Butt or Shoulder?

Discussion in 'Pork' started by robertwhite, Sep 7, 2013.

  1. robertwhite

    robertwhite Fire Starter

    I'm sure this has been asked, but I can't find it doing a search......

    What is the difference between Pork Butt & Pork Shoulder?

    Here's why I ask.

    I recently smoked an 8.5lb shoulder (bone in) for pulled pork and it came out a bit dry as some parts were a higher temp. when read with a Thermoworks digital. Once the juices were mixed back in it was fine, but still have no idea why. This is the second time this has happened with a bone in shoulder.

    I have also done butts in the past that came out very juicy and very even in temp.

    So I an trying to figure out the differences between the cuts and is one preferred over the other?

    Note: All were rubbed and injected using the same technique and cooked at right around 225*
  2. dave c

    dave c Newbie

    At what temp was the pork shoulder when you took it out.?  What I have found throughout the years of cooking pork shoulders some take it out at 165-180, during that time frame portions of the shoulder will be dry and some not.  The internal fat has not had the time to break down in order to saturate the pork shoulder and moisture it.  Normal temp to take out a pork shoulder should be 192-200 some leave in tip 225.  Now this is Internal Temp not cooking temp.

    Once the shoulder reaches a temperature between 175-185 it tends to stall out and stay there some awhile (1-1 1/2 hours)  During this time of a stall temperature, it is breaking down the fat inside that great pork shoulder.  It is after that stall that the meat starts to get tender and moist.

    An 8.5 pork shoulder depending on the type smoker, temperature out side, (all this comes into play) will take about 10-12 hours respectively.

    The Pork Butt is the extended portion of the pork shoulder.

    I hope this helps
  3. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    The Shoulder is the lower half of a hogs front leg. The Butt is the actual shoulder of the hog. The Shoulder is Cone shaped, thick on the side where it attaches to the Butt and thin where it tapers to the foot. The Butt is pretty much one uniform big square hunk of meat. The Shoulder is usually sold with a good portion of the Skin still on. This is good and bad. Smoke and Rub do not penetrate skin so most folks remove it before smoking...But...That skin is very good at protecting the meat of the small end from drying out. Next Shoulder, remove about half the skin, rub and smoke. This will give plenty of flavor and the thin end will be protected from drying. Remove the skin and fat before pulling. The Smoked Skin is valuable as well so don't toss it. The skin is great to flavor Beans, Soups, Collard Greens and anything else you want a Smoke Pork flavor in. Got to mention, your dogs will look at adoringly for days for such a great treat!...JJ
  4. robertwhite

    robertwhite Fire Starter

    Meat was taken off heat at 198-202* internal depending on where temp was taken.

    Is one cut considered "better" than the other?
  5. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    There is a trade off...The Butt has a small bone, no skin and a 50-60% yield. you end up with more meat after cooking. The Shoulder has a big bone, skin to be removed and about a 40% yield. But because it is a more active group of muscles, the Shoulder meat is more flavorful and is more frequently on sale so almost always a lot cheaper per pound. To make up the loss you need to use the skin as described and the larger bone makes great stock or soup. I add them to my pot with Beef and Chicken bones to make Chinese Wonton Soup or Vietnamese Pho. There was a recent pole, I can't seem to find it, where the members voted 3 or 4 to 1 for using Butts over Shoulders for sausage making, but most of the Shoulder proponents were more seasoned veterans that made use of every part...JJ

Share This Page