A Different Cooking Technique – Injecting Pork Butt

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A common issue many people have with their smoked meats and barbecue is food that turns out dry and tough. Unfortunately, this is always a possibility when dealing with meat cooked over long periods of time, with those who aren't as experienced being the most likely to fall victim to it. There's no shame in inexperience, though, as it just means you get to make more barbecue to practice.

One easy way to help your meat stay moist while it's smoking is to inject it with a special seasoning liquid. Filling the meat up with a liquid both keeps it from drying out while introducing even more flavor to the finished food, making it a win-win no matter what you cook.

A great meat to inject is the pork roast, otherwise known as the Boston butt. How do you go about injecting meat? What should you inject meat with? These questions and more will be answered in this recipe for an injected smoked pork butt sure to please everyone at your next cookout. Let's get started.

injecting pork butt

What You'll Need For This Recipe

​In order to follow this recipe for an injected smoked pork butt, you'll need to grab a few supplies first. For easier organization, we'll break down what you'll need for injecting the pork, the seasoning for it, and cooking the pork itself.

Injection Solution

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    ​Large meat syringe
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    ​1 cup apple juice or apple cider vinegar
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    ​1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
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    1/2 cup chicken broth
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    3 tablespoons spice dry rub (see below)
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    3 tablespoons lemon juice
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    2 teaspoons white pepper
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    2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Spice Dry Rub

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    ​8 teaspoons kosher salt
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    ​4 teaspoons dark brown sugar
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    ​3 teaspoons sweet paprika
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    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
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    1/2 teaspoon onion powder
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    1/2 teaspoon chili powder
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    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
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    1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
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    1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
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    1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Pork Butt

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    ​Boston pork butt (about 8 lbs)
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    Charcoal smoker with chunk charcoal
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    ​Wood chunks or chips (apple and hickory are good choices)
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    Plastic spray bottle
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    Aluminum baking tray
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    Aluminum foil
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    Plastic wrap
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    Baking tray
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    Meat thermometer
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    Insulated cooler
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    Clean towel
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    Yellow mustard
ingredients-list-injection-rub-meat

Pork Butt Recipe

​When you've collected all the ingredients necessary for the recipe, you can finally move on to the part where you actually cook your pork.

Step 1: Season the Pork

You'll want to start this recipe the night before you actually intend to cook it, as it gives extra time for flavor to develop within the meat after it's been seasoned.

Begin by trimming off any excess fat cap, silver skin, or other unattractive bits, saving them in a sealed container for making things like pork stock at a later date. You can also trim off bits of meat to make the pork more uniform in shape, though this isn't typically necessary given the primary uses for smoked pork butt don't usually require it to look very attractive. When done, rinse the meat off in cold water and pat it dry with paper towels.

Next, make up your spice dry rub, stirring everything together thoroughly. When that's done, start on your injection solution, warning it all together in a small saucepan until the butter melts, letting it cool briefly before injecting it into the meat and inject pork butt​ using an injection needle. Discard any spilled or leftover liquid and pat the outside of the pork dry.

Finally, coat the outside of the pork butt thoroughly in mustard. This helps the spice rub adhere better, as well as provide extra caramelization. When full coverage is achieved, rub in your spice mix before transferring the meat onto a large baking tray and covering with plastic wrap, letting it sit in the fridge until tomorrow.

Step 2: Light the Smoker

About 30 minutes out from when you'll actually begin this step, soak any wood chips you'll be using in hot water. This helps to keep them from burning up too quickly when they're tossed onto the fire. Additionally, just to make things easier for yourself, take your meat out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for that same amount of time.

When you're ready to cook, you can start by preheating your smoker. Fill it with charcoal, light the fire, and once it gets going, close the lid. The choice of wood is completely up to you, depending on what kind of smoky flavor you want to get. Cherry wood is a nice option. After a little while, the coals will have burned down some and lowered in temperature. What you're aiming for is a smoker close to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, as that's the ideal range for smoking this type of pork.

Once there, add on your wood, fill the water tank, and add on the grate before closing the lid once more and letting the smoke and steam build up inside the cover. This ensures that, from the moment you put your meat inside, it will be smoking in an optimal environment.

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Step 3: Smoke the Pork

Since you already took care of your prep work the night before and had your meat sitting out to warm up prior to even lighting the smoker, you can move on to cooking almost immediately once the barbecue gets up to temperature.

Do one last check of the roast, adding any more seasoning on bare patches you might find, before inserting a thermometer into the thickest part of the butt. When it's ready, place it fat side up onto the grates and close the lid. Over the next several hours, make sure to monitor the coal, wood, and water levels thoroughly, adding more as needed and adjusting the air intake to keep the fire at optimal levels. Additionally, every hour or so, spray the meat down with a 50:50 mixture of apple juice or cider and water to help keep the meat moist and the outside from burning.

When your thermometer reaches the internal temperature of 175 degrees Fahrenheit, place the pork into an aluminum baking pan. Add less than half an inch of your spray mixture to the bottom of the pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil, then return everything to the smoker. Your pork is officially done once it reaches 195 degrees, at which point anything inserted into it (the thermometer, a fork, etc.) should slide in with little to no resistance.

Step 4: Rest the Pork

When your meat has finished cooking, remove it from the smoker. Wrap the pan in a clean towel and transfer everything into a cooler without ice. Close the lid and let it sit inside for the next hour at a minimum. Yes, the cooking time will be longer, but trust me, you don't want to miss this step if you want a world championship pork quality.

When resting, meat has a chance to relax and become more tender, as well as fully finish cooking as residual heat travels throughout the meat. Additionally, keeping the meat sealed with foil in a pan like this helps it tenderize further, to the point where it will be ready to fall apart once you're done resting it. 

​Step 5: Pull The Pork

By the end of the rest, the pork butt should all but be falling apart. Unlike with other cuts of meat, this is the ideal state for pork butt, as it is naturally very tough and hard to eat. By completely gelatinizing any of the tough connective tissue within the meat, though, the meat is extremely tender, moist, and flavorful.

Remove the bone from inside the meat (it should be tender enough to where you could just poke into it with a fork and pull it out), then get to shredding. Using two forks, simply pull the meat apart in the pan, mixing it around to coat it in any collected juices that pooled during the resting time. You can also use met claws, Cave Tools have a couple of great options like this, this or these shredder rakes. Take this opportunity to taste for seasoning, too, and add in extra salt, pepper, herbs, or whatever you like as you pull it. Once you're done, you should have a large pile of nicely pulled pork.

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​Step 6: Serve The Pulled Pork Butt

Pulled pork is at its best when served on a bun smothered in barbecue or ​hot sauce or bbq sauce. Grab a bag of hamburger buns or Hawaiian rolls and dig in, either making the pulled pork sandwiches up ahead of time or letting your cookout guests serve themselves. You can add plenty of other toppings, too, like diced onions and coleslaw, and serve it along with traditional barbecue sides like baked beans. All in all, you just can't go wrong with something this good.

​Conclusion

We hope you liked this injection recipe. Boston butt is a great cut of meat that can be made even greater with the use of injected liquid. ​Pork injection is an easy way to amp up the flavor and help prevent it from burning or drying out during cooking. If you haven't tried this great technique for yourself, grab yourself a pork butt and try it out.

Did you like this guide? Have any tips on injecting meat or a good recipe for it? Leave a comment about it, and remember to share this guide with a friend.

Download This Recipe

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Smoked Injected Pork Butt (2 downloads)

Frequently Asked Questions

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