Pork Butt Recipes?

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I smoked by first pork shoulder last weekend. I was never a big pulled pork guy, but it was outstanding.... maybe better then ribs...
 
Pork shoulder is just wonderful cooked long and slow, with enough fat to be self-basting.. Some things I've done with it:

Cut it up and use it in stew (especially green chile stew!)
Braise the whole shoulder in a slightly more dilute and less sweet version of what's used for the braised Shanghai pork belly

It is also perfect for Porchetta, but I haven't made it myself, just eaten a ton of it made by others.

I get really annoyed when I see pork shoulder cut into mediocre chops. It's a braising/slow-roasting cut.
 
I honestly found tacos al pastor much sexier in name and idea than it delivered in taste. I mean, it was good the couple times I've done it but I personally didn't find it compelling enough to justify the work.

My favorite for smoking is mixing roughly equal parts apple juice, apple cider vinegar, and Fireball whiskey then rubbing the roast down with it. Use whatever spices trip your trigger and then spray with the mixture about every hour. Then when you're ready to wrap the roast, pour a couple tablespoons of the mixture into the foil and wrap it up.

If you have some leftover you can also use it in a homemade BBQ sauce.

I find this to be a great base that I can as is or steer into whatever recipes I want. I often will make a red sauce out of dried chilis and have at least one taco night.

When I get down to not a lot left I also often toss it in the food processor with mayo, Worchester sauce, spices, etc. and make sandwich spread with it.
 
I used to buy a lot of pork shoulder during the height of covid when beef was ridiculous. Now, pork butt raised in price so I buy less. Here were some of my favorites:

  • Porchetta: Debone, butterfly, score the inside a little and add lots of seasonings (I like mustard, coriander, a little cumin, fennel seeds, garlic, lemon zest). Roll and tie, roast in a 250-300 degree oven until it reads 160-200F depending on how you like your pork. I tend to go higher, like 180-190 ish. Go to 200 or 203 and you have pulled pork, which is delicious but hard to slice. I really like it the next day, sliced thick and fried with lots of fat.

  • Confit: Get a fatty pork butt, cube it into large cubes and add to a pot with pork fat or oil and salt. Helen Rennie has a recipe that I follow, except I don't add as much spices. It makes decent tacos and is basically fool proof. Also, the broth that comes off is great.

  • Bacon: Slice the fatty portion of the pork butt off and treat it like bacon. Salt it (I like 1.5% salt by mass) and add seasonings. Refrigerate for 4-6 days, then roast / smoke until the middle is like, over 140. You need to add some prague powder or something if you want to actually make bacon, but I just make salted pork as I'm trying to not eat as much nitrites.

  • Asian: This is great for scraps of the butt or shoulder. Dice it (try to remove silverskin or anything tough) and marinade with soy / soy + fish sauce. It freezes well. Cook in a cast iron or carbon steel pan over very high heat, brown what you can and don't overcook it. I stopped making stir fried beef because it was too expensive and this was good enough.

  • Pulled pork: I'm super lazy. I just salt and pepper, then throw in the oven at 225 until it reads 200. I put a pan of water in the oven to make sure it doesn't get dry. If it stalls, I just increase the heat.

  • Sausage: I like pork butt for sausage. I haven't had time recently, but its a lot of fun and very rewarding. You need a sausage stuffer though. I made it the first time with the sausage stuffer on a kitchen-aid mixer. Mistake. Everything smeared and it took hours.

  • Stew: I used pork butt to stretch western style beef stew. It works best when you have a really beefy cut of beef (like ox tail). Its not my favorite, but it is interesting. It works better in Thai curry or red braised. I've also made ragu with big chunks of pork and thats pretty interesting. I like it better than ground meat.

If you get a pork shoulder with the skin on, there's other options but I've had more duds with pork shoulder than butt. You can make cantonese roast pork. I don't quite remember the recipe, but it revolves around poking the skin with holes and broiling it to get it to puff. Its a pain and I've never made it correctly.
 
