Boston Butt - best cut for pulled pork

By , Medium Well

Chances are you have probably eaten a Boston Butt and didn't even realise. You see, a Boston Butt is widely regarded as being the best cut of pork for making the ever popular ‘pulled pork’ and it is a cut used in restaurants and smokehouses across the USA and is becoming more common here in the UK nowadays.

Boston Butt comes from the upper shoulder of pork (pork collar), with the chine bone left in, squared off, with the rind removed. What you are left with is a lovely well marbled cut of pork, with little (or no waste), making it excellent value for money. The choice cut for pit-masters and competition barbecue teams it is renowned as the best joint for pulled pork because the chine bone evenly distributes heat during cooking, ensuring slow optimum temperatures can be held for a lengthy period, helping to slowly break the collagen down and melt it to the rich liquid gelatine. This gives meat a lot of flavour and a wonderful silky texture, and is the main reason why Pulled Pork is so tasty.

Although widely sold across the USA, a butchered Boston Butt can be hard to get hold of in the UK. It is growing in popularity (with even Waitress selling ‘a version’ of the cut) in the UK and Boston Butt in the UK will eventually be more common as it saves a lot of time and money compared to butchering a shoulder at home yourself, unless you are a competent butcher and have access to the right tools.

It is not completely known why the Boston Butt has its curious name, but it is almost certainly related to the city itself. Pork shoulder in the USA is generally cut slightly different from here in Britain, portioned into three sections; the butt, picnic, and shank. It is believed that the cut became popular in Boston in the 19th Century when it was a cheap cut, used in one-pot stews by the Irish population, with Irish butchers developing the cut to take off the rind for better use when cooking stews. Since then it has become popular across America, especially with the barbecue community, as the Boston Butt includes the 'money muscle' which is a small strip of loin meat that professionals hope will win them the money when tasted.

Easy to cook the Boston Butt, simply needs rubbing with some spices or a BBQ meat rub, then cooking on a slow-and-low heat either in the oven, smoker or BBQ. If choosing to oven roast, there are some great recipes over on the Love Pork website

Preheat your oven to 220°C (fan 200°C), Gas Mark 7. Line a roasting tin with a sheet of foil large enough to cover the pork later. Loosely fold the foil back for now and put the Boston Butt in the oven for 20 minutes leaving the top uncovered so it browns up.

Turn the oven down to a slow-and-low temperature of 150°C (fan 130°C), Gas Mark 2 then take the butt from the oven and fold the foil over making sure the Boston Butt is now covered. Pop it back in the oven and let it cook for about 5 hours or until tender.

Take it out of the oven, and keep it in the foil and let it rest for 30 minutes. It’s really important not to skip this step, as this is where the meat magic happens and all of the juicy pulled pork is formed when the meat relaxes.

Pull the pork apart into chunky pieces using two forks, and/or your hands. Stir in some more seasoning or bbq rub if you want to spice things up, then enjoy some exquisite pulled pork.