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Behold My Butt! (2007– )

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It turned out beautifully. I took it off the smoker after roughly ten or eleven hours when the internal temp hit 190F. The rub added a lot of flavor without overpowering the pork at all. I mentioned earlier that I made rolls for sandwiches, which my wife and I ate last night. However, I served regular old hamburger buns today when company came over and the sandwiches were actually better, in my opinion. Homemade buns might just be overkill when it comes to pulled pork sandwiches.

Here are some pictures of the finished product:

Resting after being pulled from the smoker

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In the middle of pulling a pile of pork

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Last night's dinner - this one with coleslaw, the second without (no pics of that one)

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Overall it was a success, and I think I prefer a rubbed butt to a brined butt. Everyone really liked the food tonight, including my friend's usually picky six-year-old and teenager (who went back for a third sandwich after a short break). I guess few can resist the lure of smoked pig!

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KeyStoneNate, your butt is a thing of beauty. And, yes, squishy supermarket hamburger buns are the way to go (along with slaw).

This reminds me that I STILL have a butt in the freezer. Time to get some more charcoal and get one of the kids to chop some of the wood in the garage.

BTW, could you please describe your smoking rig? It's looking mighty familiar to the Queen of the Trusty Old Kettle!

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We're going to be spending the summer back home in the US, and I have to admit that one of the big draws was the promise of getting reacquainted with my smoker. There's nothing like tending a smoker on a warm summer morning to make one glad to be a carnivore.

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BTW, could you please describe your smoking rig?  It's looking mighty familiar to the Queen of the Trusty Old Kettle!

My setup is just a regular old Weber kettle (the 22.5 inch model) - just like yours, from what I can tell from the pictures you've posted. I have the grill grate with the flaps on the side that lift up for ease of adding more charcoal and wood pieces. I had the grill before I read this thread, and after reading other success stories about smoking with a kettle grill, I had to give it a shot. It's easy to maintain a low temp with the bottom and top vents just partially open. Again, thanks to everyone on this thread for the tips and instructions!

I'm fortunate to live in an area with many apple orchards, so access to apple wood is not a problem. The only wood I can find in stores is mesquite and hickory, but I think the smoke from fruit wood is not quite as harsh - maybe it's all in my head, I don't know. I only used one piece of a quartered log and it lasted all day. Unfortunately I had to toss the whole thing in at once because I didn't have the right tools to make it any smaller. I had grand ideas of using a handsaw and hatchet to break the log down into more manageable pieces, but after thirty minutes of frustratingly slow progress, I just tossed the log in a bucket of water to soak overnight, after making sure it would fit in the kettle for the next morning.

There's nothing like tending a smoker on a warm summer morning to make one glad to be a carnivore.

I totally agree! It's the perfect way to start the day.


Edited by KeystoneNate (log)

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Last night's dinner - this one with coleslaw, the second without (no pics of that one)

gallery_60841_6519_51078.jpg

Soul on a roll! Looks terrific, Nate.

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Looks great, Nate.

We rubbed a big butt and a little butt (5.5 and 4.5 pounds, bone-in) with Mike Mills’ “magic dust” (paprika, mustard powder, chilli powder, cumin, black pepper, granulated garlic, cayenne, sugar, and salt). The butts rested in the refrigerator overnight and went on the WSM around midnight (Minion method, hickory smokewood). In rain and gusty winds, keeping the fire stable proved difficult.

Around mid-morning I gave up, wrapped the butts in foil, and popped them into a 250F oven. They reached 195F after about 16 hours, so I rested the butts in the turned-off oven. The pork pulled like cotton candy. The family and four guests devoured the big butt, making pulled pork banh mi, pulled pork salad, or traditional pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw. The fixings:

Mustardy coleslaw

North Carolina-style vinegary barbecue sauce

Quick-pickled bean sprouts and carrots

Mrs. C’s Asian salad

Potato rolls

Hard rolls

Liver pate

Sliced cucumbers

Sliced jalapenos

Cilantro sprigs

Mayonnaise

Maggi sauce

Mrs. C and her somewhat reluctant sous chefs grilled steelhead trout slathered with mustard-mayo-dill sauce; fried polenta with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and herbs; and roasted vegetables that had been tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Guests brought red wine, Russian blini (thin crepes), and jam. For dessert, Mrs. C and da boyz made a nontraditional trifle with fruit, madelines, and maraschino liqueur. :wub:

