We definitely prefer to use lump charcoal instead of briquettes. Lump charcoal alone will provide a nice smokey flavor, however briquettes, even competition smoking briquettes seem a little flat on the smoke flavor. If using briquettes we highly recommend also using smoking wood chips (ie. apple or stone fruit tree trimmings, hickory, pecan wood chips). Use your favorite sauce at the after you've smoked the pulled pork. If added while smoking, it will usually just get burned into the meat (not too tasty). For a more complex but tasty way to cook a smoked pulled pork, check out this recipe. If the smoker temp. sneaks up to 300°F (150°C), don't sweat it, pork butt is forgiving.
Servings: 8-16 servings (@ 1/2 lb. per serving)
4-8pounds(1.8-3.6kg)Pork Butt(preferrably bone-in, pork shoulder will work too)
Optional - fruit or nut wood cuttings or chips (if using chips-soak in water for @30 minutes before using)
Rinse and dry the pork butt with paper towels. If needed, trim off most of the fat cap, leaving the fat cap a just a bit more than 1/4-inch (7-8mm) thick. Generously season with salt and pepper.
Light charcoal (a chimney is our favorite method). If using a side smoker box, place the lit charcoal next to the side vent door (furthest from the grill), then stack the unlit charcoal going towards the grill (not on top of the already lit charcoal). Start with the vents open just a little bit.
Place the pork butt in the smoker and close door. After about 15 minutes, check the smoker's temperature. You'll want to keep the temperature between 225°-250°F (110°-120°C). Adjust the vents as needed (less air to cool the temperature, more to increase the heat).While smoking occasionally adjust the vents to keep the cooking temperature between 225°-250°F (110°-120°C). Add more charcoal or briquettes is needed. If using briquettes *see head note, two or three times during the smoking, add a handful of wood cuttings or chips on top of the lit charcoal. (Don't do this too much or else the meat will be overly smoky. Once every hour to hour and half is usually perfect).
Smoke for about 90 minutes per pound (4lbs for 6 hours, 6 lbs for 9 hours, 8 pounds for 12 hours), depending on the size of the pork butt and average temperature you maintained while smoking. Remove from the smoker when the internal temperature reaches 195°F - 205°F in the thickest part (but at least 1/2" away from the bone). If you can stick a fork into the meat and easily twist it, or if it is bone-in and the bone easily comes out, the pulled pork is ready.
After smoking, wrap in foil and let rest, preferably for about half an hour. (Some will rest in a room temperature cooler or cambro to give an even more tender finish). Shred with forks or by gloved hand if you prefer. Serve with your favorite sauce.