Wash your hands to make sure you do not spread food related illness, as you are dealing with raw meat. Make sure you put the pork butt on a tray, put some cling wrap on it and then put it in the refrigerator to sit overnight.

Soaking your hickory chips or chunks.
Soaking your hickory chips or chunks.

Night Before Preparations

Grab a large bowl and fill it with water (can use a little white vinegar instead of using water). Take your chips or hickory chunks and soak them overnight in the bowl. This is to prevent the wood from burning too fast and too hot, and allows the wood to soak in the water or vinegar. You can not have a good smoke if the wood is too dry. Now you are ready to go to bed and get up early in the morning for a barbecue.

Yes, you will be spending most of the day cooking, but the end result is well worth the effort! You are going to need to give yourself time to cook(at least one hour per pound), and an additional hour to allow the pork butt to rest after the meat is cooked. This helps to allow the meat to render more and "aftercook". Do not be too excited to sleep. You need to rest so you can be fully prepared and alert!

The finished product...yummy!
The finished product...yummy!

Cooking, Finishing and Eating!

This article has gotten you up to the point of actually doing the cooking of the pork, which will take us to the main article where I explain in detail how to go about perfectly cooking and finishing your pork butt, and some great tips on how to serve it up!

Check it out at my Pork Butt Smoking site, which takes you from start to finish!

Looking to master the secrets of barbecue?  Learn the Secrets of the BBQ Competition Masters!


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    • easyfreerecipes profile image

      easyfreerecipes 7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      detailed and helpful, just the way i like them. this sounds delicious, always been a favorite of mine.

    • ExpandYourMind profile image

      ExpandYourMind 7 years ago from Midwest USA

      Yum. Thanks for sharing cooking-smokin' tips and the recipes. I tend to buy the bottle--but now I will try one of your sauces.

    • Michael Adams1959 profile image

      Michael Adams1959 7 years ago from Wherever God leads us.

      Oh, man, you're hittin' me right in the gut with this, i love pork butts slow smoked and dabble in it myself. Hopefully this next year I get my smoker to start in competitions Great hub thanks for sharing!

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 7 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Interesting and useful. I may even try it when all my family gets together. Thanks!