If you’re getting into smoking meat, there’s a high chance you’re starting with pork butt. In fact, a pork butt is a popular option for experienced smokers too, because of its high-fat content and tender meat.
And when smoking pork butt, there’s one step you should not miss out on, which people call the “Texas Crutch”.
In simpler terms, this means wrapping your pork butt in foil at a certain time while it’s cooking. While some experts are skeptical about wrapping pork butt, we’ve tried it and the difference was incredible.
But when wrapping a pork butt, you need to make sure to do it at the right time. That way, you get the most out of this beautiful piece of meat and garner incredible tender and juicy results.
So, in this guide, we’re taking a look at the exact time of cooking to wrap pork butt, why you should wrap pork butt, and some other crucial tips that you need to know when cooking the meat.
Read on to learn more.
Most people agree that the best time to wrap a pork butt is at around 2/3rd of the total cook time. This would be when the meat reaches an internal temperature of around 150-170 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pork butt, despite its name, doesn’t come from the pig’s rear side. Instead, it’s actually closer to the shoulder than the actual “shoulder” pork cut. Historians say the history of this cut dates back to the colonial period when butchers would put less desirable cuts of meat into barrels to sell. These cuts were called “butts” and were the same cuts you can get at the butcher today.
These are thick cuts of meat with high-fat content and rich flavor. For the best results when smoking pork butt, we recommend smoking it for at least 80-90 minutes per pound at 275 degrees Fahrenheit. For a slower cook time, you can lower the temperature to 225 to give you more control, but smoking a 10-pound pork butt at this time can take around 24 hours.
So, if you’re smoking the meat for 24 hours, we recommend wrapping the butt in foil at around the 16-hour mark if you don’t have a meat thermometer. But if you plan on seriously getting into meat smoking, it’s best to get a meat thermometer for more precision and control.
If ask a group of expert meat smokers, they will likely be divided on how necessary it is to wrap a pork butt. But regardless of people’s opinions, you can get some really tangible results if you wrap the pork butt before it cooks.
The biggest benefit to wrapping the meat is that you seal and preserve all the juices. Instead of seeping out of the meat and onto the hot coals, the juices will stay inside the meat for longer, allowing the fat to render out better.
Additionally, leaving the pork unwrapped can also result in drier meat. Since the reason many people smoke pork butt for 24 hours in the first place is for the tender and juicy texture, wrapping your pork butt can ensure that you achieve those results.
Another important reason many chefs wrap pork butt is to reduce the cooking time. This is because the foil serves as a makeshift secondary oven for the meat, which means you won’t have to wait as long for the meat to cook and reach the desired temperature.
To make sure that you get the right temperature and your meat if fully cooked, we recommend using a meat thermometer. That way, you don’t end up taking the meat out when it’s overcooked or undercooked.
So, now that you know the importance of the Texas crutch when smoking your meat, there’s a high chance that you’re ready to head to your local butcher and start smoking. But remember, smoking a pork butt is an arduous process, and it gets it right, you need to follow all the steps properly.
Of course, there is room for creativity when it comes to flavors and techniques. However, there are consistent practices of chefs that ensure their meat is always tender, juicy, and contains just the right balance of flavors for guests.
In this section, we’ll be looking at some of the crucial steps when smoking pork butt that can make a large difference in the long run.
Smoking a pork butt starts with the rub. For the best results, we highly recommend rubbing the pork the day before you plan on smoking it and leaving the meat in the fridge overnight. That way, the meat has time to absorb all the flavors. And once you finish cooking it, you will taste the difference of leaving the rub on for a long time.
Everyone has their own recipe for rubs. You can ask your friends, research on the internet, or try to make your own by incorporating different elements of different recipes. But regardless of your rub recipe, it’s important that you give the meat enough time to absorb all those complex flavors before putting it on the smoker.
If you’re really pressed for time, you don’t exactly have to wait overnight. You can shorten the time to just a couple of hours if needed. And if you’re in a real rush, then the shortest amount of time you should give the meat is one hour. Since you’re going to spend an hour or so getting the smoker up to the right temperature anyway, this shouldn’t add too much time to the overall process.
Another thing to remember about the rub is to be generous when coating the meat. Remember, you want all the flavors to seep into the cut for the best results. So, if your pork butt weighs between 8-10 pounds, we recommend using at least ½ cup of rub. Additionally, to get the rub to stick better, you can also put a coating of your favorite mustard on the meat before applying the rub.
There are some people that choose to smoke their pork butt at 275 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the cooking time. While there’s nothing wrong with this method, most people recommend lower temperatures in between 185-225 degrees. That way, you have more control over the meat and the meat has more time to really develop the rich flavor and tender texture.
At around this temperature, the meat will cook at around 90 minutes per pound. However, if you have the bone-in pork butt, then it should take around 2 hours per pound. Before wrapping the meat, you have to wait for the pork butt to develop the signature bark first.
This won’t happen until the last couple of hours of the total cook time, so don’t rush. Additionally, there will come a point in the process where the meat’s temperature will stop rising. This is known as the stall and happens at around 150 degrees. This is completely normal and you just have to wait through it.
You already know the right time to wrap the meat and apply the Texas crutch, but now we’re going into some more details. First of all, you have to wait until the “stall” before wrapping the meat. That way, you know the meat is at the right temperature (150 degrees) and the bark has had the chance to fully develop.
To wrap the meat, you have to put it in between two high-quality pieces of foil. When we say high-quality, we mean it. You don’t want the foil to rip or tear while in the smoker, which can defeat the purpose of wrapping the meat. This usually happens with low-quality and cheap foil, so avoid them as much as you can for wrapping a pork butt.
The foil needs to be at least four times as long as the widest part of the pork butt. While you don’t need a ruler or anything, it’s always better to have more foil than insufficient foil. From there, you can place the foil on a clean countertop and set the first sheet of foil on top of the other.
Then, you can open the grill and place the meat on the built-in shelf on the smoker. If you don’t have one of these, you can just place it away from the heat. After that, place the meat on the foil with the fat side facing up.
Once the meat is on the foil, it would be a good idea to add a bit of apple cider vinegar to the mix. On top of that, you can also place a thin layer of apple cider vinegar on the foil as well. From there, you can start wrapping the foil around the meat tightly, leaving a bit of space for the final fold when you turn over the meat.
After wrapping it tightly, make sure to push out any air pockets with your hand. That way, you can make sure that the foil is wrapped tightly around the meat.
An alternative to foil is butcher paper. This won’t reduce the cooking time as much, but it will still preserve the juices and the bark.
While it might be tempting to dig in right after it reaches the desired temperature, you need to wait for the juices to redistribute themselves. This is known as the rest and is an unskippable step. Ideally, you want to rest the meat for at least 1 hour, but you can go as long as two hours if you have time.
And that’s all you need to know about wrapping a pork butt. While the jury is still out on whether or not it’s necessary, it does make a difference in the cook time and texture of the meat. So, if you plan on smoking a pork butt at home, you might want to try out this method for yourself!