Who doesn’t enjoy a tender, juicy, smoked Boston butt? A Boston butt is the portion of pork shoulder above the standard picnic cut.
The name originates from when lesser cuts of pork were placed in large wooden barrels called butts for storage.
The butchering techniques for this cut of pork originated in New England and Boston, hence the name. Traditionally, a Boston butt takes all day to smoke.
Thanks to precise temperature control of both the smoker and meat, we have reduced the traditional smoking time by 7 hours while retaining all the flavor, most of the moisture, and the tenderness.
At What Temp Is Boston Butt Done?
USDA recommends cooking a Boston butt until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F to ensure food safety.
However, collagen-rich meat needs to be heated to a much higher temperature to dissolve the connective tissues in the meat.
Meat must reach a temperature of 195-205°F for the connective tissue to be dissolved, thereby tenderizing the meat.
Additionally, a low, stable cooking temperature is required to break down the fat. This makes the Boston butt moist and gives it a tender consistency.
Smoking tough cuts of meat, like some pork cuts, shanks, and brisket, makes carving them easier.
People who advocate for the “low and slow” approach generally recommend keeping a Boston butt’s internal temperature constant at 107°C (225°F) while cooking.
However, cooking a Boston butt at this temperature can take up to 18 hours.
This is not ideal if you have invited friends over for a meal at the last minute or if you have not had a chance to pick up a Boston butt from your local grocery store.
Cooking the Boston butt at a higher temperature will achieve the same results but faster.
Why do we recommend 195 degrees internal temperature?
If pork is portioned when it is below 170 degrees, it will not tear. This makes pulling pork for a pulled pork sandwich or burger impossible.
Pork must reach 195 degrees for shredding it to be possible. This is because you can only pull it after the collagen has dissolved.
How do I check the exact temperature?
You can use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the pork. If you are cooking the pork in a broth, the temperature will stop rising after 3 hours of cooking.
This typically occurs between 165 and 170 degrees and is referred to as a “stand.” At this temperature, the pork is safe to eat.
However, you will not be able to shred the pork, and the consistency will not be ideal.
It would be best if you started by raising the temperature to 275-300 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a lengthy approach and may take several hours.
Alternatively, you can use the Texas Crutch method. This involves wrapping the meat in foil while slow-roasting or smoking it.
To use this method, you should wrap your Boston butt in two layers of thick aluminum foil. This thick foil layer should not tear.
You can also brush the pork with a fragrant liquid before it is placed in the foil. Apple cider juice, apple cider vinegar, soft drinks such as cola or ginger ale, and beer are popular choices.
Place a meat thermometer inside the thickest part of the Boston butt so that you can monitor the internal temperature.
When the Boston butt reaches an internal temperature of 195 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the aluminum foil.
Place the Boston butt under the grill for 5 minutes so that a crispy crust can form. Remove the meat from the grill and allow it to rest for about twenty minutes before shredding.
Place a clean dishtowel over the meat so that flies do not land on it while it is resting. Carve or shred the meat, and once cool, refrigerate it.
While your Boston butt only needs to reach a temperature of 145°F to be safe to eat, we strongly recommend that you cook your Boston butt until it reaches 195-200 degrees.
This is because connective tissue in the pork will not be dissolved until the pork reaches at least 195°F.
If the connective tissue has not been dissolved, you will not be able to shred the pork easily, and it will be tough. The texture of the Boston butt will be suboptimal.
Let us know in the comments below how you cook Boston butt and whether our method worked for you. Thanks for reading!