I have a big cook coming up – 8 butts worth of pulled pork for a crowd of 120. I plan on doing them 4 at a time on my Big Green Egg. In preparation, I’ve been playing with ways at cutting down my cooking time without affecting the quality of the end product.
A typical boneless pork shoulder roast (Boston butt) runs 8-10 pounds and takes about 2 hours per pound to cook at 225°F. So I’m looking at 2 x 16-20 hour cooks. For this cook I wanted to try cutting the butt in half. This increases my surface area, meaning more bark (the tasty dark outside, a good thing), greater chance of drying out (a bad thing), and only an 8 hour cook (a very good thing).
The night before, I cut the butt in half and dusted it heavily with my basic pig rub. I wrapped in in plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge overnight.
The next morning I set up the BGE for an indirect cook of at least 10 hours at 225°F. This meant filling the firebox with lump and using a platesetter and drip pan to diffuse the heat. When the cooker was up to temp I added some chucks of guava wood for smoke.
I put the 2 butt halves (cheeks?) on, making sure to leave some space between them on the grate so they didn’t act like one big piece of meat.
6 hours into the cook I started checking for doneness. Pork butts are done when the collagen and connective tissue has melted into tasty gelatin and the meat literally starts to fall apart. I let these get to 190°F internal in the bigger half, then wrapped them together in a double layer of heavy duty aluminum foil and put them back on the cooker for another hour or so until they reached 210°F internal.
I took them off the cooker and let them rest in the foil for an hour. When they had cooled a little, I pulled the meat apart using a couple of bear paws to separate the fibers. The idea is to remove all the remaining inedible bits, break the meat down into bite-sized pieces, and ensure an even distribution of the chewy bark. I added a little Lexington finishing sauce as I was working with the meat to help keep it moist.
The end result was very tasty, and (aside from more chewy brown bits of bark) not much different from other batches of pulled pork that I’ve made in the past with whole butts. I got both the shorter cooking time and more bark, so win-win ;).
The only downside was that 2 halves took up more room on the grate than 1 whole butt would. That may end up being a problem when it comes to trying to stuff 4 butts into the Egg. But even if that’s the case, this was still a great way to put pulled pork on the dinner table without having to do an all-night cook.