Pork Shoulder Vs. Pork Butt

A lot of people get confused between pork shoulders and pork butts. Some people think that the pork shoulder came from the upper part of the pig near the head and the pork butt is from the tail part of the pig. Most people do not know that both the pork shoulder and pork butt come from the same area of the pig. The pork butt is from the meat, which is located on the upper part portion of the pig’s shoulder blades. On the other hand, the pork shoulder comes from the lower part of the pig’s front hoofs. 

In this article, we will discuss the difference between the two and which cut are you going to choose when you are going to cook individual dishes. 

What is Pork Shoulder?

Pork shoulder, also known as the pork picnic shoulder or picnic roast, is usually found on the lower part of the pig. It is a cut triangularly, and it is generally from the front leg of the pig. The muscles on this part of the pig are more used than the pork butt, making the meat on this part denser and tougher type of meat. 

When buying a pork shoulder, you will notice that it is usually sold with its bone attached to it and still skinned. The bone will give additional flavor to the meat while the skin will crisp up and bring another texture to the meat. It has less fat marbling, and make sure to cook this cut correctly so that the meat will not be that tough when being served. 

How to Cook?

There are many ways that you can use when you are going to cook the pork shoulder. A low and slow cooking method is possibly one of the best ways to prepare it due to its low fat marbling and unusual shape. 

You can also braise or stew your pork shoulder then slice it to your preferred slice before serving it. If you opt to cook and do it as a whole, you must take note that the meat must be taken out from the refrigerator at around 30-minutes before your cooking time. 

When cooked properly, the meat of the pork shoulder will have a very nice flavor and texture. It will be kind of sweet due to the juice that it will produce 

What is Pork Butt?

The pork butt, also known as the Boston butt, is found on the pig’s shoulder blade just right behind its head. This particular cut still has a generous amount of fat attached to it since this part of the pig is not that used compared to the pork shoulder. It is guaranteed that the meat is not that tough when cooked and will be juicier with its fat. 

You will notice that the pork butt will still have a blade bone attached to it and a fat cap on the other side. You can ask the butcher to thinly slice it or cut it into pork steaks so that you can grill it. Choose the right cut, depending on what you are going to cook. 

How to Cook?

One of the best ways to cook this cut is to slow cooks like roasting, stewing, and even barbecue smoking with its generous amount of fat. Pork butt is also the ideal cut when you are going to prepare a pulled pork recipe. 

How to Choose Between Pork Shoulder and Pork Butt?

Even though they came from the same region on the pig’s body, there are three noticeable differences between the pork shoulder and pork butt that will help you decide what cut you should buy. The first thing that you will notice is its shape. The pork shoulder does have a not typical triangular shape and has thinner ends. On the other hand, the pork butt is from a much thicker and more marbled lot of the pig. 

Another thing that you will notice is their difference when it comes to fat content. The pork butt consists of more fat and marbling compared to the pork shoulder. The pork shoulder usually has a leaner and tougher kind of meat. 

Since they do not have the same consistency and texture, they also have different uses when cooked. The pork butt has more fat on it, making it a better choice if you are going to slow cook it so that you will produce a slice of more tender and perfectly moist pork. You can then use this for any pulled pork recipes. The pork shoulder, having a piece of tougher meat, is the right choice for your tacos or ramen. You can slice it, depending on what you are going to prepare.

Since the pork shoulder also has an attachment on it, it is also good to cook it as a whole.

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