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toddwchandler

Question About Bark On Boston Butt

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The more I continue to read and learn about smoking Boston Butts for pulled pork, the more I get the impression that one of the measuring sticks for a good solid cook is having a nice layer of bark on the outside of the meat.  Maybe I'm in the minority here or maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I kind of find it unappealing to have a tough piece of bark mixed in with the pork that I pull.

 

I have smoked two butts so far on my Akorn Jr.   The first I pulled off at 160 degrees, double wrapped in foil, and then put back on the smoker until it his about 205 degrees.   When I got ready to pull it, the bark was honestly mushy, but the meat absolutely feel apart and was super juicy and tender.  The second time, I took a butt about half the size and this time left it on the smoker the whole time without foiling it.   I pulled it off at about 198 degrees, which I think was too soon.   The result was a good firm bark, but the meat came out less tender and juicy.   I don't know if it would have improved if I'd waited until it hit 205 to take it off or not.

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Personally the bark adds a lot of the flavour.  I want as much bark as I can get.  A lot of salt & sugar works well to form the bark.  Foiling will soften the bark for sure.  I don't foil.   Next cook try buying a bone in butt.  Don't worry about the internal temp.  When you can twist the bone out with your fingers the butt is fully cooked.  I think you'll find that to be in the 205˚F range but it's not exact.  I sometimes will take a butt and finish in a D/O. if I'm on a time line.  That holds plenty of moisture but does not adversely affect the bark.    

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I like doing a vinegar based mop every 30 minutes or so throughout the cook. Builds the bark as the cook progresses. The major con to this is the constant tending but I don't mind. All my really good buts have been wet mopped. 

 

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1 hour ago, ckreef said:

I like doing a vinegar based mop every 30 minutes or so throughout the cook. Builds the bark as the cook progresses. The major con to this is the constant tending but I don't mind. All my really good buts have been wet mopped. 

 

 

This is a solid approach and the other option to find a middle ground on bark firmness is using butcher paper instead of foil or naked.  Take a look at this video.  He's doing brisket but its the same thing on a pork butt.

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, ckreef said:

I like doing a vinegar based mop every 30 minutes or so throughout the cook. Builds the bark as the cook progresses. The major con to this is the constant tending but I don't mind. All my really good buts have been wet mopped. 

 

I'm a North Carolinian so you had me at "vinegar" and sealed the deal with "bark". I'm a big fan of ENC vinegar/pepper sauce. Is that what you use in your mop, or are there other ingredients?

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Carolina Vinegar Sauce

- 1 quart Apple Cider Vinegar

- 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt

- 2 Tablespoons Crushed Red Pepper flakes

- 1 Tablespoon Black Pepper Ground

 

It's exactly what I use on mine. You can see the red pepper flakes in the pic above. 

 

I only mop once or twice in my cook. This is what the bark bark looks like.

 

 

 

 

IMG_3862.JPG

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35 minutes ago, jadocs said:

Carolina Vinegar Sauce

- 1 quart Apple Cider Vinegar

- 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt

- 2 Tablespoons Crushed Red Pepper flakes

- 1 Tablespoon Black Pepper Ground

 

It's exactly what I use on mine. You can see the red pepper flakes in the pic above. 

 

I only mop once or twice in my cook. This is what the bark bark looks like.

 

 

 

 

IMG_3862.JPG

An amazingly simple sauce that brings out the best in pork.
Back in the late 70's I worked on a construction crew of men from around Dunn, NC. These guys loved their 'cue and towed their cooker on out of town jobs. We'd all pitch in and buy half a hog for a cookout when we'd get a day off. In those days vinegar still came in glass gallon jugs. Their recipe was about the same as yours minus the salt and black pepper. They'd buy several gallons of cider vinegar and a tin or two of red pepper. They added the pepper to the gallon jugs - no measuring required - and let the recipe sit all night. Next day, when the hog was cooking, they punched holes in the jug lids and shook the sauce from the jugs on the hog as it cooked.
It was some of the best 'cue I've ever eaten. Those boys had the touch.
Good times and great eating.
There's a lot to be said for simple when it works as well as this recipe does.
Thanks

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Doing a butt tomorrow and reducing down my mop sauce as I type this. 

 

Mop sauce - didn't exactly measure anything but this was basically it:

 

40 oz or so cider vinegar 

A little yellow mustard. 

A bit more more ketchup. 

2 fresh squeezed lemons 

A decent amount of fresh cracked Tasmanian Pepper Berries 

Some fresh ground pink Himalayan salt. 

Brown sugar for a little sweetening. 

 

Bring to a boil then simmer and reduce to the consistency of chocolate milk. 

 

Let cool overnight then mop away tomorrow. 

 

 

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Did my Boston butt w/ vinegar mop cook today. Made the mop sauce last night as outlined above. 

BVMa.thumb.jpg.e4924448d1f004767840828e3b9e6899.jpg

 

Put the butt on at 7am with any average temperature of about 240*. Mopped with vinegar sauce once every hour. Here it is after 4 hours. Bark slowly building up. 

BVMb.thumb.jpg.4b46cd730ce463c2b938238761e57092.jpg

 

At around 160* internal I wrapped in foil and cranked temperature up to around 300*. Pulled at 203* internal. Total cook time, 10 1/2 hours. Only pulled about 2/3's of the meat. Nice sized chunk left in the refrigerator for Brunswick Stew. 

BVMc.thumb.jpg.451ef22e6a93546d911cf5dfaaadc56b.jpg

 

 

 

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Pictures like this helped me a lot when I was learning how to cook pork butts. Here is before and after (and pulled). I used meat church honey hog hot rub, applied and wrapped in plastic and sat in fridge for 24 hours. Then applied rub again, tied up, and put in a 225 degree Akorn for 15.5 hours and removed at 200 degrees, between the start and the finish I never opened the lid. Wrapped in foil and put in a cooler for a couple hours and then pulled removing the rest of the noticeable fat. 

 

Served for lunch with homemade oatmeal rolls and tomatos from the garden. Great day and lots of happy people. 

PorkBefore.jpg

PorkAfter.jpg

Lunch.jpg

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When I make vinegar sauce I use the following in approximates:

 

2 cups apple vinager

1 tbs red pepper flakes

1 tbs brown sugar

1 tsp cyanne pepper

 

you cant really mess up a vinager sause. 

 

Also, a kitchen aid mixer with the flat paddle attachment does a great job of "pulling" the pork.  Add about 1/4 of the butt at a time and mix until "pulled."   It won't look as nice as hand pulled pork but it will save you a lot of time and does a great job of mixing the bark in.

 

I also agree that the bark adds a lot of flavor but if it isn't mixed well it can be kind of intense.  Also, I find that I get great bark formation and have a great moisture content by cooking between 225-275 F until the meat is just over 200 F.  I do not foil at all, I dry brine with 1/2 tsp of salt per lb meat rubbed all over for at least 24 hours up to three days. I add the rub, I put no salt in the rub because I dry brine, right before the meat goes on the grill. I believe the dry brining helps a lot with moisture content.  I alway dry brine all my meats and find they come out better. 

 

I feel that dry brining has been one of the best improvements I have made. 

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