UK equivalent of Boston butt

Discussion in 'UK Smokers' started by andybigwood, Jan 28, 2014.

  1. I'm almost ready to make a trip to my local butcher to buy a Boston Butt, but rather than assuming my butcher understanding what I'm after, is there a UK equivalent cut that I can ask for?

    Interested to hear about other peoples experiences at their UK butchers when asking for this pork cut?
  2. darwin101

    darwin101 Meat Mopper

    I think y'all call it a shoulder blade roast.  [​IMG]  

  3. Hello Andy.  And this is why we have our Group.  I haven't yet gotten one here but I was about to try and order a butt myself.  I am not sure the terminology here but Darwin is correct in that you want a shoulder blade roast.  If you have a meat wholesalers near you I would try there.  It seems to me the wholesalers are more clued up on the American terminology.  I can guarantee it will not be what they get in the States but will be close. You can chose bone in or have the butcher take it out and roll it.   Have him remove the skin and take it home to make cracklins.  Tell him you want a good fat cap and inform him that if trims the fat there will be a couple of VERY BIG members of the London mafia who will pay him a visit. [​IMG]   British butchers LOVE to trim fat.  Trim as you slice.  You want it straight from the carcass before they ruin it.  I am guessing but it may look VERY fatty to you.  The brisket I order does.  Cook it as is....  NOW here is the kicker that most folks back in the States neglect:  I know what you were thinking; pulled pork.  Here is my opinion, which you didn't ask for:  Why would you spend 6-20 hours smoking a beautiful piece of pork and then rip it up to make a sandwich????  This is an OLD SCHOOL TEXAS thing.  In Texas, restaurants make "chopped beef" sandwiches from brisket.  What they put on the sandwich is the beef that is too tender to slice.  As they try to slice it just shreds.  They can't waste that so, HEY call it chopped beef and throw it on a sandwich with BBQ sauce.  Why not take that pork to an IT of 170-175 tops, wrap it with a nice au jus, put in in a cooler for 2 hours and then slice like Sunday roast?  I have always done butts this way.  This is only my stupid ramblings, opinions, and suggestions.  Let the Group know what you find out.  Good luck.  Keep Smokin!

  4. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You may be surprised how easy it is to get. The butcher sections in both our local Tesco and Waitrose knew exactly what I wanted when I first enquired and also the Internet shopping company Ocado refers to "Seasoned Pork Shoulder (for Pulled Pork)... An American style cut known as 'Boston Butt'."

    I usually buy it from my (almost) local butcher and he also knew what I needed the first time I asked for it.

    Ahh... Fat on Brisket... I find that particular light brown fibrous fat between the flaps of the brisket most unpalatable and so trim it completely off before cooking. I know there are different schools of thought around this but I am most firmly rooted with the cook it trimmed brigade.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2014
  5. Hello.  You folks south of Watford are lucky.  I guess I just need to start educating the local butcher.  GREAT meat but not familiar with the American cuts.  Maybe it's because I live in a small village.  I might find what I want in Notts. or Lincoln.  Keep Smokin!

  6. Darwin, thanks for the cut chart, and also for the 'shoulder blade roast' term.

    I googled that and got some good info back, meaning that I can now talk to UK butchers who aren't down with the US terminology, and be more specific about exactly what I want.

    I have a feeling that there are good, helpful butchers countrywide, who are willing to give you exactly the cut you want - even if it means booking ahead, but you do need to search them out.

    Wholesalers also seem like a good connection to have if they know what you're talking about when you want a Boston Butt [​IMG]

    Danny, you raise an interesting point regarding the pulled or the sliced joint. At the moment,I am drooling over the pulled pork, and will need to get my fill from that style, before moving onto the sliced meat, as I have grown up with sliced roast pork. That said, I do like the idea of preparing a typical sunday roast pork, using the smoker for both the meat and the vegetable, but that is several 'smokes' down the road.

    Wade, your local supermarkets are better than my locals lol - regarding buying from the meat counter anyway :) However, I shall look at some of the pre-wrapped joint to see what's on offer.

    Regarding fat, on either pork or beef, there seems to be 2 camps with one leaving the fat on until after cooking, and others that will remove almost all the fat prior to smoking. How significant to the smoking process is it to leaving the fat on? Does it make the difference between a dry and a succulet, moist cooked product, or is it more a personal choice?
  7. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Danny - Just remember to bring your passport if you are planning to come further south (closer to civilization) than Watford Gap. I can't say that too loud though as my wife is from near Blackpool!

    As I mentioned, I get my meat from my "almost" local butcher. They are a traditional butcher that provides many of the local hotels, restaurants, schools and catering companies. They only source meat locally and can tell you which farm/animal every cut of meat they sell comes from. My actual local butcher on the other hand is almost useless - and unless it comes oven ready with the compulsory square slab of added fat tied onto the top he is out of his depth. Ask around - word of mouth is priceless. Once you fine a good traditional butcher that supplies a wider community than the local aging village then make friends with him/her and develop that important relationship. My "almost" local butcher is about 7 miles from where I live and supply the school in which I now work. They do get the odd few fillets of smoked salmon or Gravadlax or sliced Brisket passed in their direction and they could not be more helpful.

