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Aaron Franklin Masterclass Pork Butt

I was so excited when I saw that Aaron Franklin has a series of videos in Masterclass, teaching how to do Texas-Style BBQ. You might have heard of him from Franklin’s BBQ in Austin, one of the top BBQ restaurants in the country. I loved the video and was so inspired, that I thought it would be cool to follow his class step by step and do a review. This is the first one of three review videos, in which we will do pork butt, ribs and brisket.

In this episode I cook Pork Butt, the Aaron Franklin way. Aaron rates pork butts as one of the easiest things to do, and recommends using a pork butt with the bone-in, as the bone helps the meat stay together and it helps you determine when the meat is done.   I do two pork butts, and I vary it just slightly. In one of the pork butts, like in the Masterclass, I put a small layer of mustard before seasoning it with the rub to help the rub adhere to the meat, and in the second one I skip the mustard and only season it with the rub. I wanted to see if the mustard makes a difference, but more importantly

I wanted to see if I could make the pork butt as good as the one in Aaron Franklin’s video!

Charcoal Pro-Tip: For today's cook I am using FOGO Super Premium, the large chunks of charcoal guarantee a long burn, this is going to be a 10 plus hour cook, so I don't want to have to refuel half way through. To stick as close as possible to Aarons recipe I am using Texas Post Oak wood chunks for smoke. 

Video Recipe

We cooked our pork butts for 10 hours at 275 degrees. His recipe is pretty straightforward, make a rub with equal parts of coarse pepper and salt and add some paprika for color. The rub is going on pretty thick, because once it's done all the meat gets pulled and mixed together and the tasty bark mixes with the moist but somewhat simple interior meat. 

Set the smoker to 275 degrees indirect heat and put in the pork butt. After the first three hours, Aaron recommends to Spritz the Pork Butts with Apple Cider Vinegar every hour until around the 8hr mark when the butt splits and it's time to wrap it in aluminium foil.

Then they go back on the smoker to finish off wrapped for another 2-3hrs until fully tender.  You should be able to enter a thermometer or meat probe with no resistance.Don't pay so much time to internal temperature if it's not super tender yet, give it another 30-60min until completely tender. Then let them rest for at least an hour.

How did it come out?

One of the ways to find out if the pork butt is done, is to take off the bone and see if it slides right off.

Both of bones came out pretty easily, so first test ✔

When we started shredding the meat, it came off pretty easily with a fork, and looked so moist. The smell was also very smoky, the charcoal and the port oak really helped bring out the flavor. We also got that nice Texas salt and pepper bark. We couldn’t wait to dig in!

Taste Test!

Now the important bit - the taste test! The pork butts were super moist and had a good smoke flavor to it. I think that pork is always lacking a little  bit of flavor, that’s why you shouldn’t worry of ‘over-season’ the bark. When its shredded, the bark mixes in with the other pieces of the pork to give more flavor to the pulled pork. I’m not going to lie, the bark is definitely the best piece! This was a little peppery, but not too spicy nor overpowering.

I grilled a couple of buns and made a pulled pork sandwich using spicy pickles. My wife loved it and so did my kids (sans the spicy pickles!). They also loved the pulled pork by itself and to my surprise kept asking for seconds!

Aaron Franklin is right - this is one of the easiest cooks.  Although it took over ten hours, doing the pork butt is actually very easy. Season, put it in the smoker, maintain the temperature, spritz water or apple cider vinegar and then keep smoking until its ready. We used the same charcoal throughout the cook - and there was still some left! 

You can even easily do this for parties, because you can do them hours in advance and it gives you plenty of food to go around! To keep the heat, you only need to wrap it in aluminum paper and then a towel and put it in a cooler.

Was there a difference between the pork butt with mustard vs without mustard? I think the bark was definitely more stuck together and more coherent on the one with the mustard base. Taste-wise, there wasn’t much difference, maybe you could just taste a hint of mustard. We loved both pork butts, they were amazing! But if I were to do again, maybe I’d skip the mustard. Try it out and see what you prefer!

And finally, my review of the Masterclass, I loved it! I can’t wait to do it again!

Aaron Franklin, I love your pork butt. It is awesome, I will definitely do it again!


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