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I will have to construct this from memory, as my father used to cook pork shoulders, ribs and chickens with this method of barbecue (altering the times as needed for doneness). It involved an on-the-ground barbecue pit, but could, I suspect, be done with a smoker; I have his sheet-metal pit he fabricated (he was a welder) with 2-foot by 3-foot expanded metal racks for grilling and turning. The rack rests about 20 inches above the coals. The second rack is used to put on top of the meat, extended handles on each side grasped (arms crossed first) by one person on each side, so the meat can be flipped.

It has a thermometer in the lid so one could keep track of the inside temperature, and the temperature was regulated by removing the "door" on one end and shoveling in coals from a hickory wood fire kept burning nearby for that purpose.

The racks would accommodate four shoulders, and that is usually what we would cook as we only did this for a BIG crowd or for church events, etc. I've done it on a smaller scale with one shoulder, and it should work just fine with butts by adjusting the time. You can also adjust the time and do chicken halves or quarters, or ribs.

Put two or three shovelsful of coals into the pit, and monitor until the temperature is steady at 180 degrees. You may have to add more coals, or remove some coals, to get the temperature steady. When it is, put the plain, unrubbed, unbrined shoulders on the rack, fat side down; cover, keep the temp at 180 for two hours. Flip the rack, and baste the shoulders (a cotton dish mop is the best implement for this) with a sauce made of corn oil, cider vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne, and paprika (and, I suppose, anything else you've a mind to put in it; I think one could do a great Cuban style barbecue by adding lime and upping the garlic) in proportions to your liking.

From this point, the shoulders should be flipped and basted hourly. Temperature should stay at 180 for the first six hours; 200 for the next four; 220 for the next four; and 250 for the final two to three, to put a nice deep crust on it. It's done when the bone wiggles freely.

Remove, pull, and serve with a tomato-pepper based sauce. (When we'd do four shoulders, we'd use an ice chest to pull it in; kept it warm until it was served.) Wear heavy rubber gloves; should be pulled by hand while hot; with four shoulders, it'd take all day to pull it with forks.

Our classic sides were potato salad, roast corn on the cob, baked beans, yellow coleslaw made with oil, vinegar, onion, bell pepper, carrots, celery seed, dry mustard and turmeric at least two days in advance. Gallons of iced tea and fresh lemonade (the family was generally teetotalling; I've supplemented that with an ice chest full of cold beer), and a couple of freezers of homemade ice cream. In the back yard, under the maple trees.

For pork shoulders, due to the time involved, we'd generally start them about 8 p.m. to serve them at noon the next day. The helpful way to do this is with shifts of folks, else the two who cook are not worth much the next day. Daddy always took the first and last shift, to monitor progress. The "graveyard" shift always involved numerous thermoses of coffee to help stay awake.

It freezes well, particularly if you have a vacuum sealer.

Few memories of my growing up are as fond as that one.

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My first attempt at a smoked butt. The 4 lb butt was given a rub and smoked on my electric smoker for around 8 hours at 250* over hickory and pecan wood. The internal temperature was 198* before resting, then pulled. gallery_6878_3484_93899.jpg

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Perusing recent photos, I came to a realization about topping the meat. I admit to liking the crunch but preferring a more vinegary, no-mayo slaw.

How about you? Mayonnaise-based slaw slathered on your butt: yes? no?

And I should stop and get a couple of butts this afternoon, shouldn't I?

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I never understood the idea behind putting cole slaw on a pulled pork sandwich. As many recipes as I have read and as many BBQ cookoffs I have watched, it just did not make sense to me. And then I tasted it . I was won over. It is truely delicious. I make trhe cole slaw for pulled pork with mayo, although a whole lot. I also add Nam Plac (That is probably not spelled correctly.) or rice vinegar so that it does have a tang to it. Howver, the mayo mixing with the BBQ sauce is really wonderful. I make a tomato based BBQ sauce from Marlene Spieler who writes for the San Francisco Chronicle. She calls it "She Devil Sauce". It is a chipotle BBQ sauce. The mixing of the tomato and the mayo is what I like. I also make a mustard based sauce that is on the eGullet site to serve with the pork. It is a wonderful recipe. Nice tang. Great flavors. The cole slaw, however, tends to go better with the other sauce. maybe because of the tomatoes.

