in: Food & Drink, Living, Podcast

• Last updated: September 29, 2021

Podcast #298: The History of BBQ and Becoming a Backyard Pitmaster

Southern BBQ is a uniquely American food and depending on which part of the South you’re in, you’re going to get a different answer as to what “true” Southern BBQ is. Despite the differences, one thing that unites Southern BBQ is its unabashed love for the humble pork butt. My guest on the show took a tour of the South to find BBQ joints that were taking this traditional choice of meat and doing new things with it, while sticking to the roots of Southern ‘que. His name is Matt Moore, he’s our food contributor here at AoM, and his latest book is The South’s Best Butts: Pitmaster Secrets for Southern Barbecue Perfection. 

Today on the show Matt details the history of BBQ and why pork is a staple in the Southern variety. He then explains what exactly a pork butt is (and no, it’s not the rear of a pig), and why it’s such an ideal meat for smoking. Matt then shares how and why BBQ flavors and techniques differ across the South and highlights a few pitmasters who are adding new takes to this traditional dish. We end our conversation by going through the step-by-step process of smoking the perfect pork butt.

Your mouth is going to be watering after you hear this show.

Show Highlights

  • The inspiration for Matt’s search to find the perfect pork butt
  • The history of BBQ
  • Regional BBQ differences across the south
  • Why is the pig the primary meat found in BBQ?
  • The secret formula to cooking great BBQ
  • What is the pork butt?
  • The versatility of the pork butt, and various ways to prepare it
  • How to buy a perfect cut of meat at the store
  • Dry rub vs. sauce
  • Traditional smoking vs charcoal vs gas and wood chips
  • The “Texas crutch” method
  • Matt’s preferred method of serving up pork butt
  • The ideal side dishes for a BBQ dinner
  • Secrets for cooking finicky beef brisket

Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

South's best butts by Matt Moore, Book cover.

The South’s Best Butts is part cookbook, part travelogue. Matt does a great job telling the stories behind some of the South’s best BBQ while simultaneously providing killer recipes so you can smoke the perfect pork butt. This is a great addition to your cookbook collection.

Connect With Matt Moore

Matt’s website

Matt on Instagram

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Read the Transcript

Brett McKay: Welcome to another edition of The Art Of Manliness Podcast. Well, southern barbecue is a uniquely American food and depending on which part of the south you’re in, you’re gonna get a different answer as to what is true southern barbecue. Despite the differences, once thing that unites southern barbecue is it’s unabashed love for the humble pork butt. My guest today on the show has taken a tour of the south to find barbecue joints who are taking this traditional choice of meat and doing new things with it while sticking to the roots of southern Q. His name is Matt Moore. He’s our food contributor here at AOM, and his latest book is The South’s Best Butts: Pitmaster’s Secrets For Southern barbecue Perfection.

Today on the show, Matt discusses the details of the history of barbecue, and explains why pork is a staple in the southern variety of barbecue. He then explains what exactly a pork butt is, and no, it’s not the rear of a pig and why it’s such an ideal meat for smoking. He then shares how and why barbecue flavors to techniques differ in different parts of the south, and highlights a few pit masters who are adding new takes on this traditional dish.

We then end out conversation by going through a step by step process of smoking the perfect pork butt, as well as some dishes you can prepare with it at your next barbecue. Your mouth is going to be watering after you hear this show. After the show is over, check out or show notes at butt where you’ll find links to resources, where you can delve deeper into this topic.

Matt Moore, welcome back to the show.

Matt Moore: Thanks so much for having me back on.

Brett McKay: For those of you who follow The Art of Manliness website, Matt has been contributing food content for us over the years, a lot of just great recipes for guys who want to cook and host and things like that. Had him on the show a while back, go for his book, The Southern Gentleman’s Kitchen, really fantastic cookbook. He’s got a new one out. This time it’s dedicated to the wonderful world of barbecue, particularly southern barbecue. Matt, what was the inspiration for you to travel around the American south in search of the perfect barbecue pork butt?

