by Pitmaster Jimi James
It’s summer and right now most of us are grilling out– Burgers, Dogs, Steaks, Kabobs, Sausages, and on and on and on. Not everyone out there has a smoker or even knows how to use one. If you live in the Northern parts of the world, then just keeping a smoker up to temperature is a fete in itself.
Today, I’m gonna show you how to make pulled pork in a Crock-Pot, and it will come out the same every time. I promise it won’t matter what the weather is like outside!!!
First, you’re going to need a Pork Butt. (Stop laughing.) Now don’t be alarmed, this cut of meat is not from the back side of a pig. I believe they are actually called Boston Butts. This cut of meat is from the upper part of the shoulder. They got their name because when they were being shipped they were packed into a barrel. (Most of us would think of a whiskey barrel when talking about this.) In colonial times, they called these “Barrels Butts,” and they were being shipped from Boston. Hence…Boston Butt.
Okay, now that our little history lesson is over, let’s get into this article!!!
So you’re going to go to your favorite grocery store. Sometimes, you will find a butt single-packaged, but if you shop at a club store (like Sam’s Club or Costco or even Gordon Food Service), you’re going to find they sell butts as 2 in a cryovac package.
You want a 6- to 8-pound butt. It should have a lot of fat on one side.
I want to make sure of one thing here. Please do NOT buy a picnic roast. These have skin and fat. There is less meat, and it’s just a pain in the ass to take the skin off. I wouldn’t want anyone to cut themselves trying to separate the skin from the fat.
Okay, so a 6- to 8-pound butt.
When you get it home, carefully take the plastic off the butt, but you should do so in the sink. The butt will be somewhat bloody, and you don’t want blood getting all over. Remember, safety first. Rinse the butt off, and then pat it dry with some paper towels.
Now get out your Crock-Pot or other brand of slow cooker. We are going to get some aluminum foil and make a ring or donut out of the foil to put in the bottom of the Crock-Pot like this.
The reason we are putting a ring of foil in the bottom is to keep the butt out of the juice.
We are going to rub the butt with a dry rub, and if we set it right on the bottom, all that crusty goodness will just wash off. Nobody wants that.
Here’s what you’ll need for the dry rub for your butt:
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup Kosher salt
4 Tbsp Sweet Hungarian paprika
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 Tbsp oregano
2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp celery seed
Put all your ingredients in a bowl and mix together with a whisk.
Put your butt on a cookie sheet, and we are going to rub it down with a light coat of olive oil. The reason we are using olive oil is that the spices we have in the dry rub are oil-soluble. Which just means the spices will release their oils and become more pertinent.
After you have rubbed a light coat of olive oil on your butt, I want you to sprinkle a liberal coating of the dry rub ALL over. Get into every nook and cranny.
Once done, we are going to put the butt in the slow cooker on top of that foil ring. (You may still be scratching your head on this one. So now you can stop scratching.) After the butt is in the cooker and on top of the foil ring, I want you to add apple juice.
Any kind of apple juice is fine. (You’ll see my preference above.)
You need to be careful when pouring the juice in the cooker. Don’t pour the juice on the butt, or you’ll wash off the soon-to-be crusty goodness. Instead, pour the juice on the side and only until the juice comes to the top of the foil ring. Yep, you guessed it! We are using the juice to keep our butt moist. By the way, I may have forgotten to mention when you put the butt in the cooker, it needs to go fat cap/side UP. The fat will render out and help work with the steam from the apple juice to keep our butt nice and moist.
Set your Crock-Pot on high for 2 hours.
Now, walk away. Don’t look at it or even peek. Just walk away.
After 2 hours is up, come back and turn your Crock-Pot (slow cooker) to low.
Now, you have about 6 hours to go. Walk away.
With that said you’re going to want the internal temp of your butt to be somewhere between 195 degrees F to 200 degrees F. Pork is considered cooked and safe to eat at 145 degrees F, so what gives with the higher internal temp????? There are a lot of connective tissues and collagen in a butt. When the internal temp gets above 190 degrees F, those tissues and collagen literally melt into the meat making it fall apart.
The best way to check your internal temp– and I’m going to always say this– is to get yourself an instant read thermometer. The best I’ve seen is a Thermapen.
You can get one off Amazon, and if you stick with me on all these recipes for meat, I’m always going to tell you to stick your meat with a Thermapen. These temp gauges come in all kinds of fun colors. So you can find one that matches your personality or that matches your kitchen.
Once you have your butt at the right internal temp, turn the slow cooker off. Just let the butt sit there for 45 minutes. This is what’s known as a resting period.
While cooking we have been pushing the juices out of the meat. When we let it rest, the meat is going to re-absorb some of those juices. If we were to just take the butt out and start pulling it right away, it would look juicy, but in 10 minutes, the butt would dry out.
So after the resting period, we’re going to take the butt out of the smoker. Please remember it is still going to be hot. You can use thermal gloves, a fork and spatula. Just be careful!
At this point, I use a 9×13 cake pan, or I purchase an aluminum foil pan from the store. Either really works great.
Now we’re going to remove the fat from the butt. It did it’s job and now it must be removed. No one wants to eat the fat. We want all the goodness from the pork meat itself!!!
Using 2 forks, just start pulling the butt apart into pieces. How thick or how thin? That’s your preference, my friend. Just get it all pulled.
Take the foil ring out of the slow cooker and put all the yummy butt back in there.
The last thing to do is add your BBQ sauce. Here is a way to add something to bottled sauce and wow your family, friends and guests.
Take 1 bottle of your favorite sauce. I just happened to have this sauce on hand. I’m using an 18 ounce bottle.
Now we’re gonna make it better!!!!
Pour the sauce into a 5-quart saucepan and heat on medium to medium high.
Add to this:
- 1 stick of butter
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ cup honey
Whisk everything together until combined. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Then add to the butt in the slow cooker and turn cooker on low.
After an hour, everything should be heat up all through.
Now just get ya some burger buns, and you’re all good to go. You could make some cole slaw, baked beans, potato salad or even some of my baked mac ‘n cheese to go with these!!!!!!
Now, go enjoy!
Stay hungry my friends. Until next time…