By all means, get the pork butts. Sounds like I need to do the same.

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Perusing recent photos, I came to a realization about topping the meat. I admit to liking the crunch but preferring a more vinegary, no-mayo slaw.

How about you? Mayonnaise-based slaw slathered on your butt: yes? no?

I like both kinds of slaw, though I probably prefer the vinegary version. Slap that on a bun with some butt and you've got something approaching a BBQ banh mi.

And I should stop and get a couple of butts this afternoon, shouldn't I?

Look deep into your heart. You know the answer already.

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Perusing recent photos, I came to a realization about topping the meat. I admit to liking the crunch but preferring a more vinegary, no-mayo slaw.

How about you? Mayonnaise-based slaw slathered on your butt: yes? no?

And I should stop and get a couple of butts this afternoon, shouldn't I?

The vinegar based slaw is the way to go here. However I must confess. I'd rather my slaw be on the side. If somebody offered me the above pictured sandwich I'd happily eat the damn thing. But if making it myself, I'd put the slaw on the side. My North Carolina BBQ friends love the slaw on their sandwiches. I salute them for it. I hope my not preferring it that way does not brand me as a pork heretic

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I think a no-mayo coleslaw is best for pulled pork sandwiches. I wasn't a huge believer of coleslaw on pork until a local barbecue joint opened (but has since closed, unfortunately) and I had one of their sandwiches with slaw.

My wife also prefers a vinegar-based slaw over the mayo variety anyway, so that's what I usually make. I like both versions, but for a pulled pork sandwich, the vinegary slaw wins my vote. The pork is deliciously fatty as it is, I don't think the mayo enhances that at all.

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I agree entirely with KeystoneNate. Considering that the Carolinas are famous for vinegar-based sauces with pork, it seems only natural to top a pulled pork sammy with a vinegar-based slaw. You don't see them seasoning/saucing their BBQ with fucking mayo, now do you? It just don't work. :)

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The homeboys came to town for a few rounds of disc golf. To feed them, I smeared two pork butts with mustard sauce before sprinkling on the rub, and then smoked the butts overnight with hickory smokewood. In the morning I basted the pork and added a fresh load of hot coals. While we were flinging plastic, Mrs. C basted the butts, finished them in a low oven, and then wrapped them in foil and held them in a cooler until we returned. Elder son proclaimed the pork “the best ever.”

Props to Mayhaw Man for his Western NC BBQ sauce replica (clicky). Excellent stuff, and more than half disappeared.

It rained steadily through the day, so we arrived home cold and soggy. Mrs. C greeted us with hot coffee, mulled cider (spiked with white wine), and a roaring fire, all much appreciated :wub: . The menu (simple but effective):

Pulled pig sandwiches

Vinegar and mustard slaw (with a little mayo - sorry, that's how I like it :raz: )

Western NC BBQ sauce replica

Mrs. C's devilled eggs (edited to add this - how could I forget?)

Assorted chips and store-bought hummus

Assorted beer and wine

S’mores for dessert, with younger son manning the fire pit


Edited by C. sapidus (log)

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After reading this damn thread, I have had my head turned completely! I am someone who has never ever cooked anything on a BBQ, in fact never owned any kind of a BBQ. But all this talk of butt got my curiosity going and rashly, I went and bought a Weber kettle and invited some friends over for a BBQ. I had anticipated going to my butchers yesterday to get a pork shoulder ("butt"?), but ended up going on a picnic instead. By the time I got back, butcher was closed. Cue panic today morning and a trip to the only supermarket open at 8.30 a.m.

First problem: they did not have anything other than boneless pork shoulder - so I came home with a 2.5kg joint. Hmmm... not a lot on this thread about boneless joints.....guess I'll have to wing it.