Matt Moore: You know, I like to say that opinions are like butts, everybody has one. Being a Nashville guy, I like to liken everything to music. I think in terms of barbecue today, and you mentioned particularly southern barbecue, I don’t know that there’s any other barbecue besides southern barbecue, that starts our first opinion for the podcast.

Brett McKay: There’s Texas barbecue. We can get into that.

Matt Moore: Hey, I went to Texas. I went to Texas. I went to Oklahoma. I don’t know that Washington state truly has barbecue. Sorry for any listeners up that way. For me, I wanted to go on a discovery. It’s commonly agreed upon that the barbecue belt is made up of 12 states. Think about the Carolinas, Georgia, Louisiana, across the south all the way to Texas, up to Oklahoma. The only people we kind of forget about in the south is Florida, sorry. I wanted to go out on the road and showcase all the different styles that regional barbecue has, dry rubs in Memphis, mustard-based sauces in South Carolina, white-based sauces in Alabama.

By doing a focus on the pork butt, that was kind of my medium through which we looked at all the different types of recipes. You’re getting a lot of recipes for woods. You’re getting techniques, dry rubs, whether it’s sauced or not, how it’s served. Then of course we round out the book not just with pork butt, but we’ve got brisket and smoked chicken wings and all the sides and desserts that you could ever dream of.

Brett McKay: For our listeners who aren’t familiar, what is the pork butt? Is actually the pig’s butt?

Matt Moore: No. It’s a common misconception.

Brett McKay: Right.

Matt Moore: Actually the butt is actually the ham cut, but the pork butt as we’re referring to it is actually the pork shoulder. Again, there’s a lot of opinions. There’s a lot of mystery behind where that name came from, but the pork butt got it’s name back in the day because they used to salt cure the shoulder cut along with all of the other cuts and pack them in barrels. These barrels were sold and the terminology to refer to that barrel was a butt, b-u-t-t. It’s where we get the name Boston Butt. It’s actually the shoulder cut which typically is a really tough cut. It’s a lot of muscle, a bit sinewy. That’s what requires such long cooking periods from anywhere from 20 hours as I discovered in St Louis, all the way down to just a couple of hours. That’s the unique thing about it, there’s kind of 20 ways to skin a cat, and same way with a pork butt.

Brett McKay: Is that why the pork butt is often used in barbecuing cause it requires a considerable amount of cooking time to get it nice and tender?

Matt Moore: Yeah. barbecue traces it’s name most commonly to the term barbacoa, which is roasting meats over open coals on spits. I think the pork butt is popular because it’s really ubiquitous. Sorry for the Texans and Oklahomans but to me the pig is the cornerstone of southern barbecue. I think that the pork butt is kind of that veritable cut that everyone goes back to. It’s a humble cut, it’s cheap, stretches to feed a crowd, and for me it’s the starting point for defining Q.

As I mentioned earlier, likening everything to music, I think ribs for a long time have served as basically the lead singer of the band. Everybody loves ribs. They’re adored by all, but they’re quite finicky to prepare and also when you’re consuming them. I think if you look at Texas and Oklahoma barbecue, brisket has come on the spotlight, it’s kind of like the lead guitarist that’s trying to steal some of that spotlight from the rib. The pork butt has always served as the drummer or the bassist behind the scenes, keeping everybody in time. I wanted to pay homage to it, to uncover what people are doing with that cut from state to state to state.

Brett McKay: You know, I’ve never been a fan of ribs. I mean not like them, but it’s not my favorite thing. When there’s barbecue, I’m like, “Oh, I’ll have a rib that’s it. But I’d rather eat pulled pork.”

Matt Moore: Pulled pork is obviously one of my favorites, but a great rib can be transcending, but you more often than not come across really really bad ribs than you do great ribs. I’ll tell you, one of the places we feature in the book is a place called B Daddy’s Barbecue in San Antonio, Texas. They’re known for their beef brisket and beef ribs, and let me tell you what man, I ate more that my weight’s full of beef ribs that afternoon in San Antonio.

Brett McKay: Gotta do it right. Let’s talk about this history of barbecue. It’s predominantly southern phenomenon. It’s been transported to other parts of the country, but what’s the history of barbecue in the south? Why is it such a big thing there?

