Boston Butt, to brine or not to brine?

  • Regular Contributors

    I have brined the butts before smoking them & they are nice, especially when I had that little Alabama trick to the brine. On the other hand, I have just smoked them straight up too, with a dry rub only & was just as satisfied. The brined may have been a bit moister, but the straight up had that candy like taste on the outer edges. Has anyone else tried brining the butt & what are your thoughts on each method?

  • Walton's Employee

    @calldoctoday I’ve never brined them before, I inject them every time I do them! Similar to brining but I think it is more effective. My favorite is the Soluble Pa’s Black Bull Seasoning.

    Ok, I just have to ask, what is the Alabama trick? I’m guessing some sort of liquor but for the life of me I can’t figure out what it is!

  • Regular Contributors

    @jonathon Black Bull, the name makes it sound like it would be a winner. Yes, I have done the injecting as well. I forgot about that. I thought the overall flavor was a little better with the brine, then a pat down, & the dry rub to finish it off.
    The Alabama trick. Well, more like the Dave trick, but definitely from Alabama. Occasionally I will add a can of Buffalo Rock Ginger Ale to my brine or injection liquid. Buffalo Rock, to my knowledge only available in Alabama. It is some real serious stuff No liquor though, but serious stuff. Just about like what Coke used to be. You either like this stuff o you don’t. We like it. We have let some folks try it & they definitely did not like it. I have never found an in between. I have never found a Ginger Ale quite like it in all my travels either. A few have been close, maybe, but not there. I few folks thought that some particular variety might be similar, but them having not tried both the Buffalo Rock & their brand, there is no comparison. How they got the name Buffalo Rock in Alabama. either I don’t remember or never learned. It seems to me that it might have been some sort of Texas thing, probably because I am thinking of Buffalo Gap, Texas. But, the fact of the matter is it apparently started over 150 years ago, but in Alabama. Good stuff!

  • Walton's Employee

    @calldoctoday Okay, sounds like maybe one of the reasons behind it is the same reason some people insist on adding Coke (or maybe diet coke?) to there marinades. There is supposed to be something in it that helps the marinade penetrate deeper and more quickly into the meat. I have tried it twice, once with beef and once with chicken and I did not find that it made much of a difference. However, we did do Dr Pepper Ribs and they came out really really good, so maybe it is a cut by cut thing, or just a preference?

    As far as this Buffalo Rock Giner Ale goes, is it worth the $16.99 amazon wants me to pay for a 12 pack? I am betting it probably is, I love a good strong ginger ale! @Austin How about a will it BBQ with some Moscow Mules? We could play around with that?

  • Admin

    @jonathon Moscow Mules!! I’m sold. Will It BBQ is on the way soon for sure!

  • Regular Contributors

    @jonathon OK, I will buy all that! Buffalo Rock is really, really, really good if you like it & it is far better than any of the other allegedly real good ones. However, $16.99 a 12 pack? I don’t think so! We pay $3.49 a 12 pack & some times less than that if it is on sale. I would have a real hard time paying that kind of money for it. Something just does not sound right there! I wish you were a little closer or I had a building to inspect in your neck of the woods as I would bring you some.

  • Regular Contributors

    @austin Smoke it Baby, Smoke it!

  • Walton's Employee

    @calldoctoday well let us know if you ever have to come to Wichita for anything! I am sure I can find it cheaper somewhere else though I tried E-bay and that was $24.99!

  • Regular Contributors

    @jonathon I will definitely keep you in mind & you just never know where i could end up. But, mostly these days it ends up in the south east, but sometimes I get a surprise & if I get one you way, I will remember you. $16.99 & $24.99??? This stuff is good, but someone is making too much profit.

  • I have never brined ir injected. All my pork comes from sams club and is IBP a division of Tyson and has a good fat cap. Rub with 50/50 cookshack rib rub / spicey chicken rub and in the cookshack it goes until itemp is 195deg. Then shred and sweet baby rays original. Will make your tongue slap your brains out!

  • @calldoctoday I have never brined a pork butt. We used to inject them when we competed, but that was to impact as much flavor as we could in a small bite that a judge would take. For cooking at home, I don’t inject. But I do like more bark for pulled pork sammiches. So before cooking, I’ll remove the bone and butterfly the pork butt to get more surface area. I’ll slather it with mustard then apply black pepper and Head Country rub and into the smoker at 250 till it reaches about 165 internal temp. Then I’ll wrap it in double-layer of HD foil with a stick of butter on the top of the butt and sprinkle a good amount of brown sugar and more Head Country rub around the butt (on the foil, not directly on the butt) and then I’ll pour in about 1/4 cup of Old Orchard Apple Strawberry Banana Juice Cocktail. Wrap that back up tight and back into the smoker – I’ll take it to 202 if I’m going to be shredding it. When we competed, we would slice the money muscle into medallions – so I’d only take that butt to 190 so it would slice beautifully without falling apart.

    It’s probably hard to see my profile pic, but that was one of our turn-in boxes at a competition in Claremore, OK the year we took 2nd place in Pork (the team that took 1st place had a perfect score, so I’d take 2nd to a perfect score any day). Here’s a larger view of that pic.


  • Walton's Employee

    @sstory I upvoted your post for the use of “sammiches” and because you were nice enough to share your entire recipe for something that I am sure you spent a long time perfecting!

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  • E

    Here is a link to a website that has a handy Excel spreadsheet. It is, as it says a free non-commercial site.
    As for Waltons dropping the ball, I vote they are doing a great job.
    I think for all of us there are general guidelines, but unless you have a temperature and humidity controlled environment, both for the preparation, cooking (if you cook them) smoking, hanging etc, the results are bound to vary from batch to batch.
    Personally, I am searching how to get my home made smoked and dry cured pepperoni to the exact texture and firmness of Margarita pepperoni from the store.
    Through trial and error I have the flavor where I want it, but not the texture or firmness. I know time, temperature and humidity are all crucial, but the best I can do is in the basement and then subject to the environment that is there.
    I figure as long as I am not killing anyone or making anyone sick I am making progress. Thanks Waltons for all of the great information so far.
    Having said that, it would be nice to have your chart in an Excel spreadsheet.

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  • K


    Thanks Jonathon! One question tho! You eluded to 178 being high for a temp! Don’t you guys recommend setting the temp at 175 during the final stage to completion to internal temp? Three degrees shouldn’t make that much difference should it??

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  • K


    Sounds reasonable. Thanks for your input. Pulling the meat at 152 will make a big difference I bet! Thanks again.

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  • @Kinger Thanks for the information. Your process, other than going to 178, is on in my mind. The only thing I do differently is an ice bath for 20 minutes. Showering for 10 minutes, if you are running a cycle and a fan in your smoker can work, but I still think an ice bath would bring it down faster and more. Last time I did thick summer sausage it was down to 110 in 20 minutes, I also tried showering it at 2 minutes on 2 minutes off for 20 minutes and it was only down to 136 (ish) but i did not have a fan running on them.

    One more thing you might want to try, if you are stalled towards the end you can finish them up by putting them in a vacuum bag (I have done then hot, right from the smoker, some condensation in the bag but it still gets a good vac) and get some water going at around 165, it should get up to temp in under an hour depending on the thickness.

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  • @Newbe There might be some breaking down of the meat but this shouldnt cause you too many issues. I have bought pork butts fresh, then froze them then processed and froze the product again. The taste might not be the BEST possible but it certainly wont be bad.

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  • @vjbutler no problem let us know

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