Smoking A Pork Butt(Shoulder)

Choosing the Right Pork Butt(Shoulder)

When choosing a pork butt(shoulder) for smoking, you need to determine how many people you are going to be serving. Are you going to be slicing or pulling? We are going to be pulling the pork at this time. Even if you are only going to be feeding 4-5 people, you can still smoke a pork butt that is 9 pounds or larger. The main reason for this is once you have tasted the smoky goodness of a properly smoked pork butt, all bets are off. That diet you just went on will go out the window faster than a summer’s breeze. The tenderness of the meat, the smoky flavor and the all around good time everyone is having will make you want to have more.

You will want a pork butt that has a good fat cap on it. If you do not know what a fat cap is here is a simple explanation, I needed someone to explain it to me when I first started to smoke meats. The fat cap is the side of the pork butt that has a layer of fat on it, you do not want one that is more than a 1/4 inch thick. You will want to make sure that the rest of the shoulder has good marbling to it. You will find that a pork butt(shoulder) has a bone in it. It may or may not go all the way through. This will help to make sure the meat is tender.

Some people marinate their pork butt to either to give it a different flavor or to make it more tender. Other people use a dry rub to enhance the flavor of the pork butt. Another thing you can do is use different types of wood. I do not recommend using more than one type of wood at a time, to me this causes the meat to have a bitter flavor. Some marinades will require that you inject them into the meat as well as soaking. I, personally, like the dry rub method myself. I seem to get better results. Using a marinade is one of personal choice, that is totally up to you. The more experience you have the more you will want to develop your own marinade or dry rub. Simply put, you know your tastes better than anyone else. By developing your own rub, you can help your nutritional needs better( lower sodium for example).

Preheating Your Grill(smoker)

Preheating your grill(smoker) is very important for best results. I, generally, preheat my smoker to 250F and get my grill toppers to the same temperature. This will help with a more even cooking time and helps to reduce the butt from sticking. Also, during preheat time of 10 to 20 minutes, you can add to your charcoal briquettes, lump charcoal or wood any aromatics that you want to get your smoke generated and at the right consistency before the smoking begins. Now, if you are using a gas or pellet grill for smoking they now have baskets you can use to put wood chips in to smoke your select meat. It does not matter which method you use as long as you soak your chips or wood chunks for smoking. The longer you soak the better the smoke. I generally soak mine overnight to get the best smoke results.

Cooking Your Pork Butt

Now you have the preheating out of the way, place your pork butt on the cool end of the grill/smoker. The most important reason is so you do not overcook or cook your pork butt too fast. By placing your pork butt on indirect heat it allows the smoke to penetrate deep into the meat and give it the flavor you are looking for. It helps prevent overcooking. Another thing you can do is put a pan underneath the pork butt with aromatics juices, for example apple cider, apple juice, orange juice or just plain water. This will help keep moisture in the air and also helps the smoke penetrate even deeper. Just use a disposable aluminum pan that is about 4 inches deep and fill halfway on the cooler end of the grill. The outer part of the pork butt will get darker during the cooking process until black. There is no need to worry that is just part of the process. It develops what is called bark.

Timing Your Smoking for Best Results

Timing your smoking for best results can be tricky if you are new to smoking meats. Typically, when smoking you want to allow 45 minutes per pound. This works out quite well since it cuts down on the guess work in how long you should have your pork butt smoking. Another way to determine if the pork shoulder is thoroughly smoked is by taking the internal temperature by inserting a thermometer and checking the temperature. I have found that on a pork shoulder the best temperature is 170F just before removing from the grill(smoker).

Resting the Pork Butt

Resting the pork butt(or any meat) is very important to the overall tenderness. By resting the meat for at least 30 minutes, you allow the meat to complete the cooking process and allow the juices to remain in the meat. If you cut or pull the pork butt before letting it rest, you will be losing a great deal of the flavor by allowing the juices to run out. The cooking process is still going when you remove something from the grill or smoker. The pork butt will still be slightly hot when slicing or pulling at first then will gradually begin to cool as you continue to pull or cut. Tasting the results by showing a bit of patience is spectacular. Those who end up tasting your pulled pork will ask you why you have not done this before now and PLEASE DO THIS AGAIN. You will be in high demand for having developed your smoking skills to a higher level.

