If you're a ceramic cooker owner than Smoke it Like a Pro (Page Street Press 2015) is a must as Eric Mitchell of team Yabba Dabba Que shares his secrets for turning out award winning dishes including this one for his competition-style smoked pork butt.
COMPETITION BOSTON PORK BUTT
1 (8- to 10-pound [3640 to 4500g]) bone-in pork butt
¼ cup (60ml) yellow mustard
1 cup (120g) Pork Rub (page 208)
½ cup (120ml) apple juice or apple cider
¼ cup (60ml) pork marinade (such as Stubb’s Pork Marinade®), strained
¼ cup (60ml) maple syrup
½ cup (120ml) barbecue sauce
When choosing a competition pork butt, find one that is relatively square with a consistent thickness. Opposite the bone end is the “money muscle.” It is called the money muscle because, when cooked correctly and sliced separately to put in the “turn-in” box at competitions, it has a great pork flavor and a soft but not mushy texture that will melt in your mouth. For competition, it’s money!
The money muscle is a separate, tube-shaped muscle about 1½ to 2 inches (4 to 5cm) in diameter. The part you can see is more pink than deep red and has very narrow bands of fat along the tube, about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart.
The butt will have a fat cap on the top and no fat on the bottom. Trim down the fat cap to about ¼ inch (6mm). Feel the underside of the entire butt with the tips of your fingers to check for bone shards that may have been left during butchering. Remove any bone pieces and sinew.
For competition, I partially separate the muscle pieces around the bone end, starting from the bottom, using my fingers to break the connective tissue, going side to side to push apart the muscle. Next, using a boning knife, I remove the membrane that once connected all the muscles. Cleaning out the membrane gives more surface to add rub and eliminates the need to peel off the cooked membrane prior to turn-in. When you do this, be careful not to completely separate the muscles! In competition cooking, pork butt must be cooked whole, not separated. On the opposite end of the butt, partially separate the muscle the same way. There is usually some very hard fat at one end of the muscle, which should also be removed.
Add a slather of prepared yellow mustard to all exposed meat, including the crevices. The mustard will hold the rub and will not leave any flavor once the pork is cooked. Generously rub the butt, including crevices, with pork rub. Now it can be wrapped and refrigerated for several hours until ready to barbecue.
Set the Egg for 275°F (135°C) indirect with a drip pan, filling with charcoal to the top of the firebox. With the top and bottom vents wide open, light the fire and close the Egg. When the dome temperature gets up to about 250°F (121°C), about 10 minutes, close the bottom screen. When the dome temperature approaches 275°F (135°C), about 5 minutes, slide the top of the daisy wheel closed, leaving the petals halfway open.
Prior to adding the meat, put in three chunks of hickory and two chunks of pecan. Initially, there will be very white, billowing smoke. This is bad, bitter smoke! Wait until the smoke has settled down to a softer, bluish-gray color, then add the butts to the grate, fat-side up. Close the dome and cook at 275°F (135°C) until the internal temperature reaches 160°F (71°C), about 8 to 10 hours for an 8-to 10-pound (3640 to 4500g) butt. Smaller butts will take less time. Remove from the Egg and place fat-side up on a double layer of aluminum foil. Wrap foil tightly and add ½ cup (120ml) apple cider before closing the wrap. Replace the foiled butt back on the Egg and continue to cook at 275° (135°C) indirect for 1½ to 2 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 195°F (91°C). You can probe through the foil to check the temperature. At 195°F (91°C) internal, remove from the Egg, open the foil and add ¼ cup (60 ml) pork marinade, strained and mixed with ¼ cup (60ml) maple syrup. Re-foil, wrap the butts in a couple of towels and place in an empty cooler to rest and keep warm. The meat will stay above 140˚F (60˚C) for a couple of hours if wrapped.
When ready to turn in, unwrap and slice off the money muscle. Remove the bone and then pick out the muscles. Place the chunks, with bark, in barbecue sauce. Slice the money muscle into ¾-inch (2-cm) slices and pull apart the other muscles. Place the whole, sliced money muscle into the turn-in box and add a pile of pulled and chunked pork.
Recipe courtesy of Smoke It Like a Pro (Page Street Press) by Eric Mitchell