Photo Gallery: Smoking a pork butt Lexington-style

Monk: For this year’s annual Super Bowl smoke, I knew a few things going in:

  1. I was going to use a Big Green Egg to smoke a pork butt for the first time (the BGE was my neighbor’s)
  2. I wanted to try to smoke it and serve it a little more authentically Lexington-style, particularly the rub

The NC BBQ Society’s website has been my go-to page for a Lexington-style dip recipe (that is, a thin barbecue sauce for those of you not in the know) the past few years (recipe here) while using a rub of my own (or Speedy’s) concoction. All these years, they’ve had a recipe for “Cooking Pork Shoulders Lexington Style” just a little further down the page that I’ve been ignoring. Turns out this is actually a transcription of a recipe from the book “The Best Tarheel Barbecue: From Manteo to Murphy” by NC BBQ Society founder Jim Early, which I just so happen to own. So I’ve really had no excuse not to try this technique before now.

On that page, in terms of rub it states “Rub the exposed side of the meat (not skin side) with a fair amount of salt. Set aside at room temperature.” And that’s it. I had to re-read a few times just to be sure I wasn’t missing something. No other spices, no overnight rub – this really was going to be a different technique than I was used to.

Doing a quick Google search, I found some corroborating evidence that salt only is indeed the way that the Lexington Barbecue rubs its pork butts (a second source here also somewhat verified it). So my mind was made up – I just hope it wouldn’t be a bust for our annual Super Bowl Party but it seemed so simple so what could go wrong?  At least we had 100 takeout wings as backup.

Speedy: Just to interject here, Monk, but I’m not sure I buy it. Maybe it’s been in the dip all these years, but I feel like I get some peppery goodness in all the Lexington ‘cue. I’ll reserve judgment until I try it for myself, but it just doesn’t feel right.

Monk: I was skeptical too, but I’m confident you will recognize Lexington in this technique. Next time we get a chance, we should do a side by side with just salt versus a more peppery rub.

The morning of, I rubbed about a ¼ cup of Morton’s coarse kosher salt on the smaller 5 lb pork butt and set aside at room temperature while I got the Big Green Egg lit – though admitedly this took a little longer seeing as this was my first time and I was starting solo.

Outside of that, everything else went about the same as a normal smoke. About 8.5 hours later, I pulled the butt off and let it rest for about an hour before chopping it and adding the Lexington dip.

I must say, I do believe this was the closest I’ve come to recreating Lexington-style pork butts at home. A slider with this chopped pork, a red slaw that Mrs. Monk prepared, and some Texas Pete tasted pretty darn close to what you might find in Lexington. I’m not saying its going to replace a trip to Lexington #1 anytime soon, but its not bad for a backyard smoke.

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