Turning a Pork Butt into Pulled Pork8 hour smoke

After you have let your pork butt rest for at least 30 minutes, you can begin to pull the butt. What is pulling? Pulling a pork butt is when you take either your fingers or bear claws and shredding the meat into slivers. This may take up to 30 minutes or longer to do. You want to keep at it until all of the meat is removed from the bone and it is of a consistency that is fine with no large clumps. This is not to be confused with chopped pork. Chopped uses a knife and you literally chop the meat into small pieces or cubes. That is not the same as pulled. Pulled is coarser but with great flavor.

Pairing Side Dishes For A Smoked Pork Butt

What do you use for sides with pulled pork? Sides are every bit as important as the main meat. I have found that grilled corn on the cob is amazing and you can do it several ways. One way is to put it in aluminum foil with butter and seasonings(my favorite seasoning is chipotle chili powder sprinkled on the corn), make your own potato wedges on the grill, grilled asparagus, grilled squash or zucchini. The list goes on.

How do you determine the right side? The main thing about sides is that you want them to complement the meat and not to detract from one another. You want to choose sides that will enhance the overall experience. You need to be certain that the majority of people will enjoy the sides as much as the meat.

Some people prefer to eat pulled pork as a sandwich. They may want the sides to be finger food, french fries, potato chips, corn chips, etc, If someone is having the pulled pork as a sandwich, they will generally want some type of sauce to put on it, barbeque sauce, hot sauce or their favorite sauce.

Some people like iced tea for a beverage and others like a beer. Whatever your drink of choice of drink is, you will find that you are drinking less because the flavor from the pulled pork is truly remarkable and you have become a hero to those you served for spectacular skills at smoking a pork butt and turning it into something noteworthy of high praise. Your friends and family will be talking about this for months while they anxiously await your next smoking endeavor.

You will want plenty of napkins on hand for everyone to use. Regardless, of whether you plate the pulled pork or have it in a sandwich, you are sure to have a spectacular event.

How to Improve Your Grilling

Introductory content.

Selecting the Proper Pork Butt/Shoulder

How do you determine how to which pork butt/shoulder to select for smoking. I generally use the theory that each person is going to eat

around eight ounces if they have two sandwiches. Some people may select to have pulled pork with no bread they will generally get about three ounces per serving. That being said, you have to determine how many people you will be cooking for. A good rule of thumb is to prepare a pork butt that will provide two to three servings more than the anticipated number of guests.

Look for a pork butt that has a bone that goes all the way through it. This provides more flavor and helps the cooking process. You also need to have a fatcap on one side.

Preparing the Grill

Since you are going to be cooking slowly it takes a little more preparation than it would if you were going to do steaks, hamburgers or hot dogs. I personally lay out my briquettes with one top on top of the other. Everyone has their own method. This is the way I do it since I have the best success with this method. You can either do it in the body of the grill or if you have a fire box then you can use it as well. Once you get your grill to 275 degrees it should if charcoal be covered in gray ash. If it is lump charcoal or hardwood then it should have a good bed of embers that will burn for two or more hours. You want to check your temperature on a regular basis (once an hour). If the temperature gets too hot, then sprinkle some water on it to cool it down. You do not want to use too much since that would reduce the temperature too much and may even stall the cooking process.

Preparing the Pork Butt/Shoulder for Grilling

One of the most important things to do when smoking a pork butt is to season it correctly. You can use a wet marinade or a dry rub. You can use whichever one you prefer. I have had success with both.

If you use a wet marinade then it is best to put it in a pan that has some deep sides to it. Fill it about halfway up. I try not to use a marinade that is full of sodium(salt). You can add different flavors if you like but use one that will go well with whatever wood you are using. If you are going to marinate overnight, it is best to turn it over halfway through the marinating process. You are now ready to put it on the grill for a flavorful time that your guests will talk about for months or years to come. They may even want you to do their grilling for them.

If you are using a dry rub, apply the rub liberally. You can either put it on the grill at that time or let it dry marinate for a few hours so that the flavor of the rub will be infused deeper into the meat. You are now ready to put it on the grill for a flavorful feast.