Matt Moore: It’s cheap. Pigs were first brought over by De Soto to Florida back in the 1400s. It was an animal that could survive long voyages at sea, and it didn’t need a whole lot of domestication when it came state-side. They could basically let them run wild, a problem that we’re dealing with still today in the south. That being said, to cook these meats it does take a low temperature and quite a bit of time. I think just regionally, it’s what caused it really to proliferate throughout the south.

I dig into the history of one of the unique things that uncovered is the south has had a long storied culture. Some it’s more troubled than any, but back in the plantation era, one of the rare acts of humanity that you would see amongst slave-owners and slaves is they would throw, and they’re still called these today, pig pickins where actually you broke the bonds of social hierarchy and the slave masters would literally dine with slaves. It was a time of celebration, it was a time of harvest, and that’s still a tradition that’s carried on, obviously not in the same bounds that it is back in the past.

I think it’s always played an important role in the civil war. It was a food that could be salt-cured and preserved to keep people fighting and cheaply served. I also love politics. I’m not going to talk politics today, but barbecue in the south is often found at political rallies. It’s found at weddings, it’s found at funerals. It’s a food that everybody loves. It’s a food that can serve the masses. I think it’s the ultimate comfort food, though in different forms you find it throughout the south. Now you’re finding it throughout the US and the rest of the world.

Brett McKay: I think that’s interesting. The history part was really fascinating that people in the 18th century were having barbecue parties. It’s crazy to think.

Matt Moore: Absolutely.

Brett McKay: We think it’s like it’s this thing that we’ve been doing just for a short time, but no it’s been going on for hundreds of years.

Matt Moore: Yeah, that whole hog style of cooking. One of the other things is the entomology of the word barbecue. As I mentioned earlier, most people relate it back to the term barbacoa. Some people give credit to the french Haitians that call it barbecua, which is basically nose to tail if you will, or head to tail. That’s kind of to describe the whole hog method of cooking in the Carolinas.

One of my favorites is beer bar que pull, which is an advertisement that you found thought the Carolinas that Daniel Vaughn sited saying that you would find inside a bar a beer, barbecue, and pool. I don’t think that’s necessarily where we got the name barbecue, but it happened to be one of my favorites when I was doing the research on the history of the word.

Brett McKay: You mentioned earlier that as you go throughout the barbecue belt in the south, the different regions of the south have their own take on barbecue. You mentioned a few of them. How does the flavor and the techniques of barbecuing changed depending on which part of the south you’re in?

Matt Moore: Yeah great question. The Carolinas, specifically North Carolina is most known for cooking a whole hog. When we visited Wilbur’s in Goldsboro, North Carolina, they don’t actually just cook pork butts. The cook a whole hog and they chop all of that meat together so you’re getting all portions. It has a unique flavor. Typically, a real strong hickory wood is used to smoke. They don’t have really any sauce whatsoever. It’s just an apple cider vinegar with crushed red pepper and salt. As you make your way down through South Carolina, you’re starting to pick up more of a mustard-based sauce and a lot of folks give credit to a lot of the German immigrants that came over during that time period.

As you go to Georgia and Louisiana and Alabama, Alabama you pick up a little bit of white sauce which is based out of a mayonnaise. If you go up to Kentucky, you find no really pork, you find mutton. As you make your way west, most people typically say that you first find tomato and a little bit of sweetness in the form of a syrup, as you find Memphis and St Louis and Kansas City style barbecues. Of course as you go all the way further west, you’re gonna pick up more beef in the state of Texas. One of my favorites, right there in Tulsa, Oklahoma they called smoked bologna, the called it Oklahoma tenderloin. There’s a lot of different things that make up the different styles, but those are the commonly agreed upon as you make your way from east to west.

Brett McKay: Do you know why the tomato and the more sweet is in Missouri and Kansas City? You mentioned that the mustard base from the Germans and the Carolina stuff is more from whatever. Why the sweetness as you get west?

