Boston Butt is also known as Pork Butt. I don’t want you to confuse its name with the actual behind of a pig. This meat portion isn’t even located near the pig’s butt but is on the opposite end. You’ll find this cut of meat on the pig’s shoulder. The Boston butt consists of areas such as the neck, upper arm, and shoulder blade. It’s a moderately strong cut of pork that possesses a ton of connective tissue.
We often perceive the part that the pork butt is the large muscle present on top of the pig’s leg. It’s the part where the ham (cooked fresh/smoked/cured) comes from.
Ham consists mostly of the gluteus maximus and thigh. Its use is mainly in pulled pork and is cut into steaks or roasted. You may not know this, but this meat is also suitable for making sausages, ground pork, stewing, and braising.
The Importance Surrounding Wood Choice
There shouldn’t be any opposing questions surrounding wood choice in smoking meat. You can expect the same response from any barbecue buff as you just did from me. Yes, choosing the right smoker for heat is important, but you can’t expect to smoke anything in the absence of wood. The smoke will cook the meat and provide the unique smoky flavor you crave in a Boston butt. At times, the meat drippings get on the wood.
Here, the smoke tends to assimilate the drippings’ scent back on to your meat, enhancing the taste even more. Every wood is going to vary in terms of its aroma. You have to realize that not all woods produce the same effect on your meat. Plus, some hardwoods also pair up well with certain types of meat. In this guide, I’ll be discussing some of the best wood chips for smoking your Boston butt. They include:
Best Wood Chips for Boston Butt
- Cherrywood Chips
Cherrywood has a reputation for going well with just about any meat, including Boston butt. Many smoking aficionados and restaurants have been using this wood for ages now. You can even combine cherrywood chips with oak for a magical flavor. Its flavor profile is all about being sweet and lightweight. If you don’t want your Boston butt to be overpowering, then this wood chip might be the one for you.
Its delicate nature also mixes well with other wood chips such as applewood and hickory. Also, cherrywood tends to create a dark mahogany coloring, which will complement your pork butt in appearance. However, if you want the flavor effects of the cherry wood chips but not the coloring, you can always combine it with applewood chips.
- Pecanwood Chips
Pecan is quite similar to hickory because of its nutty aroma. The nutty flavor is vibrant and sweet, which works excellent with an array of meat out there like pork butt, briskets, ribs, and roasts. The pecan wood chips tend to burn cool and offer a delicate flavoring effect that acts as a subtler sibling of hickory. For my taste, I love pairing it with citrusy wood types such as cherry and orange.
It helps enhance pork chops, ribs, and ham, but the real magic starts when you use it for cooking a pork butt. Plus, pecans also help add that extra smoky texture to your bacon or anything with a bacon wrapping. If you’re someone that doesn’t favor strong wood chips of oak and hickory, then pecan is the answer.
- Hickory Wood Chips
This classic wood is super compatible with pork, especially bacon. It tends to be a little too heavy for chicken meat at times, but it’s magical with pork. Hickorywood chips are incredibly versatile because their usage expands in a variety of ways. But I advise you to avoid overusing this wood because it will easily give your Boston butt bitter aftermath.
But with the right amount, you can expect your Boston butt to be sweet, hearty, a bit bacony, and savory at the same time. Other meat sources such as beef and lamb also pair up well with these wood chips. Also, hickory wood tends to burn for a more extended period, so it gets a bonus point in my book for this feature.
- Mesquite Wood Chips
When it comes to mesquite wood chips, you have to be extra careful in avoiding excessive usage. This wood works best with grilling in the open air. It’s best to avoid contained smoking because the wood chips give off a concentrated flavor. If you have never used it before, then be ready for its strong, unique, and intense aromatic effects.
As of late, mesquite wood chips are quite popular. One particular factor that separates this wood from the rest would be its fast and hot burning nature. I suggest you stay clear from long barbecues with this wood, though. Its strong flavor and fast-burning feature make it a hit among many restaurants and food chains worldwide.
- Applewood Chips
Now wood chips from an applewood are something that you can’t go wrong with. Applewood is known for possessing a mild and fruity flavor. This wood is the most compatible with pork, allowing you to cook some of the tastiest Boston butts. It lends a mellow taste to your meat, and its smoky flavors take time to permeate your meat.
So, take a seat and drink some cold beer while you anticipate numerous smoking hours. Apart from pork, you can use this wood for cooking chicken and wild foul. But it does tend to overwhelm your chicken, so avoid extended smoking. Plus, it discolors your chicken skin, giving you a darker tone, but it’s great for pork butt.
- Maplewood Chips
Maplewood chips are all about subtle smoking, imparting a smoky texture to your pork butt. Its sweet nature makes it an eligible candidate for smoking meat like pork, chicken, and game foul. Also, sugar maple is perfectly fitting for turkey at all times. If you like your pork butt with mild smokiness, then knock yourself out with these chips.
Boston butt cuts do require long and slow cooking. You can barbecue, braise, roast, and even make delicious stews with it. Pork butts do a great job in standing up against strong flavors because they naturally have them as well. So, when you’re smoking your piece, make sure to avoid excessive usage. Also, I encourage you to combine the woods and experiment for yourself because there are so many possibilities in tastes.