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20 lb. Pork Butt needs to be turned into pulled pork...help!

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First of all, my only experience with creating pulled pork is with a small (2 lb. ish) crock pot method. That being said, we are having a party Sunday and I may have stuck my foot in my mouth saying we'd make pulled pork sandwiches! We are having anywhere from 15-25 people over for football Sunday so we are doing our homework now. We found a 20 lb. pork butt slab very reasonably priced and that is what we plan to purchase. Is that way too much? I'm totally fine with having a fair amount of leftovers!

Anyway, It is a 20 lb. boneless pork butt that we plan to cook in a portable electric roaster oven and am basically looking for tips to help walk us through the process. This is what I know/may choose to do, so far...

*Put a rub recipe all over the meat, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight (or at least a few hours)
*Place the meat in the roaster on the rack it came with (for even cooking) and add a liquid component?? (we've read everything from just water, to lots of other recipes, such as cider vinegar and apple juice).
*Cook on a low temp for a loooong time. Basically I read that anything under 300 is ok. So hmmm, how about 250? Then use one of those wireless thermometer thingys (which we do have, yay!) to monitor the internal temp (which needs to get up to 195-200). Then take out, let stand, then shred.

Does that sound good? The part that I worry about is the amount of time needed? If we want it by game time on Sunday, when should we start? Saturday..a full 24 hours early? or is that too much time? Also, any tips or ideas would be much appreciated!

Thank you!!!

p.s. my boyfriend wants a homemade bbq sauce that incorporates jack daniels. Any good recipes?

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  1. I once was part of a team that cooked 80 pounds of pulled pork for a school bbq. I was given a 20 lb. butt that was already dry-rubbed, IIRC. I cut it in half, put each one into a 12" cast-iron frying pan with maybe 2 cups of apple cider in each, covered them in foil with a couple of holes punched in it, and stuck them in my oven overnight, I think set at 225 degrees. Then I gave them back to our fearless leader to shred. They came out great. The only mistake I made was to spill a lot of the accumulated fatty juices onto my kitchen floor when taking one of them out of the oven the next day. I had enough juice in the second pan for it to be moist and taste great, it was just that I had to scrub the linoleum a lot before I got rid of the oil slick.

    1. If you have a grill, smoke it for the first two or three hours at 225 to 250 over hickory and maple chips. Then transfer to electric oven to finish. At 225, you need about an hour per pound.

      1. http://amazingribs.com/recipes/porkno...

        That link will help and there are others the site that will guide you through cooking it in the oven. If you do just one thing, cook it low and slow.

        1. Here's how I do it - and I've done a 20-lb. piece more than once. Nothing could possibly be easier.

          I know that some people will disagree with me, but the first thing I do is trim off the skin, leaving a layer of fat over the pork. (I think this allows the rub to soak into the meat better.) Next, dry rub it with whatever you like (I make a mixture of salt, pepper, sugar, cumin, smoked paprika and ground chilies). You can either do this ahead of time or not - I've done it both ways and to be honest, never noticed a big difference. Place the meat in a large roasting pan in one piece. Put in the oven at 250o - don't cover it or anything. Then just forget about it for 10 to 12 hours. I generally let it go overnight. Then take it out of the oven and pull the pork - it should be absolutely fork tender and perfect. Add whatever sauce you want at this point. I also slightly de-fat the juice that comes out of the meat and add that also because it's full of flavour. For serving you can put the pulled pork into crock pot to keep warm.

          And no, 20 lbs. isn't too much. Guaranteed.

          1. If its 20 lbs boneless, I doubt its a butt, at least not under the general definition of such, which is the upper portion of the shoulder. Boneless butts generally top out at around 7 - 8 lbs, usually less.

            Sounds like you've got a boneless fresh ham. Which can make dandy barbecue, but isn't as good for pulled pork as the shoulder due to the different muscle structure and far less connective tissue and interior fat. Which, in turn, means you cook it considerably less and to a lower internal temp than a butt -- I destroyed a porchetta made with a whole fresh ham by wildly overcooking it.

            I'd suggest you get as many 6 - 8 pork butts (aka Boston butt) as you need (bone-in works better IMHO) and go from there.

            4 Replies
            1. re: rjbh20

              I agree...The biggest butts I ever see ( ! no, not snooki or a kardashian...the pork is much smarter !) are around 15lbs, and when I smoke those, it's an all day event. Plan a long cook time, maybe even consider cutting in half to speed'er along

              1. re: BiscuitBoy

                A whole shoulder - if that's what this is - can be 20 lbs. I just bought one a couple of weeks ago. Not clear exactly what the OP has.

                1. re: Nyleve

                  You bought a whole shoulder (butt + shank, aka picnic or calais) that was boneless and in one piece? Never seen one of those.

                  1. re: rjbh20

                    Bone-in. All one piece. It's freaking gigantic.

            2. We usually do them at 225. I've also been known to cut large ones up into 1/4s so that they cook faster.

              1. Figure 1/3 pound pulled pork per person plus a few extra pounds for those big eaters..so around eight to nine pounds of finished product. If you're looking at the standard eight-pound or so butt you'll have about 1/3 waste including bone, fat etc., so a standard two-pack butt is appropriate. You can always freeze leftovers. You most likely have a two-butt cryovac pack; a single 20-pound butt would be a rarity.

                Rub...putting on lots of rub and leaving it overnight can make it taste rather hammy. On cook day trim off excess fat, rub it all over with plain yellow muster and apply rub liberally; don't rub it in, just sprinkle all over. The mustard simply makes the rub stick and in cooking denatures and doesn't taste like anything.

                Put the butt in a roasting rack in a drip pan and cook at 225F to 250F just about forever. It'll feel that way. It'd be nice if you could smoke it a few hours but if you can't that's just the way it is. Figure about 1.5 hours or so per pound, more if you peek, and at least an hour resting/cooling time. That time refers to the largest hunk of meat you're cooking, not the total weight of all the hunks. You're right to take it to 195F or so.

                All butts are different; some cook surprisingly quickly and some take much longer than expected so you should allow plenty of time. It's done when it's done. You can hold the pulled meat it a foil-covered pan in a very low oven.

                1. If you have a regular oven, stick 'em in a roasting pan or dutch oven,, cover, and cook in your oven overnight at 200. If you want you can run it under the broiler at the end to get it browner. I usually pull 'em half way first, then broil. Comes out great and it's practically the easiest meal you can prepare.

                  1. If it's all in one piece I'd be trying to break it down into three or four chunks. A 20 pounder is going to take a while to cook. You can of course cook at higher temps, 300F or so and even higher; the result isn't the same but certainly wouldn't be bad.

                    1. Cook in low oven, once the center temp hits 185 its at the right texture for pulling.