Grilling The Pork Butt/Shoulder

Now at long last, the time has arrived to get the party started. It is time to put the pork butt/shoulder. You have your grill set at 275 fahrenheit. You shoulder has marinated and smells good even before you put any heat to it. Put the pork shoulder/butt on the grill fatcap up. DO NOT put it on direct heat. Put it on the slow side so that it cooks evenly low and slow. This in not one of those times when you cook fast. You want you pulled pork to moist and tasty. A good rule of thumb is 45 minutes per one pound of meat. Check your temperature periodically if you are using charcoal or wood and add more if necessary. For a pork shoulder/butt that weighs around 9 and 1/2 pounds it will take around 7 and 1/2 hours. Take a thermometer and see if it is registering around 190 fahrenheit. When it reads that temperature take it off the grill to let it rest before pulling.

One last tip, I generally put a pan of solution one-half water and one-half apple juice under the pork shoulder/butt to keep it moist throughout the grilling process.

Your tasty results

Now at long last, you have your pork shoulder/butt off the grill, you need to let it rest. I generally let mine rest around one hour then take my claws to pull it. You will need a large cutting board and a deep aluminum pan to put the meat in. The meat is so tender that in no time at all you have all the meat pulled and torn. You can add some bar-b-que sauce to it if you so desire or leave it plain so your guests can add it later if they so desire.

Enjoy your feast. It was well worth it and your friends will be bragging about your food for months to come.

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How to grill amazing leg quarters

Remembering great grilled chicken

Grilled chicken is one of our favorite foods. For some people, it is easy to grill it too long. One of the things I do is to marinate my chicken for two to three hours before I put it on the grill. I make sure my grill is clean before I put anything on it. I often put some olive oil on the grates to help reduce any chances of sticking. The next thing I do is make sure my temperature is around 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

I personally use a charcoal grill for most of my grilling. It depends upon what I am grilling as to which I use charcoal or gas. I like the smoky flavor from charcoal so I use it more often. At this time of the year, most people have put away their grills or are about to. I find grilling to be an exciting past-time any time of the year.

Just remember the smell of chicken roasting on the grill and how it makes you anticipate the savory flavor of taking that first bite. The skin nice and crisp with all of the juices and flavor exploding into your mouth. That first bite that makes you go ooooh or aaaah. The fresh taste of chicken that has been perfectly prepared and how it makes your mouth water wanting more. You get full-throated flavor that makes you ravenous for more. You have to be quick though otherwise you will be left wanting and desiring another piece of that savory perfection that just falls off the bone into your waiting lips. You feel as if your world is whole with such succulent food before you.
Pair with the chicken some corn that has been roasted on the grill. You might want to put a little chili powder on the corn before grilling or some other flavor. I like it plain or with a little chili powder. Roast the corn until you get just a little char on it but remember you have to turn it on occasion to keep it from burning but still get that fantastic roasted flavor that is second to none.

I will sometimes grill other vegetables to go with my corn and chicken like asparagus or stuffed jalapeno peppers. I stuff my peppers with feta cheese. You can use whatever tastes best for you.

You are the one in charge. You are the one who ultimately gets the thrill from family and friends when every morsel is eaten and everyone is satisfied with such a wonderful meal.

Choosing the right leg-quarters for grilling

You must remember when choosing your leg quarters, a couple of things that are crucial are: skin must be on, this gives better flavor, another thing to look for are broken bones.

The reason to have the skin on the leg-quarters is for added flavor. After you take the leg-quarters out of the marinade, pat it dry. One way to enhance the flavor is to put some of the seasoning under the skin as well as some butter(my favorite) or oil as well.

I try to make sure that the quarters are large. While this may take longer, the flavor is extraordinary. By cooking just a few minutes longer you get a much better flavor than you would from smaller quarters. The smaller quarters while they cook quicker are prone to dry out easier.

Some tasty sides to go with your leg quarters

I will often take my cast iron pot and put my vegetables in it. I do this since I already have my grill going. I will put a variety of different vegetables in. I mostly use potatoes that I have diced, onions that are quartered, a few sliced jalapenos, some carrot rounds. I will put enough chicken stock in to have about one quarter to one half inch in the bottom. I cover with the lid and put on the cooler side so it does not overcook or scorch.

If I do not use my cast iron pot then I will grill some asparagus or sweet peppers. The asparagus will be wrapped in bacon and cooked as I finish grilling the leg quarters. The sweet(bell) peppers I will halve them and stuff with my favorite cheese. If I grill jalapenos then I stuff them with a feta-mozzerella cheese mixture. I grill the peppers until they start to blister and the cheese starts to melt.

