parts of a pig

So You Wanna Pull Your Pork?

As promised last month, today we will go over how to cook yourself some tasty pulled pork BBQ. But before we get into cooking, let’s talk a bit about the buying- and by that I mean the cut of meat you are after when you go into the store. 

It seems the professional meat industry has decided they would like to confuse the novice buyer when it comes to purchasing pork products. What you are after is MOST TIMES referred to as a Boston butt. However, sometimes it is called a bone-in shoulder roast, Boston roast, pork butt roast, blade in butt roast, pork shoulder Boston butt, Boston-style shoulder, Boston shoulder, Boston-style butt, or fresh pork butt. 

One other thing to keep in mind is the pork butt comes from the front shoulder of the hog, not the butt (you know, the south end of a northbound hog) as the name would indicate. Please, don’t ask me why. 

In a pinch, you can also use a picnic roast for your pulled pork. Both cuts are from the front shoulder. (see illustration) I don’t like to use the picnic, they contain more scrap (fat and bone) than a butt, therefore, not as much yield for your efforts. To repeat, you can use a picnic just as you would a butt if you can’t find the Boston butt, your choice. 

If you are now waiting for me to explain to you the reasoning for all of this nomenclature by the meat industry you will be waiting a long time as I haven’t a clue as to why things are named as they are, and it doesn’t matter. What does matter is, how your offering tastes, and THAT we can do something about. 

You will need a few things in addition to the much-discussed pork butt to realize your dream of cooking award-winning pulled pork for your family and friends. Sauces, rubs, and even the meats, grill, or smoker you will need for this task are all available at Smoke’n Dudes BBQ Company, check them out for your barbeque needs. 

The important thing to keep in mind with whatever you are cooking is the ability to control and maintain your cooking temperature is paramount. (We will discuss smokers and grills at a later time) You have to be able to maintain a consistent desired temperature to cook your product. You will also need a reliable meat thermometer to know what is going on temperature-wise inside of your butt. Wait, that didn’t come out right, but you know what I meant. 

I have included my recipe below. To be honest, sometimes, I use the mustard slather, sometimes I don’t, either way; I think the result is just as tasty. In case you are wondering what “slather” means, Microsoft defines the word this way, “to spread something thickly or excessively on something else.” In other words, really slop it on.

One thing to keep in mind, once your butt is wrapped in foil, you can move it into your oven to finish it out. Wrapped in foil, you are no longer picking up any more smoke flavor, at this point, you are merely shooting for that internal finishing temperature of 195-205. You want this temp so that your pork pulls apart easily and is tender when gobbled up by your adoring fans. 

One additional thought to keep in mind during your first pork butt cook is to allow yourself plenty of time to complete the job. In other words, don’t invite a bunch of people over for a pulled pork dinner at 5:00 PM, then back up a few hours to figure out what time to put your butt on to start cooking figuring you will finish at 5 on the nose. This is not like cooking a steak or some chicken. 

You should plan to have your pork finished at 2:30-3:00 for a 5:00 feed. That gives you some wiggle room in case something goes sideways. Your butt will hold for a few hours after cooking. I like to take mine out of the oven or cooker, wrap the foil package with a large beach towel or blanket, then place the entire package inside of a cooler (without ice of course). Take it out and pull it apart about 4:40 then serve at 5:00, easy-peasy. 

Good luck, and let us know how it turns out! 

Check out George Hensler’s Pulled Pork Recipe


Do you have pulled pork questions? You can ask George Hensler at

If this BBQ blog made you want to try this pork dish out your self you can shop for BBQ smokers in Montgomery County Pa.

Craving pulled or other delicious BBQ meals? You can get our BBQ take out in Bucks County today!

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