Pork Butt has to be one of the most misunderstood cuts of meat ever.
Sometimes you’ll see this bone-in (usually) 6 to 9 pound roast labeled
Boston butt, or Boston roast or pork butt roast or blade roast or
pork shoulder roast. That’s right. Boston Butt is NOT a butt.
It’s a pork shoulder roast. For clear explanations of all the cuts see www.theotherwhitemeat.com.
Why is it called butt? Long ago, shoulder roasts were packed and shipped,
often from Boston, in a barrel that was called a butt. Now you know.
Just don’t ask me about picnic hams, which are also cut from the
Whatever you call it, a big ole pork butt is cheap, delicious and easy.
As with many other easy things, there’s a small trade-offit does
take time. The most classic use of pork butt is to smoke it for barbecue pulled pork. A fine goal indeed, but here in Chicago it’s
6 degrees, so that’s for another post.
There’s only really one thing you need to know to make a luscious,
porky, toothsome meal from pork butt: overcook it. Honestly, you can’t
wreck it. A recipe follows, but I confess I’ve prepared it covered,
uncovered, heavily seasoned with complex pastes and sprinkled
with nothing but salt and pepper and it’s always yummy.
The reason the cut has been neglected is that it is an exemplar of the
fatty meat we all turned violently away from several decades ago.
In an all-American effort to make money, pork producers started
breeding leaner and leaner piggies to come up with “the other
white meat.” Today if you cook a pork tenderloin 30 seconds beyond
pink-in-the-center you have tasteless cardboard. It is white though.
So pork butt is the only fatty, juicy mainstream option left. (If you
purchase pasture raised organic pork, that’s another more expensive
story. I’m all for it, but these days I sometimes want to feed a crowd
on the cheap.)
What does one do with a pork butt roast? Just about anything. It’s perfect
for tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas and all things Latin. You can Italian-ize
it with a tomato sauce and some pasta or polenta. Add sauce and make
barbecue pork sandwiches, too. (Just don’t tell barbecue purists I
suggested it.) Or just serve it as center-of-the-plate meat with a salsa
or chutney. You could also stir-fry pork leftovers with peppers and
potatoes for breakfast, brunch or lunch. It works in casseroles
and omelets. Oh, I could go on, but I’m getting hungry.
Marilyn's Bodacious Butt
(A 6 to 7 pound bone-in pork butt will easily serve 10 or 4 teenage boys.
Freeze leftover meat for easy weeknight variations.)
• 5-7 pound bone-in Boston butt pork roast
• 6 garlic cloves
• Southwestern seasoning, adobo seasoning or a mix of cumin and oregano
• Half a can or bottle of beer
Trim some but not all fat from the exterior of the roast. Peel the garlic
and cut it into smallish slivers. Cut slits into the meat and insert the garlic
pieces as far as possible. Do this on all sides of the roast. It will look rather
porcupine-like. Sprinkle it generously with seasoning. If you like, you can
wrap the roast and refrigerate it overnight. Otherwise preheat the oven
Place the roast in a casserole or roasting pan. Roast 20 minutes, then
turn the heat to 325°F. Pour in the beer and cover the pan.
Roast for 3 to 4 hours until the meat falls into shreds when prodded
with a fork.
Let roast cool slightly then pull into shreds with a fork and fingers.
Makes about 10 servings
This may shock you.
It should. If you
purchase pork roast
or chops from a
probably paying for
salt water. Now that
pork is so lean, it
often cooks up tough,
prepared to well-done.
To solve the problem,
the meat with a
solution of water,
salt and other
enhancers”). It makes
even overcooked meat
tender and juicy, true,
but it can also make it
mushy and salty.
This is something you
really need to watch
if you’re planning to
brine or marinate at
home or if you restrict
your sodium intake.
Some brands have
a proprietary name
for this watered down
meat. Look for
adjectives such as
or “moist ‘n’ tender”.
The label must indicate
that a solution has
been added. This is
usually in VERY fine
print and reads along
“Enhanced with up to
a 12% solution of water,
salt and natural flavorings." How much packaged meat is ‘enhanced'? According
to a NY Times article
by Marian Burros www.nytimes.com,
a meat industry study
done in 2004 found that
45 percent of the pork
in retail stores was
enhanced. I doubt the
numbers have gone
down since then.
The pork butt,
however, does not
have this problem.
I guess even skinny
pigs have fat shoulders.
Where to Find
It’s not always easy
to find pork butt at
They usually have it,
but hidden in a corner
of the meat case.
There’s just not that
much demand or profit.
They’d rather sell you
enhanced pork chops or
Latin American stores
are a better bet and
cheaper, too. I have seen
pork butt for as low as
99 cents a pound.
Polish markets have
a great selection of pork
at good prices, too.
In the Chicago area try: