Great when sliced for the plate or sandwiches, this smoked Boston butt recipe is cooked for less time than most other pork roast recipes. Instead of cooking to the typical 190-200 degrees needed for pulled pork, this one is cooked just up to the safe minimum temperature for pork specified by the USDA.
To lessen cooking time even more, start out with a smaller size roast or cut a larger one into sections. Smaller, thinner cuts of meat just plain cook quicker!
Boston butt goes by several other names, depending on which part of the country you're located. You might know it as pork picnic roast, shoulder blade roast, or pork shoulder. They can be boneless or bone-in. For this recipe, I chose a boneless roast.
Trim some of the excess fat off the roast and score the remaining fat on top in a criss-cross pattern. Doing this will let the flavors of smoke and the butt rub mixture reach the meat. It speeds up melting of the fat a bit, too. And as that fat melts, it bastes the meat with flavor.
To shorten cooking time in the smoker, cut the pork roast into two or three sections. This provides the added bonus of giving each piece a more concentrated flavor from the seasonings and smoke.
Combine the pork rub ingredients. Rub the yellow mustard onto the roast, then season all sides of the Boston butt with the rub mixture. Larger pieces of pork roast can handle a heavier coating of the rub.
Smaller pieces can be over-seasoned easily, so be light-handed with the rub if the pieces of pork are small. Allow the seasoned pork to rest as you set up your smoker.
For pork, hickory is a great choice, but apple or pecan will add great smoke flavor too. Use about a cup of wood chips or a 2x2x2 chunk of wood to start. One more addition of smoker wood after the first hour will give plenty of smokiness to your roast.
The smoked Boston butt should be cooked until the internal temperature reaches just 145 degrees Fahrenheit. This isn't cooked to fall-apart tenderness, but it is cooked to its minimum safe done temperature. Cooked like this, the meat will be tender and juicy and full of lively smoke flavor.
It's not a problem cooking the roast to a higher internal temperature if you prefer it more well-done, but let it go no higher than 160 degrees for the best quality.
If you'd rather have a pulled pork for sandwiches, you only need to make a few changes to this recipe. Smoking time will definitely be longer, and wrapping the Boston butt in foil will speed things up. And after it's done, a resting period will make the butt more juicy and easier to shred.
When the internal temperature reaches 150-160 degrees, wrap the butt tightly in aluminum foil. Doing this traps the moisture that would otherwise evaporate from the butt, which causes the meat temperature rise to stall. After the meat's wrapped, you don't need to add any more smoker wood to your smoker.
Continue smoking the Boston Butt until its internal temperature reaches 200 degrees. At that point, wrap it in a towel and place it in a clean, dry cooler. Allow it to rest for up to four hours (longer is better), before shredding it into pulled pork.