When To Wrap Pork Butt 

Smoked Roasted Pork Butt Shoulder With Barbecue Sauce

Wrapping pork butt is like adding BBQ sauce to ribs. It’s essential.

Wrapping pork butt has many benefits. However, you can only reap the benefits of wrapping pork if you know when to wrap it. But before we get to wrapping pork butt, let’s discuss the definition of pork butt.

What is Pork Butt?

The name pork butt, also known as Boston butt, is very misleading. The name pork butt pork butt is the rear end of the pig.

However, this is untrue. Contrary to popular belief, pork butt is not the animal’s rear end.

Pork butt is a pork cut that originates from the animal’s upper back. Specifically, the pork butt sits just above the shoulder.

Because of its location, most individuals assume it’s a part of the shoulder. However, the pork butt is actually near the spine of the pig.

I know what you’re thinking. If it’s not the pig’s butt, why on earth is it called pork butt or Boston butt.

Most sources believe the name Boston butt came about during the colonial era. At this time, butchers in New England would stuff undesirable cuts of pork such as pork butt into barrels. The barrels were called butts.

The butts were shipped to other regions. However, since the pork was placed in butts and the barrels were shipped from Boston, New England, it became known as Boston butt. 

Of course, this is just one explanation of the name Boston butt. Some people do not believe this story is true. They argue that no other kind of food has been named after a shipping container.

Furthermore, Southern states were the big dogs in the pork industry during the colonial era. Therefore, historically speaking, this story may be inaccurate. Unfortunately, there is no evidence of a printed record of Boston butt until the late 1800 post-colonial era.

Nevertheless, even though the history of this great cut of pork is unclear, it is a delicious thing of beauty. Although it contains a hefty amount of connective tissue, the marbling sets this pork cut above popular cuts such as pork tenderloin or pork shoulder. Either way, pork shoulder needs to be cooked low and slow to get the most tender results.

Why Do You Wrap Pork Butt?

Wrapping pork butt has many benefits. For example, wrapping pork butt can seal in moisture, creating a more robust flavor, and speed up the smoking process.

Seals in Moisture

The pork is not wrapped until the last stage of the smoking process, which helps the meat retain more moisture. Once you wrap the pork butt, the butcher paper or foil acts as a makeshift container that holds the pork’s juices. 

Leaving the pork butt unwrapped causes the juices to drip onto the hot coals. In addition, the pork is likely to dry out before it is thoroughly cooked. Nothing can be more frustrating since it can take the entire day to smoke a pork butt.

Stronger Flavor

During the initial stages of the smoking process, the pork butt is exposed to smoke. It absorbs the smoky flavor generated by the electric smoker. Therefore, wrapping the pork butt will seal in the smoky flavor as well as moisture.

Speeds Up The Cooking Process

The most popular reason for wrapping pork butt is to speed up the cooking process. Whether you are smoking pork shoulder, brisket, or pork butt, the stall will occur.

The stall is when huge chunks of meat such as chuck roast or brisket hit a roadblock, and the temperature does not move. The stall occurs at temperatures between 155°F-165°F. 

As the pork cooks, moisture is pulled from the pork’s center to the meat’s surface. The moisture will pool on the outside of the meat. Basically, it will look like your pork butt has beads of sweat on its exterior surface.

The beads of moisture cool down the pork butt inhibiting the cooking process. The stall is definitely the most frustrating part of smoking meat, as it can last for hours. Therefore, you must always add the stall time to the pork’s cooking time, especially if you plan to have your pork butt cooked by a specific time.

Wrapping pork butt is the best way to navigate the stall. Not only will wrapping the pork seal in the moisture, but it could shave as much as 2 hours off the total smoking time.

Does Wrapping Your Pork Butt Ruin The Bark?

Unfortunately, the downside of wrapping pork butt is that it ruins the bark. As I mentioned above, moisture pools on the surface of the pork when it is wrapped.

The foil or butcher paper traps the moisture inside. However, it will also steam the pork butt, softening the bark.

Therefore, you must decide which is the best option for your pork butt. If you want a juicy, succulent pork butt and want to speed up the cooking process, wrap your pork. In contrast, skip the wrapping process if you want your pork to develop a beautiful, crispy, rich bark and have the entire day to smoke it.

Should I Wrap Pork Butt in Foil or Butcher Paper?

Whether to wrap pork butt in foil or butcher paper depends on your preference. Wrapping pork butt with aluminum foil will seal in moisture, but it will also soften the bark.

In contrast, wrapping pork butt with butcher paper will cause some of its moisture to be lost. Butcher paper is a breathable material, allowing some moisture to escape through the paper’s pores. This will prevent the [bark from softening up too much.

When To Wrap Pork Butt

The timing is everything when it comes to wrapping pork butt. In general, you should wrap pork butt when it has an internal temperature of 165°F.

The pork will reach this temperature within a few hours if it is smoked at a temperature between 225°F and 250°F. If you smoke the pork butt at a temperature above 250°F, it will reach this temperature faster. If you smoke the pork butt at a temperature below 225°F. 

The pork’s time it takes for the pork to come up to temperature can also be affected by the meat’s size, fat content, and the type of smoker you are using.

Can You Wrap Pork Too Early?

Yes, you can wrap pork too early. If you wrap your pork butt too early, it will not develop its characteristic bark. This is why you should always wait until the pork has an internal temperature of 165°F before removing it from the smoker and wrapping it with foil or butcher paper.

How To Wrap Your Pork Butt

To wrap your pork butt, measure the length of the pork butt. Multiply the figure by four. Cut 2 sheets of butcher paper or foil that are the exact same length as the figure.

Arrange the first layer of foil or butcher paper vertically on a flat surface in front of you. Arrange the second sheet of foil or butcher paper horizontally on top of the butcher paper. The two sheets of foil or butcher paper should overlap.

Remove the pork butt from your electric smoker and place it onto the foil or butcher paper fat side up. If you put the pork butt fat side down on the butcher paper or foil paper, the moisture will accumulate at the bottom of the makeshift container instead of drip down the meat. Ultimately you will end up with dry pork butt.

Spritz the pork butt with apple cider vinegar or apple cider. Make sure you get the apple cider vinegar or juice onto the butcher paper or foil too.

Fold both layers of foil or butcher paper over the pork butt. Continue folding the butcher paper or foil paper over the pork butt.

Fold it over the foil one last time, then flip it over and tuck the edges of the paper in to seal the pork butt. Make sure you wrap your pork butt tightly. The package should be free of holes or gaps.

Return the pork butt to the propane smoker and cook it for a few more hours. Make sure you use an external smoker thermometer to keep track of your pork butt’s internal temperature.

Your smoker’s thermometer only measures the unit’s ambient temperature, not the internal temperature of the pork butt. Therefore, it is inaccurate.

The final temperature of the pork butt should be 190°F. Remove the pork butt from the smoker and let it rest for a minimum of 30 minutes before you unwrap it and slice it.

Final Thoughts

Wrapping pork butt is crucial to the smoking process. It is the perfect way to manage the stall. In addition to this, it will also seal in moisture, speed up the cooking process, and give the pork a more robust flavor.

However, the most important thing is to wrap the pork butt at the right moment. If you wrap the pork butt too early can prevent the bark from forming. Remember to wrap your pork butt once it has a temperature of 165°F, and you will have the most delicious tender and juicy pork butt.

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