Boston butt is a thick cut of pork meat that contains a good amount of marbling and fat content. The high amount of marbled fat creates a very moist, juicy roast. This cut comes from high on the hog above the shoulder blade. In comparison, below the butt is the pork shoulder. Often used because it is a versatile piece of meat, the pork butt really shines when it’s slow-cooked or braised until it’s tender and easy to remove from the bone.
Before roasting a Boston butt, creating and applying a perfectly-paired pork rub seasoning will maximize your flavor. Smoking a seasoned pork butt roast on low temperatures for a long amount of time delivers the most moist, flavorful results. Per pound of uncooked roast, a low temperature of 250 degrees will take up to two hours. This is a cut of meat that could require a full day of outdoor barbecue cooking. For this time commitment, it can be really important to choose the best flavor-enhancing components for your pork butt rub.
Enhance the Flavor
Seasoning and adding flavor to your Boston butt can be accomplished in many ways, including brining, dry rubs and barbecue techniques. Brining is accomplished by combining spices with an acidic solution, like apple juice or apple cider vinegar. This avenue to flavor adds a very potent, acidic flavor to the pork butt. Another disadvantage is that the pork butt can take on too much brine, leading to a disastrous flavor profile at the end.
We prefer the stronger presence of pork flavor that comes with seasoning your Boston butt with a combination of flavors from smoking woods and spices in a dry rub.
Smoking Woods for Flavor
The best flavor of barbecue comes from the smoke of burning logs used in the process of slow-cooking. Traditionally, hardwood logs and wood chips are effective at delivering the desired smoke flavoring to your Boston butt.
To determine the best type of wood to use to enhance the flavor of your pork butt, look at a few of the options below. Smoking woods have different flavor profiles, from sweet to hearty. Choose a wood that matches the flavor profile you want to achieve.
For smoking, hickory produces a powerful flavor and a large continuous plume of smoke. The flavor profile is strong and hearty, but could turn bitter if too much is used.
Oak produces a strong and full flavor profile. A benefit of red oak over hickory is that the flavor produced will not overpower the taste of your roast. This hardwood is great for burning for long periods of time, so it will work with the slow roasting requirements of your pork butt.
Grapevine cuttings can be added as a smoke source that will produce a delicate, sweet flavor. When using grapevine cuttings, be sure to consider the amount you use. This additive produces thick, strong plumes of smoke.
This smoking hardwood will produce a mild and sweet flavor profile in your roast. Apple wood is a slow burning hardwood that is great to use for a day-long pork roast barbecue.
This hardwood produces a light and sweet flavor profile when used as a smoking wood. An additional feature includes the gentle, brown coloring of your pork roast. This wood works well when paired with another slow burning hardwood like hickory.
Making the perfect dry rub comes down to flavor profile and ingredients. Most homemade pork butt dry rubs contain hearty spices, salt and a touch of something high in heat. Hearty spices include chili powder, paprika and ground garlic. Garlic salt is a popular dry rub additive. Something high in heat is often added to give an extra the pork rub, like cayenne. Sometimes, a liquid smoke flavor is added to accomplish a savory bbq pork rub. If you want a sweet flavor profile, you can add granulated sugar or brown sugar to the rub.
Mixing stronger spices with complementary mild spices can help your dry rub homogenize. Keeping the rub consistent in flavor by thoroughly combining spices produces the most flavorful result. Below is a tutorial on how to make the perfect dry rub for your Boston butt with a great balance of mild and strong spices.
Making a Dry Rub
This dry rub recipe is perfect for the Boston butt because it will penetrate into your marbled cut of meat to deliver maximum flavor. Using the pro tips below, it can be altered to create your perfect flavor profile. The basic ingredients and procedure are below. The procedure is easy to follow and will get you on your way to an awesome meal!
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 4 teaspoons garlic powder
- 4 teaspoons onion powder
- 4 tablespoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 3 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together with a whisk or fork. Then, the bbq spice rub is ready to worked into your meat. Store your dry rub in the fridge in an airtight container. It will keep for two to four weeks.
Dry Rub Pro Tips
- If you and your family prefer spicier meat, increase the amount of cayenne or paprika in your mix. Add an extra teaspoon for a real kick!
- Sweeten your spice mix by adding a few tablespoons of brown sugar. This will caramelize as your roast smokes and produce a sweet, hearty flavor profile.
It can be tricky to get the balance of spices and smoking wood to produce the best flavor profile for your Boston butt. By choosing the right smoking wood, you can maximize your chances to produce your desired flavor profile. Knowing the difference between apple wood, which produces a sweet and delicate smoked flavor, and hickory wood, which produces a hearty and full smoked flavor, will effectively create the desired taste of your barbecue.
Understanding the spicy and sweet spice balance will also help you avoid unpleasant barbecue flavorings. If you choose not to use a type of sweetening in your spice mix, your meat will be salty and heartily flavored. If you choose to include brown sugar, your pork rub seasoning will produce a caramelized and sweet flavor.
In order to produce the best results with your homemade dry rub and choice of wood, you can follow the guide below to cook the perfect Boston butt!
After choosing your type of wood and making your homemade dry rub, it’s time to get cooking! The step-by-step guide below, along with helpful pro tips, will help you perfectly slow cook your Boston butt.
- Apply a thin coat of vinegar-based mustard to the outside of your Boston butt. Good options include dijon mustard and yellow mustard.
- Work your homemade rub into your butt. This is an important step! Skin acts as a barrier to flavor, so if you don’t work the rub into the meat, the flavor will be lighter. Rub the prepared mix of spices into your meat on all sides thoroughly, and it will penetrate the skin to season the entire cut.
- Wrap your seasoned butt in foil. It can be beneficial to let the roast sit overnight.
- Prepare your barbecue with your chosen smoking wood to a temperature of at least 225 degrees.
- Cook your roast in the foil for about 60 to 90 minutes for every pound. Every two hours, make sure to turn the roast on a different side. Rub a bit of olive oil on the roast during this time to ensure moisture retention.
- When you think it’s close to being done, measure the internal temperature at the thickest part of your roast with a meat thermometer. When done, the internal temperature should measure 190 degrees.
- Once done on the barbecue, take off heat and let the meat sit for ten minutes. Then, it’s ready to cut and serve with your favorite side dishes!
Procedure Pro Tips
- To enhance the effectiveness of your dry rub, mix in a tablespoon of water and a half cup of vinegar. Work this penetrating solution into your meat to tenderize, flavor and further moisten your cut!
- When cooking your meat, mix a tablespoon of dry rub with a tablespoon of apple juice. Spray this mixture onto your meat to increase flavor and maintain moisture.
- Pair the flavor of your smoking wood with the flavor of your rub. For example, if your rub is sweet, consider pairing it with the delicate smoking flavor produced by apple wood.
- In addition to adding to the flavor profile by choosing a smoking wood, you can also burn dried herbs in your bbq pit. Dried herbs like rosemary, thyme and oregano can be put onto the burning embers of your wood and left to smoke. The smoke produced with add another level of flavor to your roast.
Choosing the right flavor-enhancing smoking wood and dry rub ingredients for your Boston butt is the first step in a successful barbecue. The best homemade dry rubs have a balanced flavor profile that include a mix of salty and strong spices. When it comes to creating the best dry rub for your Boston butt, you can always add more or less of a particular spice to amplify its impact on your flavor profile. Popular alterations include smoked paprika and onion powder for more hearty flavor profiles. For sweeter, brown sugar can be added. The options are endless in what you can do with your dry rub! When the dry rub is used with a tried-and-true procedure, your desired result of a juicy, flavorful roast can be achieved.