Slowing cooking a boston butt in the AGA is an easy way make moist pulled pork for sandwiches. However it is difficult to get a smokey flavor. I have tried smoked salt but the meat does’t absorb the smoke flavor very much.
I decided to do a hybrid smoke – smoke the butt on a smoker then finish off in the AGA. I remember learning that the meat only absorbs the smoke flavor only the first 2 hours of the smoke. Therfore my plan is to season the meat, smoke it with hickory for the first 2 hours, then transfer it to a dutch oven and complete the cooking process in the simmer oven until it was finished – i.e. the internal temperature reached 195 degrees.
I used a Carolina rub which consisted of equal parts salt, brown sugar, ground cumin, ground black pepper and 1.5 parts paprika and 1/3 parts cayenne pepper. For a small 4 pound butt I found that a tablespoon for base measurement was perfect.
Then it was off to the smoker for a 2 hour smoke with hickory. The fat cap goes up. Hickory is a strong wood and too much create a bitter taste. I use an old Brinkmann All-in-One propane smoker and threw 2 handfulls of soaked hickory chips on the rocks.
The butt came off the smoker straight into the Le Cruset dutch oven, covered, and into the simmer oven for at least 2 hours before checking the tempurature.
In total this butt needed 2.5 hours in the simmer oven to reach 195 degrees. I pulled the fat cap off, separated the muscle groups with tongs and pulled the meat with the edge of the knife and chopped where necessary. The meat was moist and you could see the dark pink smoke ring under the surface.
The meat rendered about 3/4 of an inch of water in the dutch oven. I discarded the liquid because it was making the house smell like a BBQ pit. I should have reserved a 1/4 cup to mix in with the meat after pulling it – not for moistness but to save some of that flavor. I hated to see it go down the drain.
I prefer the vinegar-based sauces. For sauce I will make either Carolina Red Sauce which is a South Carolina recipe or a North Carolina Vinegar Sauce. The main differences are the SC has ketchup and is not heated when prepared.
Happy Cooking! AGA Bloga