Smoking Pork Butts on a Charcoal Grill
If you have a Kettle BBQ, or any Charcoal BBQ with a lid, and Adjustable Venting: You can use it as a Smoker: try Smoking Pork Butts on a Charcoal Grill!
“Barbecue” means different things to different people, so let’s define a few terms:
The way most of us cook steak or hamburgers is known as “Grilling”. Grilling involves cooking meat with direct heat, cooking directly over the coals or heat source.
Cooking with coals using indirect heat is “Barbecue”.
Smoking involves Indirect Heat and Hardwood Smoke. Depending on the method and equipment you use; Smoking can be considered a form of Barbecue.
Most Professionals agree that the ideal temperature for smoking is somewhere between 200 to 240 degrees; although this topic is constantly debated!
Some Experts will tell you that the only way to Smoke Meat properly, is with a Wood-Fired-Smoker. And there are a whole bunch of fishermen that will tell you: “Eletric Smokers do the best job”.
Well I am here to tell you: If you season and/or brine your meat properly, and can regulate the temperature*, moisture, smoke and cooking time adequately; you can use just about any contraption you can come up with as a Smoker. We bought some Smoked-Stuffed Clams form a kid on the Beach at San Martin, Baja Mexico, and all he had was a broken-down Refrigerator with a fire built inside!
*If you don’t have a thermometer built in to your BBQ; it is worthwhile to install one. You can get a low-priced thermometer at Home Depot, drill one hole in the lid of your BBQ, insert the themometer, add a nut & washer: done!
The process I use for Smoking Pork Butts in a BBQ is as follows:
1. Soak 5 or 6 cups of Hardwood Chips in water for 2 hours.
2. Rub down two 5 pound Pork Butts using about 1/4 cup of Roger’s Original Dry Rub Seasoning for each Butt. Let the Butts rest for one hour, at room temperature, before Smoking.
3. When the Hardwood Chips are done soaking: Start a full load of charcoal in a “Chimney” type starter, using paper as fuel: never use lighter fluid to start charcoal when using it for Smoking!
4. When the charcoal is glowing 3/4 of the way up the chimney: dump it out in a pile on the bottom grate in your BBQ; just let it sit there for a few minutes.
5. Spread the coals to the outside edge of the grate, leaving a hole in the center big enough for an aluminum pie pan.
6. Take two pieces of foil and make an X centered over the “hole” in the coals. Place a pie pan on the center of the X, press the pan down using a hot-pad or mit, and fill the pie pan with boiling water.
7. Now, carfully fold the foil to the center, taking care not to tip over the pie pan or spill the water, spread half of the soaked hardwood chips over the hot coals, fold the foil back from the center, over the top of the coals and hardwood chips.
8. Place the cooking grill on the BBQ, the same way you normally would when grilling, place your Dry Marinated Butts on the center of the grill, over the pan of water.
9. Close the lid on the BBQ, leaving the vents opened all the way. When the smoke starts bellowing out of the vents, close them down most of the way and watch the temperature. Adjust the vents to achive 220 to 230 degrees.
The coals will need to be stirred after about 1 1/2 hours:
Place a clean 5 gallon bucket next to the BBQ; Remove the grill from the BBQ; Place the grill, with the meat still in place, on top of the bucket to rest there while you stir the coals; Fold the foil back to the center; Stir the coals and leave the lid off the BBQ until the coals get going again; fold the foil back down; add more boiling water to the pie pan; place the grill back on the BBQ and cover; adjust the vents again to desired temperature.
After another hour & a half, you will need to add more coals, stir the coals, and add more hardwood chips. So after 1 hour has passed, start a fresh batch of coals, when the coals are ready, follow instructions for stirring the coals with these variations: stir the coals; add fresh coals; add the rest of the soaked wood chips; continue instructions above.
After about 1 to 1 1/2 hours more, you can check to see if the meat is done: You can try to pull the bone out or insert two forks in the center and pull them apart; either way, if the meat pulls apart easily it’s done. If not: stir the coals and cover the BBQ for another hour.
This entire process can be completed in 6 to 8 hours depending on several factors, some of which you can control, and some you cannot. For example: You can do everything just right, but if the temperature outdoors is too hot or cold it can work against you. It does take some practice and sometimes a little luck, but once you get it figured out; the end result is worth the effort.
I have at least a dozen Smokers, some I have made, some I have purchased: but I still use this “BBQ Method” most often when I smoke Pork Butts.
The photos will be posted soon!
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