Unleash the Flavor: A Delectable Smoked Pork Butt Recipe

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Aaron Franklin Inspired Smoked Pork Butt Recipe

Howdy, BBQ enthusiasts! If you’re here, it means you’re ready to take your pulled pork game to the next level and elevate your smoking skills. Well, get excited because we’ve got an incredible recipe inspired by none other than the legendary Aaron Franklin himself.

The Art of Smoking Pork Butt

Smoking a pork butt is a breeze compared to other cuts of meat. Its sheer size and abundant fat content make it incredibly forgiving. It’s pretty hard to mess up a pork butt, unless you don’t cook it thoroughly or attempt to ‘pull’ the meat apart before it’s ready. While it’s difficult to overcook a pork butt, make sure it’s properly rendered and ready for the ultimate experience.

Recently, I had the privilege of taking Aaron Franklin’s Masterclass, where I learned a couple of game-changing tricks. This recipe isn’t an exact replica of Aaron’s, but it’s heavily influenced by his techniques. While Aaron used his new Franklin Offset Smoker, we’ve adapted this recipe for pellet smokers like the Yoder YS640s, which provide excellent results and simplify the smoking process.

Meet the BBQ Master: Aaron Franklin

Pork Butt vs Pork Shoulder Pulled pork from smoked pork butt

If you’re familiar with the art of BBQ, you likely already know about Aaron Franklin. He’s a true BBQ legend, hailing from Austin, Texas. Aaron’s journey into the world of BBQ began at an early age when his parents ran a small BBQ joint, sparking his passion for the craft. As a young adult, he honed his skills on a humble offset smoker, and word soon spread about his exceptional BBQ. Today, he is renowned worldwide for his mastery of the grill.

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Visiting Aaron’s restaurant in Austin is a pilgrimage for BBQ enthusiasts. Just be prepared for long queues that start as early as 3-4 am. Even then, there’s no guarantee you’ll get a taste of his mouthwatering creations. If you miss out, fear not! TJ Blacks BBQ offers an equally amazing experience with shorter lines.

Pork Butt or Pork Shoulder: The Debate

Let’s settle the infamous pork butt versus pork shoulder debate. While both cuts come from the shoulder area, they have distinct differences. The pork butt, located at the top of the shoulder, is my preferred choice for pulled pork. It offers juicier and more tender results compared to the leaner and tougher pork shoulder. To achieve the same results as this recipe, I suggest using a bone-in pork butt, also known as a Boston butt.

Unveiling Aaron Franklin’s Secrets

Wrapped Pork Butt

What sets Aaron Franklin apart is his commitment to simplicity. He doesn’t rely on complex rubs or extravagant ingredients. Instead, he allows the natural flavors to shine through, enhancing them with a few key techniques. His rubs typically consist of just salt, pepper, and paprika, and I wholeheartedly agree with his approach. A truly skilled cook can create an extraordinary dish with minimal ingredients, relying on the perfect combination of salt, pepper, fat, and heat.

Here are the key elements inspired by Aaron Franklin’s method:

Simple Ingredients

Start with a bone-in pork butt, minimally trimmed. Use a 50/50 ratio of kosher salt and coarse black pepper in your rub, adding some paprika for a vibrant color.

Tempting Temperatures

Aaron’s cooking style involves higher temperatures than the ones I’m accustomed to, typically ranging between 265-280°F. While I usually stick to 225-255°F, experimenting with higher temperatures has yielded fantastic results. It’s worth noting that Aaron’s higher temperatures may be more about efficiency than flavor, considering the large volumes he typically cooks. Nonetheless, I’ve been thrilled with the outcome following his method.

Fat Side Up, Exquisite Flavor

Following Aaron’s lead, smoke your pork butt with the fat side up. This method allows the fat to render beautifully, enhancing the flavor and juiciness of the meat.

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The Perfect Spritz

Like Aaron, I also enjoy spritzing my pork butts, ribs, and beef briskets. To keep things simple, use a spray bottle with a 50/50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and water.

Visual Cues

Aaron suggests that when the fat cap on the pork butt splits, it’s a sign that it’s time to wrap it in foil. In my experience, this usually occurs around the 7-8 hour mark. If your pork butt hasn’t reached this stage after 8 hours, slightly increase the temperature and wrap it in foil to maintain moisture and speed up the cooking process.

The Art of Wrapping

Yes, Aaron wraps his pork butt, and I’ve been converted to this technique. While I used to forgo wrapping altogether, I now swear by it. Wrapping in foil expedites the cooking time and helps render more fat while retaining essential moisture. You can also use butcher paper to maintain a crisper bark, but aluminum foil works just fine.

Resting: The Grand Finale

Resting your pork butt is nothing out of the ordinary. Aaron recommends resting the wrapped butt for about an hour, but I’ve found that 1.5 hours yields excellent results. As a general rule, I always rest large cuts of meat to allow the flavors to harmonize.

The Smoky Magic Unveiled

Temp Probe checking pork butt

Here’s a breakdown of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to smoking pork butt:

What’s the Best Wood for Smoking Pork Butt?

Following Aaron Franklin’s recipe, stick with oak wood, particularly post oak if you can get your hands on it. If you’re feeling adventurous, try experimenting with fruit wood like pecan to add a unique twist.

How Long Does It Take to Smoke a Pork Butt?

Plan for approximately 10 hours of total cooking time. Smoke it unwrapped at 265°F for about 8 hours, then wrap it in foil and cook for an additional 2 hours at 280-300°F. This timeframe has consistently delivered succulent results. Remember, the internal temperature is the ultimate determining factor, not the clock!

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What Internal Temperature Indicates Doneness?

Once you approach the 10-hour mark, aim for an internal temperature of 203-205°F. Invest in an instant-read probe thermometer to ensure precision in your BBQ endeavors.

How to Tell When Smoked Pork Butt Is Done

Personally, I use the Thermapen One to gauge doneness. The meat should offer minimal resistance when pierced, and the temperature should hover around 203°F. It should be tender enough to shred by hand, but if you’re feeling adventurous, grab a pair of meat claws for some extra fun.

Pulled Pork Perfection

Aaron Franklin Inspired Smoked Pork Butt Recipe

Now that your magnificent pork butt is ready, it’s time to elevate it to a whole new level. Keep it simple and let the flavors shine by pairing the pulled pork with Brioche-style buns. Whip up a tangy, Texas-style homemade BBQ sauce and add some jalapenos for an extra kick. Experiment with different toppings to find your perfect pulled pork sandwich style.

The Perfect Sidekick: Mac and Cheese

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but mac and cheese is the ultimate companion for pulled pork. Elevate this classic side dish by smoking it to infuse it with delightful smoky flavors. Trust me; your taste buds will thank you.

Leftover Magic

After savoring this incredible feast, you’re likely to have some leftover pulled pork. Don’t let it go to waste! Explore our favorite leftover pulled pork recipes or vacuum seal it for future enjoyment. The possibilities are endless.

Wrapping It Up

Now that you have all the secrets to crafting an unforgettable smoked pork butt, it’s time to put your newfound wisdom to the test. Follow the recipe below, and we guarantee you’ll be delighted with the results. Don’t forget to share your experience and leave your comments below. Good luck on your BBQ journey!


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