Matt Moore: It’s a good question, and that’s one that you might have me stumped on. I didn’t find anything that out of particularity would lend itself to say that tomatoes appeared more in that side of the country. I think that just tastes are different. To me, people ask all the time, “Well what is good barbecue?” I think we all associate barbecue with what we grew up on. For folks in Kansas City and Memphis and St Louis that tend to like a sweeter-based sauce, when they try Carolina style barbecue, which I said is just vinegar, a little bit of heat from crushed red pepper and salt, they don’t really consider it barbecue because it’s not the barbecue that they grew up on. It’s still something that’s super super hyper regional, but as to why you get more maple syrup or cane syrup or something along those lines as to what makes it sweeter, I just think it naturally evolves over time as people’s tastes and preferences carry on that way.

Brett McKay: Got you. People ask you what makes good barbecue good barbecue. You can have bad barbecue like there’s bad ribs. Is it possible to screw up a pork butt or is it a pretty forgiving piece of meat?

Matt Moore: Yeah, I think one of the unique things about focusing a spotlight on the pork butt, it is a forgiving cut. Skip Steele who’s a pretty famous pit master at Bogart’s in St Louis, he said it perfectly. He said, “Cooking is a math problem. Time plus temperature equals results.” He’s a gentleman that uses hickory. He smokes his pork butts at 200 degrees for 20 hours. That’s quite a commitment. I found a gentleman in Leachville, Arkansas at Big Butt’s Barbecue that will actually break down the pork butt. He cuts them into one and a quarter inch steaks, so you get more surface area. He cooks them at about 325 degrees for just a couple of hours. The results were different, but they were still both delicious. I think in terms of the other cuts like a brisket, which once it’s dry it’s not good anymore, ribs can be quite dry or not a whole lot of meat on the bone. The pork butt is one that is quite humble and forgiving, and there’s a lot of different ways to approach it.

Brett McKay: In this book you visit all these different barbecue joints, big ones in the south. What do you think they all had in common? Besides that, what were the big differences, besides the regional flavors of what they’re doing? Do they have differences in the way they approach barbecue or innovation or sticking to tradition?

Matt Moore: Yeah, great question. I think we’ll dig into it in just a bit, but the commonality was just great people. These pit masters that show up to work at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning to cook all day long, they’re judged more than a Michelin star chefs. In those instances, the commonality was just meeting great people.

In terms of innovation, yes, I think anybody can cook great barbecue on the most expensive piece of equipment, whatever that might be. If you just have a kettle grill that you can pick up at any hardware store with some charcoal, that’s one of my favorite ways to cook, digging a hole into the backyard to cook a whole hog, but we did find quite a bit of innovation. Nowadays, you come across commercial smokers that can smoke 20 and 30 butts at a time, that is using gas to control temperature precisely, and then they’re using some actual real wood for smoke flavor.

I think the rule is going back to time and temperature equals results, it doesn’t really matter what you cook on or how expensive your equipment is, the food is gonna be quite a bit better if you’re actually a master of time and temperature control than anything else.

Brett McKay: Yeah, I have a buddy who does a lot of barbecue, and he says, “You can use a metal garbage can and still cook good. It comes down to time and temperature.”

Matt Moore: Absolutely.

Brett McKay: If you can control those things, you’re gonna get a good thing.

Matt Moore: Absolutely.

Brett McKay: Was there any places that you came across that you saw were doing something really unique with barbecue to change things up?

Matt Moore: Yeah. I think one of my favorite places that I came across is called Heirloom Barbecue in Atlanta, Georgia. The Georgia Department of Transportation tried to shut the restaurant down because the traffic getting into the restaurant was so bad it was causing problems. That’s no joke to those in Atlanta with the I-85 bridge that recently collapsed. Atlanta’s already a traffic ridden city, but what you find there is a husband and wife.

Cody Taylor is originally from Knoxville, Tennessee, spent a lot of time in Texas. He is a true southern barbecue pit master. He married his wife Jiyeon Lee who happens to be a Korean pop star. I mean it, she’s like Britney Spears big in South Korea. She wanted to get away from the spotlight. Attended the Cordon Bleu in Atlanta, and started cooking. They got married. What you have is this harmonious flavor of true traditional southern barbecue married with a Korean influence. I don’t want to say Korean barbecue at all, it’s nothing like that.

