This pork butt (Boston butt) was cooked low and slow for perfect pulled pork tacos
What better reason to cook a pork butt than for some delicious smoked pulled pork tacos? You could, of course, make pulled pork in a slow cooker or even an Instant Pot as well. But it would be missing that wonderful smoke flavour. Also, when you cook low and slow on a smoker for a long time, the fat renders down to create amazing juicy meat for your tacos!
How long does it take to smoke a pork butt?
Today’s pork butt was in the smoker for 14 hours. Depending on the size of the pork butt, you’re looking at anywhere between 8 and 14 hours. Ours cooked at 225 ºF the entire time.
14 hours sounds like a crazy amount of work, but it’s really not. Once the pork butt is placed in the smoker, there’s very little work to do other then monitoring it and wrapping it half way through the cook.
There’s even less work when you’re using a high tech bluetooth-enabled smoker like the Broil King Baron 400 Smoker and Grill. I can be busy binge-watching Netflix, and check the meat’s internal temperature on my iPhone, from the comfort of my sofa. I can even change the cooking temperature from the app! Crazy, right?
Why wrap the pork butt during smoking?
It’s all about the juices! You might be able to get by without this step, but I highly recommend that you not skip this! In my personal opinion, this is key for perfect juicy pulled pork.
The meat is fully cooked when the pork butt reaches 160 ºF. At this stage though, the fat hasn’t rendered yet. This means that it’s perfectly safe to eat, but not ready to easily pull apart, and it’s definitely not super juicy yet.
During the cooking process, fat will break down between 160 ºF and 200 ºF. This is where the juice magic happens so you’ll want to capture the juices and rendered fat. Most of this moisture will be re-introduced into the meat after shredding the pork.
In our recipe, and many other smoked pork butt recipes, you wrap the piece of meat once the internal temperature reaches 160 ºF. For our wrap, we did a first wrap in parchment paper, and then a second wrap/layer of aluminum foil. The foil needs to be cut in large sheets with no seams at the bottom so that it’s like a bowl and the juices won’t leak out the bottom or sides. Do not loose the magic. I repeat, do NOT loose the magic.
Pulled pork is perfect for leftovers!
Given that we can’t currently have guests over because of the lockdown, we had a lot of leftovers! The great thing about pulled pork leftovers is that none of it has to go to waste. I used ours in a soup, and we had tacos two more times during the week. You could also add the pulled pork to pizza, sandwiches, shepard’s pie, and so much more.
Pulled pork also freezes well. Make sure to freeze it with some of the juices, to add moisture when you reheat the meat.
There’s something so satisfying about smoking foods
I grill foods on our propane BBQ all the time. If you’ve followed us for a while, you know we don’t believe in a BBQ season–we grill year-round. But there’s something extra special about a long cook on the smoker. It’s an event! Even though we’re cooking with a super high tech unit with electricity, wood pellets, bluetooth and a smartphone, it still feels so “caveman” to cook a large piece of meet using burning wood and smoke. 😂
If you’ve never smoked foods, why not start this year? So many people have taken up new hobbies like knitting, learning new languages, wood working, and yes, cooking. Why not add smoking to the list? I mean, as a cooking technique, of course. Smoke something (don’t take that out of context 😂) and make today yummy!
Smoked pulled pork on a pellet smoker
- 11 lbs or 5 kg pork butt
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard
- 1 lime cut in half
- Corn or flour tortillas
- 4 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 1/2 tbsp course kosher salt
- 2 1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 1/4 cups beef or chicken broth
- 1 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
- Hot peppers
- Hot sauce
- Chopped onion
- Lime wedges
- The night before smoking the pork butt mix together the rub spices, and set aside.
- Place the pork butt on a large baking sheet, fat cap facing up.
- Using clean hands, coat the entire pork butt with the mustard.
- Sprinkle the rub seasoning evenly around the entire pork but, making sure to coat it all.
- Pat down the seasoning to make sure it’s stuck to the mustard.
- Loosely tent the pork butt with aluminum foil and place the baking sheet with the meat in the fridge.
- The cook will take roughly 10 to 14 hours, give or take an hour or two.
- I woke up at 6 am to start up our Broil King Baron 400 Smoker and Grill.
- Fill up the hopper with your favourite wood pellets. We used Broil King Smoke Master’s Blend, with Maple, Hickory and Cherry wood.
- Set the smoker to 225 ºF.
- Once the smoker has reached its temperature, place the pork butt on the grates, fat cap side up.
- Poke the electronic meat probes into the meat, one on each side. Make sure not to touch the bone with the probes.
- Remember, you can monitor the probe temperatures from the Broil King app on your smart phone.
- Close the lid and wait for the magic to start happening.
- Combine the broth and apple cider in a clean spray bottle.
- At this stage you’ll be monitoring the smoker temperature, using the probes, and spraying some of the vinegar/broth mixture over and around the pork butt roughly every hour.
- Make sure to check the hopper every few hours to ensure you have enough wood pellets in the hopper.
- When the probes in the meat reach roughly 155 ºF, prepare a wrap for the pork butt.
- Place a large piece of tin foil on a large baking sheet (shiny side down, touching the baking sheet). The sheet should be large enough to cover the full piece of meat. There should be no seams or openings at the bottom, otherwise the liquids will leak out.
- Place a large (or two) piece(s) of parchment paper on top off the tin foil.
- Spray the top of the parchment paper with the vinegar/broth mixture.
- Once the probes reach 160 ºF, quickly open the smoker lid and place the meat on the parchment paper.
- Tightly wrap the meat in the parchment paper, then repeat the wrapping step with the tin foil (meat wrapped in parchment, and then wrapped in foil). Both wraps should be tight, and make sure to avoid any tearing.
- Place the wrapped pork butt back on the smoker grates.
- Stick the probes back into the meet (not touching the bone) on both ends to help monitor your cook temperature.
- Close the lid.
- Make sure the smoker is still set to 225 ºF and let it continue to cook.
- Once the temperate reaches 200 to 205 ºF, remove the pork butt from the smoker and let it rest for 30 minutes, while still wrapped.
- Carefully open the wrap from the top, being careful not to let the juices spill out.
- Discard the large bone.
- Use two large forks or pulled pork claws to transfer chunks of the meat to a large bowl or other deep container.
- Shred the meat using the forks/claws.
- Repeat until all of the meat is shredded.
- You should at this point have a lot of liquid at the bottom of the foil.
- Empty these juices into a large measuring cup or a small bowl, set aside to cool.
- Pre-heat your oven on the broiler setting.
- Move the shredded meat to a large baking or cooking dish, like a pyrex.
- Back to the measuring cup with the juices, skim half the fat off the top, and discard the skimmed fat.
- Pour the remaining liquid evenly over the shredded pulled pork.
- Place the cooking dish in the hot oven and cook for 5 to 10 minutes on high, or until some of the shredded meat edges crisp up.
- Remove the pulled pork from the oven, and squeeze the lime juice evenly over the meat.
- Serve with corn or flour tortillas, chopped onion, hot peppers, hot sauce, cilantro or any other favourite sides.
- The leftovers freeze well for future use.
- You can use leftover pulled pork for pizza, Shepard’s pie, sandwiches and more.
- Another timing option is to start the cook at night and wake up 5 or 5 times during the night to monitor the meat temperature, spray the pork butt, add wood pellets and wrap the meat.