Please leave comments below and remember to Thrill for the Grill


Smoking a Brisket


How to smoke a brisket. There are a variety of ways to smoke a brisket; charcoal grill, gas grill, oven, crock pot, smoker and Dutch Oven(large). I personally prefer the charcoal grill because I do not have to add any artificial smoke to it. The first thing that you want to do is have a grill that is large enough to put the brisket on and have a cool side. You want to select a brisket that is the right size for the number of people that you are feeding. I normally choose one that is around 12 pounds. On most briskets you will have to trim off the fat cap leaving about 1/4 inch fat.  I place a pan that has a mixture of apple juice and water on the cool end of the grill this helps to keep the brisket from drying out. I normally put my rub on there and let  it set for three to four hours depending upon how deep into the brisket I want the seasoning to penetrate. Since I use charcoal, I stack my briquets in a pyramid base to get my temperature to 250 – 275 degrees. I then  sear my brisket on both sides for about 10 minutes before I place it on the cool end of my grill. I will check on my brisket after about three hours mainly to check on the temperature to make sure that it is maintaining the desired temperature, if the temperature has started to drop the I add around ten briquets. I will check my temperature again after about thirty minutes to maintain at 250 – 275. I will then check my temperature again after another three hours to maintain temperature levels. At this point I check my apple water solution to make sure that there is still plenty there and if needed I add more to it. Now we are down to the final three hours, check your briquets one last time but add no more than seven since you are almost there. At the end of the three hours use a meat thermometer to ensure that the brisket  is at 165 degrees at the thickest part. Take the brisket from the grill and let rest for about thirty minutes before beginning to slice. ENJOY THE GRILL
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Gas grills are another popular form of grilling or smoking briskets. They are generally easier to maintain the temperature for smoking a brisket.  As with a charcoal grill, you must select your brisket carefully. You do not want a brisket that has too much fat or to be larger than you need.  You need to put your favorite rub on your brisket three to four hours ahead of time so that the seasonings will go deep into the meat. Always remember to refrigerate your meat during this time to keep it spoiling. When you get ready to start the smoking process you need to inject liquid smoke into the brisket if you want the smokey flavor that you get with a charcoal grill. Sear your brisket about ten minutes on each side then place on the cool end of the grill. You need to place a pan with a mixture of apple juice and water beside the brisket to prevent the brisket from drying out. After about three hours check the brisket and your water/juice solution to be sure that your solution has not evaporated. Three hours later you need to check your brisket again, replacing your solution if needed. Three hours later check your brisket one last time. This time use a meat thermometer to verify that the internal temperature is at 165 degrees in the thickest part of the brisket. Let the brisket set thirty minutes to one hour before slicing and serving.Making dinner

One other method that I am going to cover is in the oven. Select your brisket carefully trimming off any excess fat. Season your brisket with the seasoning of choice. You can either inject the liquid smoke now or just before searing your brisket. Place a small pan in the oven with an apple juice(or any other juice) and water solution. Set the temperature at 250 degrees place your brisket in the oven, check your brisket after about four hours. Check the water level in your pan to make sure that you did not lose too much due to evaporation. After another three hours check your brisket to make sure that the brisket has reached 165 degrees in the thickest part of the brisket Take from the oven and let rest for thirty minutes to one hour before slicing.

All of these methods work well. You have to decide which method works best for you. Most of the experts say that you need to smoke a brisket for twelve hours for it to be done. I disagree because I do not like the “bark” otherwise known as char on my brisket The “bark” has known cancer causing agents to be found in it. Cooking your brisket for ten to twelve hours gets your brisket to the tear test just as easily but without the “bark”. I do not like to waste good food. Try any of these methods, I am sure that you will not be disappointed in the outcome. This is something that you will have to try for your individual taste.



Grills —- Gas vs Charcoal

When it comes to what grill is appropriate for you, you will have to consider several factors.