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I cannot believe I forgot Cantonese roast pork. Shoulder works perfectly. You need plenty of fat. I don't know about broiling, I just cut it into thick strips, cut across 3/4 of the way at 1" intervals, marinate the heck out of it, and roast it in the oven, hanging from S-hooks over a pan of water. Ambrosia, if you get good pork, which supermarkets seem less and less inclined to deliver. I have to mailorder most of my pork to get good quality.
 
Pork shoulder is just wonderful cooked long and slow, with enough fat to be self-basting..
This. All you really need to do is S&P on the outside and slow roast. Can slather in with oil, but not really needed. Can add various dried herbs to go with the S&P. I leave good fat cap in place (but cut off any skin, if it came with it). Cook at lowish temp (~250 degF) until near desired temp and then blast with broiler to brown it. But really, you'll also get good results just roasting it at 350 degF for the full cooking time.

Braising is another great option. Heck, you can even just wrap it in foil and roast it that way, so it braises in it's own fat in the oven.

It is a very forgiving cut, and it cheap, cheap, cheap. We can make one and 2-3 of us will eat it for dinner the next 5 days.
 
To me, pork butt equals barbecue, and that means smoking low and slow and getting that wonderful smoke flavor infused, and the connective parts dissolved such that it’s tender and moist. Done right, I think this is what it’s all about. You can make tacos and other stuff too, of course, but pulled pork with spicy vinegar sauce and fresh slaw is the only reason…

When my daughter was a teenager we’d take motorcycle trips to the Lexington NC area and search out the most authentic BBQ joints in the state. So yea, I might have a bit of a narrow perspective. I bought a new smoker this spring, and a Thermoworks blower-controller. Definitely worth it.
 
To me, pork butt equals barbecue, and that means smoking low and slow and getting that wonderful smoke flavor infused, and the connective parts dissolved such that it’s tender and moist. Done right, I think this is what it’s all about. You can make tacos and other stuff too, of course, but pulled pork with spicy vinegar sauce and fresh slaw is the only reason…
That 👆
I vacuum seal and freeze the leftovers then throw them in the sous vide, the smoke flavor just seeps in deeper.
 
To me, pork butt equals barbecue, and that means smoking low and slow and getting that wonderful smoke flavor infused, and the connective parts dissolved such that it’s tender and moist. Done right, I think this is what it’s all about. You can make tacos and other stuff too, of course, but pulled pork with spicy vinegar sauce and fresh slaw is the only reason…

When my daughter was a teenager we’d take motorcycle trips to the Lexington NC area and search out the most authentic BBQ joints in the state. So yea, I might have a bit of a narrow perspective. I bought a new smoker this spring, and a Thermoworks blower-controller. Definitely worth it.
I have had some really nice BBQ pulled pork in North Carolina. This is not a typical Texas BBQ.

It may change now that briskets are in $70 range. Texas BBQ is expensive lately.

I was up in Canada a few years ago and they were using blue berry BBQ sauce. It was nice and I brought some home.
 
I like slow cooked with orange juice, lime zest, ginger, soy sauce, garlic, onion, brown sugar, sambal oelek, and jalapeno.

I either eat it as pulled pork with the sauce, or toss some of the meat and sauce in the wok with additional soy sauce and brown sugar. I wok it till it’s basically glazed and slightly crispy; it’s a completely different flavor profile that way.

And since this is kkf, here it is with Yoshikane doing the honors.

 
I cannot believe I forgot Cantonese roast pork. Shoulder works perfectly. You need plenty of fat. I don't know about broiling, I just cut it into thick strips, cut across 3/4 of the way at 1" intervals, marinate the heck out of it, and roast it in the oven, hanging from S-hooks over a pan of water. Ambrosia, if you get good pork, which supermarkets seem less and less inclined to deliver. I have to mailorder most of my pork to get good quality.
I always have problems getting the skin to get puffy and crispy (like chicharrón) without intense heat so I use a broiler. Of course, I don't do the proper vinegar, salt crusting stuff either so maybe that would help? I can't eat much of it so I haven't iterated it enough. What do you use for marinade?
 