You’re finding pork butts that are smoked 16 hours over hickory, but they’re marinaded in a Korean red chili rub called gochujang, which gives it this incredible umami flavor. They’ve got instead of a traditional coleslaw, they make a kimchi slaw. Their pickles are all done in a South Korean way. To me, that was a real innovative style of cooking and of barbecue, where they’re really paying homage to the roots, but they’re making it their own.

Brett McKay: It is sort of that innovation is baked in the DNA of barbecue. It’s like you’re combining all these different cultures into this new food right?

Matt Moore: Absolutely. I think the thing about barbecue is we’re pobably a little slow to walk towards innovation. Most purists might go to a place like Heirloom and claim that because of some of the influences it wasn’t traditional southern style barbecue. I would hotly disagree. I think that barbecue is a constantly evolving space. That’s one of the things that I wanted to showcase in the book is a whole lot of diversity.

Most people think of pit masters being men, but there was quite a few females. Helen Turner in Brownsville, Tennessee, she’s just as tough as any man I’ve ever met. She’s building big fires in an open pit at 4 o’clock in the morning and working all day at the front of house, the back of house. You’re gonna come across people of all different walks of life that are carrying on the tradition of barbecue and making their own stamp on it as they continue to carry that tradition on.

Brett McKay: Besides highlighting these different barbecue places, barbecue joints, it’s a cookbook. It’s recipes on how to cook pork butt and other things. If you’re up for it, I’d love to walk our listeners through on how to smoke or cook the perfect pork butt for barbecue. Let’s start with the meat. You say pork butt’s pretty forgiving, but when you go and buy a pork butt, is there something you can look at the meat and say, “Yeah, this is gonna be a good piece of meat to cook,” or, “No, I should stay away from this one.” Is there anything you can tell by the meat?

Matt Moore: Yeah. The cool thing about it, when you go to the store, these are pretty consistent. You’re gonna find them most often in a range anywhere from 8 to 12 pounds. I tend to like one around 10 pounds if I can find that.

Brett McKay: How much does that feed?

Matt Moore: Goodness gracious, at least 20 people.

Brett McKay: Geeze.

Matt Moore: Typically you’re gonna find those, and I think your listeners will really appreciate this, I buy pork butts at my local grocery store here in Nashville, Tennessee, which sometimes has higher food costs, for 99 cents a pound. I can buy a 10 pound butt for 10 dollars, and typically feed 15 to 20 people depending on the method that I’m using, whether it’s sandwiches or just on a plate or whatever. You’re gonna find those, you want to look for ones that have a nice fat cap on the top, and it’ll also include the bone in the shoulder. That’s really what you’re looking for. Like I said, it’s super humble, it’s super cheap. You want to find ones that are fresh, but I think any local market you can go down to or ask your butcher to source of you. It’s a really cheap, affordable food source that you can find basically anywhere.

Brett McKay: Let’s talk about the thing that causes a lot of consternation. Seasoning, wet or dry seasoning? What do you do?

Matt Moore: I came across a lot of different methods. I’ll let you guys dig into some of the different recipes. Me, I prefer a dry rub. What’s gonna flavor the butt, and again, I’m one that’s a little bit more of a purist. I don’t really use a whole lot of sauce after I’ve cooked my meat. It’s kind of more of a Carolina style where I might add a little bit of vinegar, salt and pepper. By using a dry rub, it’s one of my first chances, besides using actual smoke to flavor the meat, the dry rub is really gonna be my chance. I love a really really liberal dry rub. I saw it just as simple as course salt and pepper all the way up to using a ground garlic and onion powders and mustard powders and chili powders. For me, I’m one that likes to really work a rub of which you’ll find plenty of recipes in the book, all throughout every crevice of the meat before it hits the fire.

Brett McKay: If you do a wet seasoning, a wet rub, do you do that after or before you start smoking it, or both?

Matt Moore: A good question. I found a lot of people doing kind of like a brine. Even if it was kind of a salt and water solution, where they were submerging the actual pork butt overnight, or I came across some that actually would coat it in Italian dressing and let it sit overnight. The one commonality though before, whether they used a dry rub or not, they were sure to really really wipe down and dry off either the brine, or the marinade before they put it on the smoker.