  • Price
  • Availability
  • Size
  • Restrictions for your area
  • Charcoal
  • Gas
  • Ease of use
  • Side tables

You have to consider all of these things to make an informed decision. Grills run from  $59 to the thousands ( especially if you have one custom made. You want to get one that is big enough to do the job efficiently. While both types of grills are very good, you have to know if your neighborhood will allow certain types of grills. Some neighborhoods will not let you have a charcoal grill while others will ban a gas grill. KNOW YOU REGULATIONS FOR YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD. You want a grill that is easy to use with as many sideboards as you can afford for the type of grilling that you are going to be doing. Once you get bitten by the grilling bug you may find that you want a charcoal grill(for the natural smoky flavor) and a gas grill for the ease of regulating the temperature.


Remember to Thrill for the Grill

Benefits of Grilling

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I have found that grilling adds more flavor to most foods. When you first bite into something that just came off the grill and that burst of flavor hits your taste buds it is almost magical. The flavors seem to be more robust than when cooking inside. It does not matter which type of grill you use – the food just tastes better. If you use the right blend of seasonings you will find that the flavor is enhanced 1000%. Depending upon your tastes you can make some things more flavorful by grilling specific fruits with different types of meats ; for example grilling apples with pork or pineapple depending upon how sweet you want it to be. I generally grill the apple or pineapple off to one side. Using a cedar plank with Salmon gives it a nice smoky flavor while the Salmon remains moist and tender. I sometimes use apple juice as a moisturizer next to the charcoal, you may put it in a sauce pan or small container that will hold up to the heat on a grill whether the grill is gas or charcoal.

Dietary Benefits

When grilling you do one thing that while making your food flavorful-you seal the outside so that the vitamins and minerals stay in your food. You also have the fat naturally drained away since there is no container that you are cooking in. You keep more of the fatty acids that are beneficial to you, beta carotene, b complex vitamins. You get the idea. You are getting rid of most of the bad and keeping most of the good.


Thrill for the Grill

Thrill for the Grill is for those people who want or need tips and/or information on how to make grilling fun. No that does not mean a six pack and finding a BBQ restaurant. Whether you are using charcoal(my favorite) or gas it all starts with the prep. Say for example you want to cook a complete chicken dinner in one pan, you will need to have a chicken that is large enough for the family or friends. You will need the spices for the recipe or just buy one that is already put together for you. I generally use my own spices that way I can control the amount of salt that is in my seasoning mix. That is especially true if you are on a restricted diet. I have found that if I grill at least three times a week that my cholesterol and blood pressure are either under control or right there on the normal range.

As a rule, I do not use any additives to my meat because of the higher salt or sodium content. I try to find herbs and other spices to change the flavor of the meat. If they are fresh herbs then you will not want to use as much as you would if it were one that you had bought. All herbs are stronger when they are first dried and lose their strength over time. You can look on the bottle to see what each herb is good for as not all of them do well on the grill but that also depends upon your taste. Do you want sweet, spicy, salty, smoky, tangy as you see the list goes on. That all depends upon your personal taste. I have found that for pork chops or loin that if I want sweet then I grill apples, pineapple, or mangoes this can also be used on an uncooked ham. There are many fruits and vegetable that can be used in place of the traditional herbs and spices that you buy at the market.  Grilling is a more natural way of cooking for us at this time in our evolution,  since caveman days we have been cooking over flames and finding ways to harness the flame to do our bidding in a more controlled manner.

Why is control so important to grilling? Without some form of control our food would either be overcooked or under cooked. Even today with all of our controls we still miss the most important control of all, the cook. You need to look at all of the grills out there to find the one that suits your style of cooking. Do you cook quickly of slowly? Do you open the lid often? Whenever you open the lid you let out precious heat and it takes longer to get the heat back to the temperature that it should be at. Cooking with charcoal is often more difficult that with gas since on some items you will have to add more briquets where with gas you can set the control at different settings retaining your heat or regaining you heat easier. With gas you can have multiple burners, while with charcoal you have the one cooking area. With gas you have to use additives to get the smoky flavor that you get from charcoal, you can also use additives with charcoal.

What foods do you normally grill? Have you ever tried other foods? One of the most difficult foods that l have ever tried cooking was fish. This is because fish is not as dense as other foods and falls apart more easily and burns more easily. I have noticed recently in Academy, Lowe’s and Home Depot that they now have attachments specifically to cook fish with. I like grilled fish that has a smoky flavor especially salmon. I will be giving you some of my favorite recipes about once a month.


remember to Thrill for the Grill