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The Pork Butt is Not Actually the Butt of the Pig

Despite its colorful name, pork butt is not from the pig’s butt or behind. On the contrary, the pork butt is a piece of meat from the pig’s shoulder. It is the most common cut of pig used in pulled pork. It can be grilled or cut into steaks, but it’s also great for braising and stewing, as well as ground pork and sausages. But why is the pork shoulder called the pork butt?

Pork butt is the shoulder of the pig, not the back end. The pork shoulders were named after the “butts,” which were the barrels housed in them.

What is the Pork Butt?

Pork butt is a cut of meat from the upper section of a pig’s front shoulder, also known as Boston butt or pork shoulder. It’s a cheap and forgiving cut of meat commonly served as pulled pork in barbecue joints. It is frequently marketed bone-in, with a fat cap on the side of the amount. (Source: Masterclass

According to reports, pork butts got their name from the butts, barrels that were once used to keep pork during the Revolutionary War. Furthermore, because they were regarded as a New England specialty, butts are sometimes referred to as Boston butts.  (Source: Applestone Meat)

What is the Pork Shoulder?

The primal cut of pork shoulder, also known as picnic roast, originates from a pig’s shoulder, just above the forelegs. It’s called “the top section of the front leg of the hog” by the National Pork Board, and it’s usually divided into two cuts: the top, or blade shoulder or Boston butt, and the lower arm shoulder also known as pork shoulder or picnic roast.

Because of the abundance of connective tissue, the meat from this hardworking region is dark in color and rough. It’s also high in fat; if appropriately cooked low and slow, the collagen breaks down into gelatin, and the fat melts. It may be pretty tasty. Pork shoulder has a more robust pork flavor than thinner cuts like pork chops because it includes more fat. (Source: Masterclass

What is the Difference Between Pork Butt versus the Pork Shoulder?

Pork shoulder and pork butt are made from the same primal cuts on the pig’s shoulders. When deciding between different cuts at the grocery store, it’s helpful to understand the distinctions in flavor and texture. The following are some essential distinctions between pig butt and pork shoulder.

Fat Content

Pork shoulder contains less fat and might be harsh or chewy, whereas pork butt has more intramuscular fat and is softer and tender.

The Shape of the Cut

The pork shoulder is usually sliced into a triangle form with the skin on. The pork butt will be packaged as a rectangular piece of meat with a bone and no skin.

Cooking Methods Used

Many cooks utilize pork butt to make pulled pork meals that can be shredded after stewing or slow-cooked to make dishes like carnitas tacos from Mexico. Pork shoulder is typically grilled or roasted to achieve a thin crispy crust on the outside, such as pork roast or crispy pork crackling. 

(Source: Masterclass

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