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Boston Butt

by Jane Worthington-Roth

Boston butt or pork butt is the American name for a cut of pork that comes from the upper part of the shoulder from the front leg, the blade shoulder. Boston butt is the most common cut used for pulled pork, a barbeque staple in southern states. Sheer barbeque bliss!

What’s wonderful about pork shoulder is that it is a big, tough, inexpensive piece of meat that is magically transformed into a tender succulent dish by slowly cooking it at a low temperature for a long period of time. You don’t need to add any additional oil or fat to cook it, simply rub some dry spices into the meat. It couldn’t be easier to make.

The odd name heralds from pre-revolutionary New England and into the American Revolutionary War when New England butchers tended to take less prized cuts of pork like hams and shoulders and pack them into barrels for storage and transport, known as a butt. This particular cut became known as a Boston specialty, hence the name "Boston butt." In Mexico, the same cut is used to make “carnitas” by slowly simmering the pork in lard until tender.

My recipe is simple, but you have to plan on a full nine hours of slow-roast cooking time. The timing works out great if you begin around 10AM to have it ready for dinner at 7PM. The meat will shrink a lot when cooking, so plan to cook a big piece of meat! The following recipe serves about 6 to 8 people.

Boston Butt

One 7 to 9 pound bone-in pork shoulder (Boston Butt)

Dry Rub:
3 tablespoons pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika)
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon dry mustard powder

BBQ sauce
Rolls, for serving

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the dry rub, mixing well.

Coat the pork all over with the dry rub. Place the pork fat side up in a 9 x 13 x 2 pan and roast, covered with foil, for 6 hours. Check periodically to be certain that the liquid rendered fat is not overflowing the pan.

Uncover and roast for an additional 3 hours to let it brown.

The fat on the pork will melt into a delicious sauce. You can pour out some of this rendered fat and set aside while you shred the pork with two large forks. Toss with your favorite barbeque sauce, adding a little of the rendered fat back for extra flavor.

Serve on a hard roll for a traditional pulled pork dinner with side dishes such as cole slaw and chips.