You don’t want to have a wet butt, sorry for the pun there, and then add a dry rub to it because in the first few hours, remember, we’re cooking at a very low temperature. What happens is all that dry rub is just gonna kind of steam off the meat, and it kind of goes against the purpose of giving it a dry rub, so if you do do a brine or a marinade of any kind on the butt, you want to make sure that you wipe it completely dry before you put a rub or before you even put it on the fire.

Brett McKay: Got you. Let’s talk about actually cooking it. You smoke it right? That’s the traditional way of cooking pork butt, is smoking it right?

Matt Moore: Yeah. True barbecue is taking wood coals, I have most often came across mesquite or hickory coals, oak coals as well. Some people prefer fruit woods like an apple or a pecan that can add a little bit sweeter smoke to the meat. True folks will tell you that you have to actually burn down logs of wood into coals, and then you shovel those coals underneath the meat. The idea is that as the meat gives up it’s fatty goodness, it drips down into the fire and that smoke flavors the meat throughout the long process. That’s the tried and true method.

You could also get away with using lump charcoal which makes that step a little bit easier and then use wood chips to help provide more smoke flavor. A lot of people are against briquette style charcoal, but I came across a gentleman in Arkansas that always used briquettes and got great results. I think there’s a lot of different methods there, but in terms of the smoke, what I find is that most people are trying to impart smoke flavor for the first one to four hours. If you’re looking at a pork butt that’s about 10 to 12 pounds, at around 250 to 275 degrees, you’re looking at probably a cooking time anywhere between 12 to 16 hours with most people adding some of the actual wood chips in the first four hours of cooking.

Brett McKay: Wow, so you’re looking at 16 hours. If you were wanting to smoke something for the weekend or for a party, like say a Saturday night, when would you need to start ideally?

Matt Moore: That’s the fun part if you ask me. Start the night before and you turn on some Waylon Jennings and crack open a cold beer. That’s one of the things where having a little bit more sophisticated smoker plays to your advantage. Using a kettle style grill, you’re gonna be up a couple times during the night to replace charcoal. If you have an egg style cooker, you can get that thing set and it’ll hold the temperature for you for 16 20 hours. That’s one advantage I will say of having a little bit more expensive equipment or even a gas style cooker where you can absolutely regulate that temperature to a T, and then add your wood chips for that smoke flavor.

Most folks are doing this the night before. One shortcut that you can use that I found throughout my travels was cutting that pork butt down, maybe in half or into four portions so that you create more surface area so that that heat can work around the meat in a shorter period of time, or what I find a lot of folks doing is the old Texas crutch method.

This is one of my favorite things that I found people doing with ribs and brisket and even the pork butt. They’ll smoke it for four to six hours over the fire, and then they’ll pull it off and they’ll wrap it in aluminum foil. What that does is it prevents anymore smoke from penetrating the meat, but it creates sort of a convection style cooking so that it continues to cook and tenderize the meat. I find that if you use that method instead of it taking 16 hours, you might be able to pull the whole thing off in 10 or 12 hours instead.

Brett McKay: Okay, that makes sense. Then what do you do after you smoke it? What do you think is the best way to prepare or to present the meat? Shred it, slice it?

Matt Moore: Yeah, there’s again thousands of opinions on it. The first thing you need to do, just like when you’re cooking a great steak, is you need to let it rest. That was another commonality that every pit master that I met with in my travels agreed. Whether it was 30 minutes off the heat, or even up to an hour or a few hours, it’s important to allow that meat to rest. It gets it’s name pulled pork from just actually what you do. You should literally be able to pull the bone out of it clean. There should be no meat on the bone. That’s when you know that you’ve cooked it to the right temperature. Most folks will tell you that you want to cook it to 200 to 205 degrees to make sure that it’s gonna pull correctly. It should be super super tender and pull easily.

Carolina style because they’re typically cooking a whole hog, they tend to chop the meat. They’ll work a clever into the meat and actually have a chopped meat. Then when you mentioned sliced, I didn’t come across that a whole lot with the actual pork butt. Up in Kentucky we came across barbecued mutton, which was typically chipped, which would be more of a pulled style or they would actually slice that. That was the only place that we came across a sliced style of the butt.

