A Boston Butt is a cut of pork
which comes from the rear of the front shoulder
of a pig. Apparently, the name comes from the fact
that it is the butt of the shoulder, so to speak. It's a very fatty and somewhat tough
piece of pork, however it also has incredible
flavor. This lends it well to a long, slow cooking method. The best way? In a smoker
of course! By cooking it for hours and hours on a smoker, you render
all the fat which bastes the pork during the cooking producing a lean and moist
roast at the end.
I made this for the Ohio gathering and it went over very well. I'd like to take the credit, but anyone can do this with the right equipment. You'll obviously need a good Butt. You may be able to find it in your grocery store, however I go to a little butcher shop near me and purchase some quality pork. Yeah, pork. mmmmmmmm. It runs about $3 a pound there, expect it to be cheaper if you get it from a grocery store. Don't get anything that's been pre-seasoned. Usually they will weigh in at 5-7 lbs which should feed 10-12 people, depending on how hungry they are.
Next up, you need a smoker. There are no shortage of options here, but if you are starting out, I'd recommend a cheap bullet smoker. These are about 3 feet tall cylinders and come in electric, charcoal, and gas varieties. Mine is a Brinkman Electric smoker, which I got because it was relatively cheap ($60) and the convenience of electric is great. Some people will tell you charcoal is the only way to go, however I tend to think the wood is what matters here and you can get excellent flavor from an electric. Search the web and you'll find more opinions on smokers than you could ever want...
Finally, you need some wood. Hickory is definitely a favorite and I use it with pork. Apple wood would probably work well for this too if you wanted to give a sweeter flavor. Any place that sells smokers should have wood as well, so it should not be hard to find. Generally you can get either chips or chunks. Either one will work, I tend to use chunks because they burn longer. And you'll also need a decent meat thermometer.
Ok, let's start cooking!
Ok, now we're ready to cook. Remember this stuff is approximate, experimentation is a good thing. Mix up the rub well and coat the pork with it. Rub it in good, but don't worry about packing it on too much. Wrap the pork shoulder in plastic, airtight, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Remove pork from the fridge about an hour before you are ready to cook, and put another coat of the rub on. Leave pork out to warm up to room temp.
Get your smoker up to temperature and add some wood to start smoking. The wood chips/chunks should be soaked in water for 30 minutes ahead of time. If you don't do this, they will flame up, which is fine but will probably get the temperature in the smoker higher than you want. If you use chips, it works really well if you put them in a tightly wrapped bag of aluminum foil with a few holes poked in the top. If you have a bullet type water smoker like mine, you can just add water to the water pan, but that's no fun. I like to instead add apple juice and about 30 cloves of garlic. It can't hurt the flavor and it makes thing smell damn good.
Ok, once your smoker is, well, smoking, plop the meat on there, fat side up. Put the cover on and forget it. All you really have to do is add some more wood when it quits smoking. Remember, more isn't always needed, you don't need a towering inferno of smoke here. As a general rule, you want to cook it 1-1.5 hours per pound, but the meat thermometer is the way to go. If you want to serve it as a roast and carve it, cook to an internal temperature of about 180 degrees. If you want to pull it for pulled pork sandwiches, go to about 190 degrees. If you like, you can baste it with the mop while it's cooking, but I don't. It doesn't really need it, it's plenty moist as it is, and the mop prevents the nice crust from forming.
So now we are all cooked and looking mighty fine. If you like, carve it up and serve it as is. If you want to make pulled pork sandwiches, grab a fork and begin to shred. Once shredded, pile on buns and baste with a little bit of the mop. Pork. It's what's for dinner.