With all the many types of cuts you can get from a pig, sometimes they are all confusing. This is especially when you are not familiar with the cuts and you just want to have some good pork for your family. It is the reason today we look at the differences between pork butt and pork shoulder. These two are important to consider if you want to throw a grilling party.
You will find them being referred to as Boston butt sometimes. These pork butts are cut from the top shoulder part close to the spine. This cut can often be large and rectangular in shape. Whenever the skin is removed, it exposes a nice piece of meat full of juicy fat and connective tissue.
So, where did it get the name butt? In the past, these pork parts were shipped in barrels. For those who do not know, butt is another name for barrels. Those parts that came from Boston would then be referred to as Boston Butt.
Since the pork butt comes with a lot of connective tissue and fat, it needs slow cooking and at low temperatures. If you use other methods, you might end up with meat that is too tough to cut and eat. It is the reason most butchers recommend that you cook the pork butt for a long time until its internal temperature reaches 195 degrees.
For those who want it roasted and sliced, you can cut the temperature to around 165 degrees. This should make it generally better for you to enjoy it. Another option is to have the butcher cut it into small pieces so that you can cook them indirectly at a low temperature until their internal temperatures gets to 160 degrees.
Just below the pork butt is where you find the pork shoulder part. It is also the part directly on top the cut above the leg. It is the reason sometimes it is called a picnic ham. Since this cut is from the meat close to the leg muscles, you can always expect it to be tougher. Such meat would need cooking until the internal temperature is 195 degrees for it to be tender.
This type of cut is good for pulled pork. Make sure to remove the skin and then adjust the cooking time since this one is a smaller cut than pork butt.
Since most of the time pork shoulder comes with the skin still attached, it can be great for making crispy pork carnitas. These carnitas are the Mexican answer to having pulled pork. Carnitas require low and slow cooking to end up with the best and tastier meal.
Which Costs More?
You can expect that the prices will largely vary from one region to another. That being said, it is expected that pork shoulder would be cheaper because of their size. Always look at the number of people you have to feed when buying the two. If you are going to cook for just a family of four, then a pork shoulder should be ideal. For those who aim to cook for a larger gathering, then opt for a pork butt as the better choice.
Which Needs More Work to Prepare?
This is more dependent on the method you plan to use and the type of meal you want to prepare. If you just want to make pulled pork, then these two relatively have the same work. Although you will have to work extra to remove the skin of the pork shoulder if you do not want to use it.
If you are trying to make carnitas, then expect to have more steps such as salting and dry brining of the meat before preparing. You will also need extra time for making the crisp skin in the end. So, it is all about the way you want to prepare the meal.
What Makes Pork Butt Better for Barbeque?
Let us say you are looking to host a barbeque for your friends, then you might want to consider using pork butt rather than pork shoulder. But why? This is because pork butt comes with a lot of connective tissues and fat. This makes the meat more succulent and will remain moist for hours, even for slow cooking.
You will also find that pork butt is cheaper than pork shoulders in some places. Another thing is that pork butt is readily available in most places, making it perfect barbeques if you need more pork.
Always consider the quality grade of the pork butt when choosing one. As much as the pork might not be graded by USDA inspectors, when graded it would be either “utility” or “acceptability” grades.
Which one is Easier to Smoke?
Both pork shoulder and pork butt cuts are good for low and slow method of cooking. As a result, you should end up with a nice roast whenever you opt to use these cuts. What you need to know is that you cannot just grill these parts in a few minutes or even an hour. The meat tends to be tough so you have to expose them to around 12 hours of low heat. This helps with tenderizing the fibers in the meat to enjoy the roast.
Since both cuts tend to be more fatty, then expect more flavor from the meat. Whenever you opt for pork butt, you can stew, braise or pull it. This makes it quite the versatile cut to get right now. As for pork shoulder, it will give you the best crackling crisp skin if you decide to keep it.
Both pork butt and pork shoulder are great cuts with amazing taste and flavor. Whichever you decide to pick, expect it to be good for your taste buds. Just make sure you understand the different methods can be used to prepare them. Give the cuts enough time to cook so that you can end up with the best flavored and tenderized meat.