Pork butt is a product that we take very seriously here at ButcherBox despite its rather silly sounding name. If you are a subscriber, you might have found the cut in your box this month. We take a bit of regional pride in the cut, which is also widely known — at least in the U.S. — as Boston butt.
Ahh, you got us, we have a tough time here not letting our provincialism get the best of us; and, although the name — and history — pulls on our hometown heartstrings, there is a lot to like about pork butt.
First things first, let’s dig into the — let’s call it unique — name.
Believe it or not, pork butt does not actually come from any part of the hog that is close to its derriere. In fact, the cut actually comes from a pig’s shoulder. In other parts of the world, most notably Britain, the cut is called “pork hand and spring,” “pork hand,” or more commonly, “pork shoulder on the bone.” In Spanish it is paleta de puerco, or espaldilla which translates to “little back,” and in Korea, it is moksal meaning “neck meat.”
If you haven’t figured out by now, pork butt is an extremely popular cut of meat across the globe. It is one of the more widely used cuts because of the quantity of food it provides and because it is simple to cook it over a long period of time without much fuss.
Enjoy a good pulled-pork sandwich? Most likely, you are eating pork butt. Carnitas for your burrito? Pork butt. Sweet and spicy bulgogi? You guessed it, pork butt.
You might be wondering why the cut has a different — and somewhat odd — name here in the U.S.
According to “Mental Floss,” New England butchers used to take the less popular cuts of pork and pack them away for storage and transport. Now, this first started happening in the colonial days and the barrels they used to pack the pork were known back then as ‘butts.’
The pork in a butt, or pork butt for short, gained popularity over time. So how does Boston fit in here?
Well, as pork butt became a favorite cut across the country, it became connected to butchers and traditions primarily from New England and was thus often referred to as Boston butt.
We really love the cut so much, we have a bunch of different recipes that we are experimenting with to share with our subscribers. Below, you will find a new recipe from ButcherBox Head Chef, Yankel Polak featuring pork butt.
Chef Yankel can barely contain his enthusiasm for the cut and the creative ways you can make amazing meals with pork butt. “I love to stab the pork with a sharp knife and insert garlic cloves and jalapeños into the holes,” he said. “It creates a great flavor, and also the stabbing helps break down tissue.”
“The key to a really good butt is steam, so — when using a Dutch oven or slow cooker — make sure there is plenty of liquid in the bottom and that it is well covered,” Yankel said. He then suggests letting it rest in the liquid and shredding while it’s still hot, straight into the braising liquid, or cutting it up separately and then adding a sauce. “I love reusing the liquid to braise other things or skim the fat and make sauce,” he added.
Chef Yankel also suggests giving pork butt a dry rub and letting it sit overnight uncovered in the fridge. “This will dry out the surface a little and add some texture when you shred it.”
But there is one way to cook pork butt that Chef Yankel rates above all others: “If you have a smoker,” he said, “Fugetaboutit…It will be the best you ever tasted.”
Here is Chef Yankel’s “Smoky Coffee Rubbed Pulled Pork” recipe:
Servings: 6 Prep: 5 min Cook: 4 hours
The trick to fork-tender pulled pork is slow cooking and low temperature. We want plenty of moisture as well, steam is crucial to a tender juicy texture! Rub the pork butt the day before and refrigerate overnight for the flavors to really set in. Be sure to use a tightly closed oven-safe pot for this recipe, or a slow cooker works great too!
- 1 ButcherBox Pork Butt
- 2 Tbsp ground coffee
- 2 Tbsp chipotle powder
- 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 1tsp ground coriander
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 c apple cider
- 1 onion rough chop
- Preheat oven to 300°
- Place apple cider and onions in a Dutch oven and bring to boil.
- Mix all remaining ingredients and rub all over pork butt.
- Place pork butt into the Dutch oven, close tightly and place in oven.
- Braise until pork is fork tender, about 3–3.5 hours.
- Turn oven to 425°F and roast pork butt uncovered an additional 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let rest in liquid 15 min before shredding with a fork.