Here is one I smoked a while back using just salt and black pepper.
IMG_0292.jpg
 
I don't have access to a smoker or BBQ, so I "cheat" and use Chipotle peppers. I prefer using the dried peppers instead of the ones in the can with adobo sauce. I hydrate them, blend with cilantro, garlic, chili powder, salt and some of the hydration liquid. Dice an onion and place that in the bottom of the pan. Place pork on top. Pour chipotle mixture over the pork. Cover in aluminum foil and cook at 350° for 2-3 hours or so, depending on size of the pork.

Afterwards pull apart or chop pork. Add pan juice until desired flavor and heat level is achieved.
 
I don't have access to a smoker or BBQ, so I "cheat" and use Chipotle peppers. I prefer using the dried peppers instead of the ones in the can with adobo sauce. I hydrate them, blend with cilantro, garlic, chili powder, salt and some of the hydration liquid. Dice an onion and place that in the bottom of the pan. Place pork on top. Pour chipotle mixture over the pork. Cover in aluminum foil and cook at 350° for 2-3 hours or so, depending on size of the pork.

Afterwards pull apart or chop pork. Add pan juice until desired flavor and heat level is achieved.
And if you want it milder, sub some smoked paprika for some chipotle.
 
I was up in Canada a few years ago and they were using blue berry BBQ sauce. It was nice and I brought some home.

I'm a fan of blueberry in BBQ sauce. The last time a modified a store bought sauce, I add a huge chuck of blueberry jam (along with some apricot jam). Worked really nicely glazing some pork ribs.
 
One that hasn't been mentioned is a Filipino staple - pork adobo. Easy and tasty.
 
I like cooking pork butts on the smoker as they turn out best that way. It's a hassle though as I have to put them on before the sun comes up if we want to eat it for dinner.

A much easier way is to put the pork butt in a crock pot and add some sea salt and liquid smoke. It cooks a bit faster this way and it's completely brainless and impossible to screw up. I cook it on high until it's falling off the bone and as tender as can be. You loose the char but the meat is exceptional for tacos or pulled pork sandwiches.
 
I have had some really nice BBQ pulled pork in North Carolina. This is not a typical Texas BBQ.

Yea, it’s different than Texas alright. NC has a deep BBQ tradition (almost religion) that differs slightly by region. The heritage has passed through generations of family and many of the old places continue to be operated by descendants of the founders. I have books on it. They are quite insistent on adhering to traditional methods- only wood-fired pits, specific sauce contents, etc. Eastern Carolina cooks whole hogs and no tomato in the sauce, whereas Piedmont (middle NC, Lexington) smokes butts (shoulders) and adds some tomato. South Carolinians use a mustard sauce. Any type of gas or electric heat disqualifies it as true NC BBQ. Slaw tends to be sweet, red, vinegar based and no mayonnaise. And it’s only pork- no brisket/beef, sheep or chickens. You can cook these but they ain’t BBQ. Period. And barbecue is a noun, not a verb ( you cook or smoke, you don’t barbecue). The definitive book is entitled Holy Smoke by John and Dale Reed for anyone interested in a deep dive. And there’s Bob Garner’s Guide to North Carolina BBQ to help locate specific places (joints). You’ll always find brick pits and a huge pile of hickory wood at the traditional joints. Only smoked on site. Holy Smoke is a great read even if you’re not a subscriber to the NC rule book.
 
I'm a fan of blueberry in BBQ sauce. The last time a modified a store bought sauce, I add a huge chuck of blueberry jam (along with some apricot jam). Worked really nicely glazing some pork ribs.

Another twist is to mix apricot or peach jam with jalapenos (or serrano), vinegar, Worchester sauce, etc. Goes great with pork.
 
i'm looking for something new to try with pork butts (shoulders).

i've cooked a bunch of them in smokers and ovens. winners for me have been bbq pulled pork and cochinita pibil tacos. next on my list might be tacos al pastor.

what do you guys like making?
Trying my first tomorrow with Italian seasoning. I did it on some chops, and we really liked it, so going to see how it does with a bone in butt. I'll try to remember to come back and report.
 

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