Our original “Dizzy Pig Pulled Pork” recipe was posted on our website over 10 years ago, and is one of our most visited pages on our website. But we’ve competed in over a hundred competitions since then, so we figured it is time for an update!! The Dizzy Pig team has racked up top ten finishes in the “Pork Shoulder” category in well over half of the contests we’ve competed in, and we’ve had plenty of time to dial in our flavor profiles and technique.
This recipe is a culmination of all those awards the Dizzy Pig team has won over the years while cooking about two tons of pork butts. I always like to remind folks that there are many roads to delicious barbecue and endless possibilities for flavoring, so feel free to add your own twist. But this is how we (and many other professional BBQ teams) make the toughest judges happy with Dizzy Pig.
- 1 7-10 lb. Boston Butt (sometimes called Pork Shoulder Blade Roast
- 2-6 chunks Your favorite DRY smoking wood. Hickory is a natural on Pork
- 2 cups Pork Stock (preferably home made with fresh pork bones)
- 2 Tbsp MSG
- 4 Tbsp raw cane sugar (Turbinado, Demarera)
- 2 Tbsp coarse Kosher salt
- 6 Tbsp Dizzy Pig Crossroads
- Also excellent: Dizzy Pig Dizzy Dust, Raging River, Swamp Venom
- Wrap Liquid
- 1/2 cup Pork Stock
- Leave fat cap on, but trim excess fat, silver skin, and membranes from the rest of the pork butt. Optimally, you want the rub to build a crust on the meat itself, so make sure and trim everything that is not meat.
- Inject marinade into all sections of the butt. I find it best to punch a hole and go in at an angle, then just before the needle pulls all the way out, insert at a different angle. The less holes you punch, the better.
- Re-inject any excess liquid that ends up in the pan.
- Apply a light dusting of coarse Kosher salt all over the butt.
- Apply a heavy coating of Dizzy Pig Crossroads (or your favorite Dizzy Pig blend) and press in with your hands, until entire butt is covered.
- Cover and rest for at least 30 minutes, and up to 3 hours.
- Preheat your grill/cooker/smoker, with charcoal and hickory chunks, to 240°F with an indirect setup (drip pan between meat and fire)
- Wait for smoke to turn blue, thin and make sure it smells good. Strong smoke can overwhelm the flavor of your pork and make it very dark in color. This can take an hour or more sometimes.
- Place pork butt in cooker fat cap down (assuming your heat is coming from below).
- Cook at 240°F for 8-9 hours, or until the exterior has a rich brown crust, and the temperature in the center of the butt is approximately 165-170°F.
- Remove from cooker and double wrap in heavy duty aluminum foil, adding 1/2 cup of pork stock.
- For a little extra layer of flavor, grind a couple teaspoons of Dizzy Pig Crossroads Seasoning finely and add to liquid.
- Return to cooker and cook until 195°F internal temperature in the center.
- Check for tenderness. The meat should wiggle a little like jello, and be very tender to your temperature probe. If still not tender, return foil-wrapped butt to cooker and cook 15 more minutes and repeat tenderness check. It is not uncommon to need to cook to 200°F or 205°F internal.
- When fully tender, remove from EGG, cover with towels, a blanket or place in cooler to rest for at least 1 hour and up to 4.
- Pull, shred, chop or chunk to your preference. Add salt, fine ground rub to taste.
When selecting meat from the shoulder, whether it be the picnic, the Boston butt, or the whole shoulder, it is a good idea to use a reliable meat packer or butcher that you know gets pork from a good source. Make sure the meat is all-natural. The easiest way to ruin your barbecue is to purchase an enhanced piece of meat. Avoid anything that says “self basting” or “injected with a solution”.
Pork is not graded like beef, so it is even more important to know what you are looking for. The meat should be reddish pink, and not light pink. The fat cap should be pearl white, and the meat should have plenty of internal fat. Analyzing the fat content in pork takes a little practice because it all looks fatty to the untrained eye. It always helps to have several to compare. You’ll start noticing the fat in certain muscles. Unlike beef, the fat is not always in straight lines embedded in the grain, it is more of an irregular marbling pattern. Try and look at the same muscle in each piece you compare, and you’ll notice that some are way more marbled than others. Some of the main “veins” of fat will be thicker. Once you see it, it will be obvious that the hog was eating well and not skipping breakfast. A fat pig is a happy pig, and a happy pig tastes good!
I like to leave the entire fat cap on, which I place on cooker facing down. The fat cap protects the meat from the heat coming from below. Everything else on the butt gets trimmed down to meat. Trim excess fat, silver skin, and membranes from the rest of the pork butt. Optimally, you want the rub to build a crust on the meat itself, so make sure and trim everything that is not meat. The rub, the smoke, the juices from the meat all work together to create a beautiful and flavorful crust. The last thing you want is to have that amazing crust on a membrane or chunk of fat that slides off when you are pulling.
Injections can impart some great flavors into the depths of your meat and help a little with moisture content of the final product. Over the years I have found it is easy to put too much flavor into your pork. Pork, after all, tastes pretty damn good. So I stick with pork stock, salt and sugar. Pork loves salt and a little sweetness, and you can’t go wrong with a little more pure pork flavor! You may want to put your own twist on this, but I recommend starting pure, then adding flavors later based on your liking. It can’t hurt to throw in a TBSP or so of MSG if you do that kind of thing.
