Pat Martin of Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint shares with Southern Living his restaurant’s secrets for West Tennessee whole-hog barbecuing. It’s all good, especially this recipe, which walks you, step by step, toward a whole hog barbecue sandwich. (It’s a perfect plate, if you ask us.) From the rub—which Martin describes as a “balance between salt and sugar”—to the cooking—which starts hot and ends low and slow—this barbecue is something to savor, and there’s no better way to enjoy it than in a juicy sandwich. The perfect barbecue sandwich has a few essential parts, all of which have to be perfectly balanced. Just four ounces of meat, a dollop of slaw, some good sauce, and a sturdy bun, and you’ll be on your way to barbecue heaven in no time at all. There’s no denying that this sandwich is good: It can hold its own beside any and all of your family’s favorite barbecue sides—even your grandmama’s famous mac and cheese.

How to Make It

Step 1

RUB: Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. 

Step 2

BOSTON BUTT: The night before cooking your  Boston  butt,  generously  put  rub  over  the  meat  and  set it aside  in  a  dish  in  the  refrigerator.  This puts  a  semi-cure  on  the  meat  which  will  help  the cooking process. Putting in the refrigerator overnight allows the meat to be at its coldest, which will allow it to take on the smoke flavor. The cooler the meat, the more smoke flavor you can have. Be prepared to cook your Boston butt for an hour to an hour-and-a-half per pound.

Step 3

In the morning, open the grill and start a fire on one side with a charcoal chimney (available at any hardware store). Using hardwood charcoal is preferred as lumps turn to ash too quickly and lighter fluid is not recommended because it will give the meat a chemical taste. Break the coals down to grey coals.

Step 4

Off to the side, you’ll want to keep a fire going to burn coals. Don’t ever put cold coals in the smoker. Every hour, put fresh coals in to burn down and put in the smoker. Once coal bed is burning, take fist size chunks of fresh hickory wood (you can find this at Home Depot) and put two to three on top of coal bed. Place the Boston butt on the other side of the  grill.  You  can  put  a  small  pan  with  water  to  add  humidity  (which is recommended on a windy, dry day). Keep an eye on it and if the water is running out, refill it. Don’t worry about using wine or apple juice to add flavor, it won’t. You’ll want to cook the Boston butt at 225 degrees with a minimum internal temperature of 190 degrees.

Step 5

It’s helpful to note that you won’t want to touch the bone when taking the temperature because it won’t read correctly. It’s critical that when you put the lid on, align the holes with the Boston butt. This is because heat rises and will travel over the meat to get out for an even cook. All grills have a damper at the bottom and the top. Make  sure  the top  is  open  at  all  times,  while  opening  and closing the bottom until you reach 225 degrees.  It will take one to two hours to tame heat. If it goes above 225, leave it alone and let it cool down on its own. Don’t, open it! Once the temperature is settled, you’ll keep the dampers where they are. If temperate falls, add more  coals  not  air.   Be  sure  to  maintain  the  temperature  give-or-take  25  degrees.  The biggest mistake that can be made is letting it spike and fall too much.

Step 6

Every two hours, rotate the Boston butt a quarter turn horizontally. At the half way point (five hours) it should be flipped over from bottom to top. Once you flip your Boston butt, there is no reason to keep adding wood because it’s taken on as much smoke as it’s going to get. Instead, keep adding burned coals for heat. When the  Boston  butt  is done, let  it rest, wrapped  in  paper towels (aluminum foil  is  not recommended because it will continue to cook) in a Yeti cooler at room temperature. The longer it rests, the more flavor is enhanced. While the Boston butt is resting, prepare everything else for dinner including the buns and slaw for the sandwich.

Step 7

SLAW: Cut cabbage and carrots into chunks that will fit in your food processor. Add green cabbage to food processor and pulse until texture of confetti. Remove Cabbage to a mixing bowl. Repeat with carrot. Add to bowl with cabbage, toss to mix, and refrigerate until serving time. Add all ingredients to a clean mixing bowl and whisk until fully mixed. Refrigerate until serving time. Before serving, add dressing to carrot/cabbage mixture and mix thoroughly.

Step 8

SANDWICH BUNS: Melt the butter and brush it on the potato rolls. Place buns in lightly oiled cast iron skillet until lightly toasted.

Step 9

ASSEMBLING THE SANDWICH: Flip your Boston butt backwards and use a large serving fork to shred the meat. Take four ounces of meat (about the size of a baseball) and put it on your toasted bun. Top it with slaw and your favorite Martin’s sauce. Enjoy!

Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint