Pork butt is highly appreciated for its affordable price and the fact it turns out awesome when smoked or grilled. If you’re wondering when to wrap pork butt in the process, we’ve got you covered!
Pork butts and shoulders have a substantial amount of fat and marbling and it needs to be cooked low and slow for the best results. It helps to break down the connective tissues making it super tender and forces most of the fat to render away. The results are simply insanely good!
Wrapping pork butt offers several benefits if the timing is right. Keep reading to find out how this technique works, the internal and smoking temperatures, prep tips and more!
What Is Pork Butt?
Pork butt does not come from the rear of the pig, as the name might suggest. In fact, it’s cut from just above the shoulder.
Fun fact: Pork butt is closer to the shoulder than the cut known as ‘pork shoulder’ and is also called Boston butt. It sits right above the shoulder, close to the spine.
You might wonder, how did it actually end up being named pork butt. The original term of ‘Boston butt’ goes back to the colonial era. Back then, it was one of the least popular cuts and New England butchers used to pack them in barrels called ‘butts’.
The meat was transported to various locations and because it came from New England, it was named ‘Boston butt’.
Should I Wrap Pork Butt?
To understand the importance of wrapping pork butt, you also need to know how the cooking process takes place.
When the internal temperature of the meat reaches between 145 and 175°F, the meat starts to evaporate liquid. It actually will slow the cooking process as the evaporation almost cools the meat a bit, fighting against the heat of the grill. This phenomenon is known as the stall.
The stall can last between 2-6 hours. To help combat that, you can wrap the pork butt in a butcher’s paper to reduce the evaporation of liquid, as well as speed up the cooking process. The method of wrapping meat like this is called the Texas crutch.
We used this method for our smoked brisket and I am super excited about how it turned out, despite the shorter smoking time.
It’s definitely not mandatory, so in order to make the best decision, here’s how wrapping pork butt can help.
Faster Cooking Process
Typically, butcher paper or foil is used to wrap the pork butt and other large cuts of meat when smoking.
This helps preserve heat and allows for uniform distribution, essentially beating the stall. It also lets you crank up that temperature without the risk of burning the meat on the outside.
Wrapping pork butt offers a high humidity cooking environment, preventing the meat from drying out.
As a bonus, it will also retain the fat drippings, which means the meat will be more flavorful.
Protection From Heat And Smoke
Low and slow cooking allows the fat to render and the connective tissues to break down, making the meat tender and juicy.
It makes sense to protect the exterior while smoking, as the heat will distribute better and your pork butt won’t get an overly dry outer bark.
Most people enjoy a milder smoke flavor and that’s another thing wrapping pork butt can help with as it won’t continue to get the smoky flavor while it is wrapped. You’ll get plenty of flavor early in the process.
How To Wrap Pork Butt
The most important thing to know when wrapping is that it should be tightly wrapped without gaps or open spaces. You want a good seal so the moisture remains trapped inside.
Spritzing the meat with a liquid before wrapping is something many BBQ chefs swear by. The most popular choice is apple cider vinegar although other liquids can be used, such as water, apple juice, or even a wine or beer.
This technique keeps the outer bark moist during the cooking process. Some argue there is little-to-no difference in the final result. Feel free to try it both ways and see which one works best for you.
Step One: To wrap the pork butt, start cutting two pieces of foil or butcher paper several times larger than the butt. It can be deceptive, but the paper needs to wrap all the way around the meat with a bit extra for good measure.
Step Two: Place one sheet vertically on a flat surface and the other one on top, horizontally. They should overlap in the center.
Step Three: Place the pork butt in the middle of the foil fatty side up. This will make the fat drip all over the meat while cooking instead of accumulating at the bottom. Warning! The pork will be very hot, coming right off the smoker, so make sure to use meat claws or large tongs to handle it.
Optionally spritz the meat with apple cider vinegar.
Step Four: Fold both layers of foil or paper, several times and flip it over.
Step Five: Tuck the edges, making sure the pork butt is sealed and tightly wrapped before returning it to the smoker.
When To Wrap Pork Butt?
Knowing when to wrap the pork butt is just as important as the how.
I highly recommend you use an internal meat thermometer during the cooking process because the timing is based on the internal temperature.
The best time to wrap your Boston butt is when it reaches 160°F internally, but anywhere between 150 to 170°F will get the job done.
This is the temperature when large cuts of meat enter the stall. The exact timing also depends on how crispy you’d like the outer bark to be.
After unwrapping, the outer bark will crisp again, but only if it was already formed before wrapping.
Keep an eye on the outside of the meat, and the internal temp to decide the best moment for wrapping your pork butt.
Pork Butt Cooking Tips
If you never smoked or grilled pork butt before, check out our free printable Pulled Pork Temperature Chart.
It’s a straightforward guide for cooking all the popular cuts used for pulled pork, including the pork butt.
For those who don’t have a grill or smoker, we also have instructions for the oven, Instant Pot, and slow cooker.
I love the impressive variety of recipes you can make with pulled pork, so it’s always worth making extra and storing the leftovers.
When you need a quick and easy dinner, sheet pan pulled pork nachos can be a life saver! There are plenty of ways to jazz up this recipe with your favorite toppings.
Other quick pulled pork recipes I rely on when I’m too tired to cook anything fancy are these scrumptious pulled pork enchiladas, and loaded cast iron skillet pulled pork nachos.
Affordable, great for feeding a crowd, and very satisfying. What more could you ask?
Cooking pork butt at home just can’t get any easier and the results are delicious!
Wrapping pork butt is definitely optional and you can smoke it unwrapped with excellent results, just like we did.
The downside is the smoking process may take longer without wrapping. If you have time and patience, there’s no need to take these extra steps.
However, the Texas Crutch wrapping method is wonderful if you’re looking for a way to smoke large cuts of meat faster. It will also let you control the smoke flavor and the outer bark texture more easily.