Bone-in Pork Butt with Green Apple and Crushed Hot Red Pepper

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Process: Involved
Cooking: Pork
Preparation: Long Cook (Over 2 hours)

Serves: 8-10

One 7-to-9 pound bone-in pork butt

At the 2005 World Pork Expo (aka the Great Pork BarbeQLossal), my first- ever competition, a barbecue vet came up to me and whispered, “Just think apple.” I never did get his name, but I did apply his advice. After all, apple is a very friendly flavor to pork. Yet I wasn’t just going to dump some apple juice in my sauce. I wanted to hit the flavor from many different angles. So along with apple juice and jelly, I used apple cider vinegar for its lively acidity and grated green apple for its freshness and crunch.

The effect borders on the subliminal: You’re not going to taste it and think, “Aha, that must be apple jelly!” But the warm, familiar association the flavors conjure up makes this dish a winner. Plus, the crushed red pepper in there creates a rollercoaster of flavor: Some bites bring a rush of heat, which mellows during the next few bites only to come roaring back.

Oh, and did I mention that I won Grand Champion?


3 cups apple juice
11⁄2 cups water
6 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Maggi Seasoning or Japanese soy sauce

Mustard Moisturizer
6 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
6 tablespoons water
11⁄2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
11⁄2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Seasoning Blend
1⁄4 cup mild chile powder, preferably Chimayo, Ancho, or Hatch
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
11⁄2 teaspoons dry mustard
3⁄4 teaspoon garlic salt
3⁄4 teaspoon coarsely ground fresh black pepper
3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
About 1⁄4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 cup Apple Juice Spray

Wrapping Mixture
1 tablespoon (1⁄2 ounce) unsalted butter or margarine, melted
1⁄4 cup honey
1⁄4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1⁄4 cup prepared yellow mustard
1⁄4 cup water

BBQ Sauce
1 cup APL BBQ Sauce, or your favorite BBQ sauce
1 cup apple jelly
1 green apple, peeled, and grated on a Microplane grater
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon crushed hot red pepper flakes
Fleur de sel


1. Combine the injection ingredients, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Place the pork in a baking dish or disposable aluminum pan. Working in a grid pattern, inject the pork butt with an injecting needle. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.

2. Preheat an indirect barbecue with a drip pan and fruitwood (preferably apple), a ceramic cooker with deflector plate and fruitwood (preferably apple), or a charcoal or gas grill with a box or packet of fruitwood (preferably apple) to 250°F.

3. Lightly pat the butt dry with paper towels. Combine all of the mustard moisturizer ingredients. Combine all of the seasoning blend ingredients. Lightly moisten the entire surface area of the pork with the moisturizer, sprinkle lightly with the seasoning blend, and using your hands or a brush, blot all sides to evenly, but lightly, coat with canola oil. (The remaining seasoning blend will be used later in the cooking.) Place a remote thermometer in the thickest part of the butt, avoiding contact with the bone.

Cooking Method

4. Place the meat, fat side down, in the cooker, until the internal temperature reaches 130°F, about 3 hours.

5. Spray with the apple juice spray and continue to cook until the internal temperature reaches 160°F, about 3 hours.

6. Meanwhile, combine the wrapping mixture ingredients. Tear off 2 sheets of heavy- duty aluminum foil and place over a baking dish or disposable aluminum pan, preferably a 131⁄2 × 95/8 × 23⁄4-inch lasagna pan.

7. Remove the pork from the cooker, take out the thermometer, place the meat on the foil, pour over the wrapping mixture, and double wrap in the foil. Reinsert the thermometer, avoiding the bone, and transfer the wrapped pork in the pan back to the cooker. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 193°F, 21⁄2 to 3 hours.

8. Meanwhile, line a small cooler with a beach towel, or other large towels, to insulate the inside of the cooler.

9. Remove the pork from the cooker. Take out the thermometer, wrap the foiled pork completely in plastic wrap, place back in the baking dish or disposable pan (use a clean pan if there has been any leakage), and transfer the pork in the pan to the cooler. Fold over the towel to cover. Close the cooler, and let rest for 1 hour.

10. Place a cooling or other flat rack inside a baking dish or disposable pan that will hold the pork butt. Remove the butt from the cooler and carefully unwrap on a sheet pan. At this point the meat will be very tender. Carefully transfer to the rack in the pan and sprinkle moderately with the seasoning blend. Place the pan with the pork back in the cooker for 30 minutes.

11. Meanwhile, combine all of the BBQ sauce ingredients.

12. Remove the pan from the cooker and drizzle the meat on all sides with the barbecue sauce. Place back in the cooker for 20 minutes to tighten up the glaze.

13. Remove the pork butt from the cooker and spray with apple juice spray. Using bear paws (see Sources page 378) or heat- proof gloves, pull the pork, being sure to leave some in a semipulled, semichunk state. Mix with about half a cup of the remaining sauce and season with fleur de sel.

© 2009 APL Creative Inc from Serious Barbecue

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