There are lot of muscles in a pork shoulder, so inject marinade into all sections of the butt. I find it best to punch a hole and go in at an angle, then just before the needle pulls all the way out, insert at a different angle. The less holes you punch, the better. Re-inject any excess liquid that ends up in the pan.
It is pretty hard to over-salt a pork butt, and salt enhances pork beautifully. Also, Dizzy Pig seasonings do not have a ton of salt in them. So I apply a light dusting of Coarse Kosher Salt all over the butt.
Now for the seasoning. The butt will probably still be damp with a thin layer of the injection on the outside, which is the perfect amount of moisture to help the rub adhere. Apply a heavy coating of Dizzy Pig Crossroads or your favorite Dizzy Pig blend (Dizzy Dust, Raging River, Swamp Venom are also excellent) and press in with your hands, until the entire butt is covered. It is hard to put too much on, and the long cook will not only build your luscious crust, but will mellow and round out the spices to create a perfect flavorful bark. Once applied, give the seasoning some time to set up and “melt in”. Cover and rest for at least 30 minutes, and up to 3 hours. May as well do this before you fire up your cooker.
As with flavoring, there are so many different ways to cook a pork butt. We’ve tried them low and slow for 14 hours at 225°F without wrapping. We’ve also tried a hotter, faster method at 350°F for 4 hours, then wrap for 2 hours and rest for 2 hours. And we’ve tried everything in between. We’ve settled in on 240°F for our cooking temp, and just enough time in the foil to complete the rendering of the fat and collagen for perfectly tender and moist results. Whatever you find works best on your particular cooker is the right method. The goal is to get good clean smoke flavor, and build up a rich brown crust before wrapping in foil to finish the cooking and rendering without losing an moisture.
Preheat your grill/cooker/smoker, with charcoal and hickory chunks, to 240°F with an indirect setup (drip pan between meat and fire). Wait for the smoke to turn blue, thin and make sure it smells good. Strong smoke can overwhelm the flavor of your pork and make it very dark in color. If it smells strong and burns your eyes, your fire needs a little more time to dry the wood enough so it burns cleanly.
Place pork butt in cooker fat cap down (assuming your heat is coming from below), and cook at 240°F for 8-9 hours, or until the exterior has a rich brown crust, and the temperature in the center of the butt is approximately 170-175°F. The smells coming off will be absolutely unbelievable…the rich brown Dizzy Pig crust, the succulent fatty pork.
Remove from cooker and double wrap in heavy duty aluminum foil, adding 1/2 cup of pork stock. You’ll want good wide pieces so you can wrap tightly so no steam escapes. For a little extra layer of flavor, grind a couple teaspoons of Crossroads seasoning finely and add when you wrap.
Return to cooker at 240°F. Since the moisture will not be able to evaporate from the meat, the temperature will rise quickly once wrapped, and 1-2 hours should be all it takes to reach 195°F internal temperature in the center. It is not necessarily done at this temp, so check for tenderness. The meat should wiggle a little like jello, and be very tender when poked with your temperature probe. If still not tender, return foil-wrapped butt to cooker and cook 15 more minutes and repeat tenderness check. It is not uncommon to need to cook to 200°F or 205°F internal. When fully tender, remove from your smoker, cover with towels, a blanket or place in cooler.
The pork has probably been cooking a total of 10 or 11 hours by now, but it’s not quite done. I don’t understand, or need to understand, the science of why, but an hour rest makes a lot of difference in the texture of the final product. And a rest of 3 hours is also totally acceptable. You really have a range of 1-4 hours and this is great, because sometimes the cooking takes longer or shorter than expected. So the rest is the perfect place to make up for the differences in cooking times. If it is done late, do a shorter rest. If it is done early, do a longer rest.
Well, the time has come. The Dizzy Pig pork butt has received much love, then enjoyed a good comfortable rest. It is ready to be served!! Nothing beats meat that has been freshly pulled apart, and while time has been your friend during the entire cook, now you are working against the clock! The sooner you can get the moist chunks and strands of pork into the mouths of your family, friends or judges, the better. Plan accordingly so that you are pulling and serving at the same time, and the product will be that much better.
Barbecue smoked pork butt is served many ways, and many folks prefer to take big giant forks and shred everything into a pile. And there is nothing wrong with that!! We take it a step further, and pull the meat by hand to get a nice mixture of chunks and pulled strands. There are many types of heat resistant gloves available, and they are very helpful when your meat is still very hot. Once you dig in with your fingers, you’ll see and feel the muscles pulling apart. My favorite method is to separate the muscles first, pulling off and discarding any leftover membranes, pockets of fat and chunks of cartilage. It will become clear which pieces get pulled, and which chunks get served whole.
This is your chance to add any additional flavor as well. Could it use another dash of salt? Does a sauce you have compliment the meat and fit with what else you are serving? Does it need a little hit of black pepper heat or cayenne?
We hope that Dizzy Pig, combined with some of our time tested competition secrets, can elevate your pork to another level. Please let us know what you think!