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Many people who don’t have a lot of experience with smoking equipment don’t know how to avoid smoking pork butt raw inside. Pork butt, despite its name, is a roast that comes from the shoulders of the pig. The meat is commonly braised, roasted or smoked, and the meat is often used as pulled pork for barbecue, sausages and stews.
Smoking pork shoulder for pulled pork barbecue is an ideal way to get moist, tender meat and smoky flavor, but the process can grind to a halt if you discover raw meat in the middle of your roast. Therefore, you can use meat thermometers to help you to tell if the smoking pork butt has cooked.
Why Pork Butt Is Preferred for Smoking?
Pork butt, also known as Boston butt, is the ideal cut of meat for the southern-style barbecue. The meat, which comes from the upper shoulder, is ideal for absorbing smoky flavors and becoming fork tender from the slow smoking process that breaks down cartilage and muscle fibers to roast the meat to perfection.
Pork butt also absorbs flavors from a wet or dry rub more efficiently than other cuts of meat. The roast, which can be boneless or bone-in, has a mild flavor that’s a perfect foil for your favorite spice mix. However, it’s critical to avoid pork butt raw inside.
Pork butt is preferred for smoking over other cuts of meat because of the southern tradition of enjoying pork barbecue made of tender, melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork. Some parts of the United States prefer beef brisket for barbecue, but it’s usually twice as expensive and easy to overcook.
Another reason why pork butt is preferred for smoking is simply tradition. The pulled pork was the original form of American barbecue in the South. The meat is preferred in the Carolinas, eastern Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and many other locations throughout the country, a tradition that has endured since the 17th and 18th centuries. Many Texans prefer pork butt barbecue, but many Texans prefer smoked brisket. Lots of people enjoy both types of barbecue.
Selecting a Good Pork Butt for Smoking
Selecting the right pork butt is important if you want a great roast or pulled pork barbecue. Pulled pork is the process of breaking the meat into small pieces with your gloved hands or two forks, and pork butt is the best cut of meat for this classic process. Some of the things to look for when buying your pork butt include:
- Whether you prefer a bone-in or boneless roast
- Finding a roast with a clear, pink-to-light-gray coloring
- Choosing a roast with lots of fat marbling for flavor and moist meat
- Whether the package contains a half butt or whole butt
- Choosing a supermarket cut that’s labeled “Pork Shoulder – Blade Boston Butt Roast Boneless”
It’s easy to make a mistake and choose a roast from the lower part of the leg, which is called whole pork picnic. Although both pork picnic and pork butt make good barbecue, pork butt is more widely available at a lower price. Don’t be afraid of a whole roast that’s not trimmed of fat. The fat is important for developing flavor during the long cooking process, and excess fat can be drained and trimmed away after smoking.
Some of the big box stores and regular supermarkets sell a whole butt in Cryovac packaging, but it’s usually cut into two separate roasts. If smoking both at the same time, you need to determine the weight of each piece to calculate the optimal smoking time for each piece. That’s one of the primary reasons that beginners undercook the larger portion of meat.
What Could Result in Smoking a Pork Butt That’s Still Raw Inside?
Obviously, Boston butt internal temperature plays a major role, The right thermometer, correctly placed in the thickest part of the meat, is the simplest way to prevent raw spots. Common smoking mistakes that can result in raw spots include:
- Choosing the wrong cut of meat
- Putting refrigerator-cold meat into the smoker
- Starting with heat that’s too high
- Failing to preheat the smoker to the proper temperature
- Failing to let the meat rest after removing it from the smoker, which continues the cooking process and allows the moisture to resettle within the meat
- Incomplete thawing of a frozen roast
How to Avoid the Pork Butt That’s Raw Inside
You can deliver consistent results from smoking pork butt by following a simple checklist and process. Remove the meat from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before putting it into the smoker. Preheat your smoker to the proper temperature. Adjust your cooking time based on the thickness of the meat, smoker temperature and whether the roast is boneless or bone-in.
Incomplete thawing of pork butt is a common mistake made by inexperienced barbecuing and smoking enthusiasts. A frozen roast takes 3-5 hours per pound to thaw in the refrigerator. It might take 3-4 days to thaw a large roast completely. If you discover that you’ve miscalculated thawing time, you have no choice but to increase cooking time by up to 50 percent.
Bone-in meat takes longer to cook because the bone doesn’t conduct heat as well as the meat does. You can better control your smoker’s temperature by opening or closing the vents and dampers. Ideally, you should keep the temperature between 225-degrees Fahrenheit and 250-degrees Fahrenheit. You might want to double-check your smoker’s temperature with a reliable smoker thermometer.
The most foolproof way to detect doneness in pork is to use a meat thermometer. The USDA recommends cooking pork butt to a minimum temperature of 145-degrees Fahrenheit. That might work for a roast, but you have to cook the meat to a higher temperature if you want the connective tissue to break down and tenderize the meat.
In that case, you should cook your roast to an internal temperature of 195-degrees Fahrenheit to 205-degree Fahrenheit. Most pulled pork aficionados recommend cooking pork butt to 195 degrees for the best results.
Choosing a ThermoPro Meat Thermometer is an ideal way to monitor the internal temperature of meat in a smoker. You can choose a wireless thermometer that provides an outside reading so that you don’t have to open the smoker and mess with the cooking temperature. ThermoPro also manufactures other thermometers for confirming smoker temperatures and monitoring meat temperature with cable-type thermometers.
How to Measure the Pork Butt Temp During Smoking
You need to use either a wireless or digital thermometer with an attached cable to monitor the correct internal temperature of your meat. You can cook pork butt to 145 degrees or higher, but the sweet spot for pulled pork is 195 degrees for fork-tender meat that pulls apart easily for traditional pork barbecue.
You should, insert the thermometer probe into the center of the thickest part of the roast, but make sure that the thermometer tip is at least an inch away from the bone. A high-quality thermometer will stay in place throughout the long cooking process and provide continuous monitoring of the roast’s internal temperature. If you feel that the smoker’s temperature is too low, you can increase the temperature setting or close the vents to increase heat.
You can make extraordinary barbecue and great roasts by smoking pork butt, but you have to pay attention to the temperature and be patient during the long smoking process. There’s really no method more accurate than using a highly functional thermometer like a ThermoPro Meat Thermometer. As long as you roast slowly, pay attention to cooking times and confirm internal temperature with an accurate thermometer, you’ll get a perfect roast.