Brett McKay: Okay. Suggestions on what to serve with your pork butt? Just like coleslaw, baked beans? Is baked beans a thing like for southern barbecue or is that a Texas thing?

Matt Moore: Baked beans are huge. I think we give you probably 75, 80 side recipes for rounding out the pork butt. Traditionally it’s served on a sandwich. You can choose whether you want to add sauce to it, if you want to top it with a slaw or pickles or onions. You’re gonna get a lot of different recipes for the method of service. I think what’s really cool is in Texas they serve their pulled pork on tacos.

I came across a pulled pork ramen where they’re actually taking the pork meat and infusing it into a bowl of noodles and ramen. For me, however you want to serve it, there’s a lot of different variances and I think this is a good point. We’ve talked a lot about a pretty lengthy cooking process, whether it’s 20 hours or a few hours, it’s a big commitment.

I wanted to write a book in a way that if you didn’t have time to cook your own butt, you could go to your local grocery store or your local barbecue restaurant and pick up a pound or two of pulled or chipped pork, and use that as a base to all the other recipes in the book. If time is a pinch, and you still want to make these recipes, just outsource that portion to the local store or restaurant ,and you can still get a lot enjoyment out of cooking the recipes.

Brett McKay: I’m from Oklahoma, grew up in Texas a little bit. We can’t talk barbecue without talking beef. Let’s talk brisket. Man, I’ve messed up lots of briskets before trying to cook. It’s such a finicky piece of meat. What’s the secret to make sure you get something that’s just nice and tender and you can eat it. You’re not chewing a piece of leather.

Matt Moore: Yeah, I’ve got to be honest with you. A friend of mine who works for the FBI told me about a place in San Antonio called B Daddy’s Barbecue. When you think about it, finding a pork butt in Texas was really difficult, but the reason I went there is because you have so many military guys that are down there from other parts of the south that just demanded a pork butt. I went for the pork butt but I could not leave because of the beef ribs and the brisket.

One thing about brisket is it’s hard to find and source a quality of meat, I mean you’ve got to really spend a good bit of money to get a great cut. Depending on the time of the year that the cows are actually slaughtered, that’s gonna play a big part into the quality of the cut that you’re actually gonna smoke. From there, it is like I said, time and temperature equals results. BR Anderson, who’s the pit master down there, he uses salt and pepper, he smokes it low and slow. Then he actually wraps his, kind of in a craft style paper. It’s a bit of that Texas crutch method, but not using foil so it keeps it nice and moist, but it’s not kind of convecting that heat. It’s a little bit more gentle of a cooking method.

I think brisket is a finicky meat. You want it to be moist. You want it to be fall apart tender. There’s a fine line, typically most pit masters will tell you that they’ve got about a 30 minute window to where it needs a little bit more cooking, and then if you go too long, it’s gonna be dry. I think it’s just something that you have to perfect over time. We certainly give you his recipe and method for you to try out at your own home.

Brett McKay: That’s awesome. Well Matt, it’s been a great conversation. Where can people learn more about the book and your work?

Matt Moore: Yeah, thank you for having me back. We are gonna do some of the recipes on the blog, at The Art Of Manliness. Then you can also check me out, Instagram @mattmooremusic or via my site at

Brett McKay: Awesome. Matt Moore, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure.

Matt Moore: Hey Brett, thanks.

Brett McKay: My guest today was Matt Moore. His latest book is The South’s Best Butts. It’s available on and bookstores everywhere. Pick up a copy. Also you can check out more about his work at Also, check out our show notes at butt, where you can find links to resources, we delve deeper into this topic, and you can find more of Matt’s cooking content at

Well that wraps up another edition of The Art Of Manliness Podcast. For more manly tips and advice, make sure to check out The Art Of Manliness website at If you enjoy this show or got something out of it, I’d appreciate if you give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher, that helps us out a lot. As always, thank you for your continued support, and until next time, this Brett McKay telling you to stay manly.

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