Second problem: My "premium" Weber briquette would not get going with just scrunched-up paper and firelighter. Panic. Urgent call to experienced bbq'er and some non-premium brquettes later, had a semblance of a fire going.

Third problem: How to maintain temperature at 125-130C? No easy answers despite googling. Ah well, maybe this bbq lark is not as straightforward as my learned frends on this thread have been making out.....

First solution : Plenty of beer. No longer so stressed out over lack of temperature control. Fluctuating between 120C and 180C.

In the meantime made a start with =Marks BBQ sauce. Sceptical at the amount of prepared mustard in the recipe (used Dijon mustard). There was no cider vinegar in the pantry so used malt vinegar instead. Finished the simmering and added juice of one lime - hmmm.....

After nearly 5 hours, got my butt out (internal temperature 190F), wrapped it in foil and let it rest. "Pulled" it onto a serving dish.

Some had it with =Marks sauce, cruncy lettuce and others with creamy mayo.

OMG. The combination of pork, crunchy lettuce and =Marks' sauce resulted in a group-wide epiphany.

With a bone-in butt and a longer smoking time (if I can figure out how to keep the Weber at a constant temperature), I can only imagine it must be way more tender.

Thanks to all on this thread who have provided the inspiration to start me down the BBQ path.... I'm a believer!

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First problem: they did not have anything other than boneless pork shoulder - so I came home with a 2.5kg joint. Hmmm... not a lot on this thread about boneless joints.....guess I'll have to wing it.

Just be sure to tie it, or else suffer the horror of the exposed butt crack.

After nearly 5 hours, got my butt out (internal temperature 190F), wrapped it in foil and let it rest. "Pulled" it onto a serving dish.

Given your comment about tenderness, I must ask: did it really pull? If not, you may have needed to let it get up above 200F. You want that ropy collapse; you shouldn't have to do much besides squeeze the meat between your fingers to get it to separate into strands.

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Chris, I don't think it quite pulled - I had to use more force than I suspect should be needed to shred it. Still tasted pretty good though :smile:.

What does the internal temperature need to get to? and how does one ensure that one's Weber kettle stays at approx 120C for 6-8 hours.

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Over 200F for sure, but it's a feel and not a temp thing: it pulls when it pulls. That's one of the benefits of a bone: when you can rotate the bone in its socket, you're done.

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and how does one ensure that one's Weber kettle stays at approx 120C for 6-8 hours.

I've had luck with opening the bottom vent about a quarter of its full open setting. I do the same with the top vent, then adjust the top vent as needed. A half to three-quarter chimney of charcoal is enough to get started, then I throw another unlit handful in every couple of hours. If it's not too windy, the temp stays pretty constant. Keeping the vents just barely open helps hold the temp low, although closing them too far chokes the fire. Trial and error is your best bet!


Edited by KeystoneNate (log)

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Thanks, KeystoneNate. I'll give your suggestion a try.

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Whole Foods was selling butts for the first time I've ever seen -- and on sale to boot. Skin-on, bone-in beauts: I had to buy two. Prepared them as discussed here, with a few tweaks:

  • While in Douglas AZ I scored some amazing chili powder (a mix of NM and Ancho, if I had to guess) that I used instead of the other chiles. I also added asafoetida on a lark, which is overwhelming when you smell it but melds into the background nicely as the pork cooks.
  • I'm a bit more puck-conscious nowadays than I have been previously. So I loaded up the Bradley with the two butts and some tasso and got them all smoking with hickory pucks. As soon as the butts hit 140F, I pulled them out of the Bradley and let them finish in a 225F oven covered with loose foil. Took probably about another eight hours or so.
  • Finishing in the oven had an unintended benefit: a cup or so of bright orange rendered lard. It's smoky, salty, and utterly delicious.

Dinner tonight with some buns, the ever-popular mustard sauce, some beans, and a few quick cucumber pickles. Most of it is going into the freezer for later this summer.

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Finishing in the oven had an unintended benefit: a cup or so of bright orange rendered lard. It's smoky, salty, and utterly delicious.

Absolutely the #1 reason to finish in the oven (though the convenience and cost-effectiveness is a close #2). I used the drippings in my BBQ sauce yesterday and I dare say it was the tastiest pulled pork I've ever made.

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