    I have also been very impressed by the knowledge of our local supermarket butchers and fresh fish counter staff (Asda being the exception - around here anyway). I have found though that you do need to avoid asking the 16 year old shelf stackers who look kind of vacantly at you when you ask for anything that does not come in a jar or can!
  8. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I am with Danny on the pull or slice. I much prefer to serve slices of well cooked pork/beef than to shred it. Sometimes it is unavoidable and it does fall apart but I just think it looks better sliced. I do pull/dice if it is going to be served in a BBQ sauce though.

    After the first couple of times cooking brisket where I did leave the fat on, I now always trim it all off before smoking. I find it helps the rub and smoke to penetrate and it avoids that ghastly fatty line that runs through the sliced meat when it is cooked that the guests pick out and leave on the side. I find the brisket fat very unpalatable and so don't eat it either. Some say you need the fat on to keep it moist however I find that it does not need the fat - many of the prize winning briskets I have seen have been fully trimmed before smoking. Trimming off the fat in no way means ending up with a dry product. The way I keep the brisket succulent is to smoke unwrapped for 3 hours before wrapping in foil for the remainder of the cooking time. After resting and unwrapping you have a distinct smoke ring, tender succulent meat and enough juices in the foil to baste the meat with when serving or form the base of a gravy/sauce. Just look at the different ways the US champions cook - they vary so greatly in their techniques.

    I think the answer will be for you to try it both ways and see which you prefer.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2014
  9. Considering the amount of different smoked foods I have now been inspired to try,

    I need to get the bicycle out and ride  for 2hrs everyday, if I'm to try them all as quickly as I want to, and stay relatively fit. [​IMG]
  10. darwin101

    darwin101 Meat Mopper

    No worries Andy, I am more than willing to share my wee bit of knowledge with anyone.  This post just reminded me that I need to pick up groceries for the weekend smoke. 

    I just looked at a few photos of the High Street area of Guildford, it looks to be a lovely city.  [​IMG]  
  11. Here's a photo I took in Guildford, mid-december 2011.

    I used a long shutter speed to make the shoppers look ghostly :)

    Shot from about 1ft off ground.

  12. markuk

    markuk Smoking Fanatic

    I found Tesco's Boned Pork shoulder was pretty good as a nice bit of fatty skin on it ( think for for crackling) around £ 8 to feed 4 or 5

    My local ASDA tend to only have smaller bits but they are okay but are boneless

    Is the fattier it is the better for PP???
  13. darwin101

    darwin101 Meat Mopper

    Andy that is a very cool photo, the clouds and colours do give it that spooky look.

    Mark, I am no expert on this, but I would not buy a real fatty piece. I would guess I want about 20% fat for self basting and moisture.  I am sure the experts will add to this.
  14. Hello.  I agree with Darwin, 20-25% fat ( but I like fattier meat since I am working on my first heart attack ).  We have had several old time questions asked here.  Trim before or after.  Fat cap up or down.  Soak chips before using.  I must agree with what Wade said, many of these things are personal preference and you need to find the way YOU and your family like it.

    Just FYI I trim after ( I also cut out that fat line between flat and point before serving ),  fat cap up, and no soaking.  Good luck.  Keep Smokin!

  15. markuk

    markuk Smoking Fanatic

    Must admit I got this by accident when doing pulled pork and panicked a bit as it wouldn't pull

    However guests reckonedit was the best hog roast they'd had so all was not lost !
  16. So I'm now wondering how you change the sauce/jus that is served depending on whether you serve the pork pulled or sliced?

    I've been reading about the vinegar/brown sugar based sauces that are served with pulled pork which just adds to my need to do the 'pulled' pork,

    but assuming it's more of a gravy being served with the 'sliced' pork, if the recipes differ in some way or another from a traditional roast pork gravy,

    I would love to hear about them.
  17. markuk

    markuk Smoking Fanatic

    I tend to make a BBQ sauce to go with my PP made with the below AND 3 Tablespoons of my rub mix

        200 ml ketchup
        100 ml water
        75 ml cider vinegar
        150 g light soft brown sugar
        3 tbsp clear honey
        2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
        3 garlic cloves, crushed

    Serve in buns with coleslaw

    I wonder if the "gravy" for sliced pork is something like I had Alabama, strangely enough at breakfast in a chain hotel,, but was much lighter and thicker than we would normally have with our roast....
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2014
  18. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    After you have spent so much time and effort on getting the meat to the right texture and flavour in the smoker it seems such a shame to then swamp it with a completely different sauce/gravy. But that is just my personal preference

    It depends on how much natural juice you have after cooking and this will depend on how you have prepared the pork before and during smoking. When you leave the pork to rest in foil afterwards you should naturally have quite a lot of juices - more if the last couple of hours in the smoker are also in foil. If you have injected the meat first with apple juice, vinegar and flavour you will also get more still.

    Whether you need to add more sugar to this though will depend on your rub. If the rub is balanced but with a fairly high sugar content then you may not need to do anything with the juices other than maybe reduce them a little. Taste it first though as it may get too concentrated. Depending on the fat content of the cut of meat you may need to add some butter and maybe a little acidity to the jus to give it a more balance - it is unlikely to need any more seasoning though.

    I often just use this as it is, as "jus", however I sometimes thicken it with a little butter or arrowroot to form a "gravy". If it is going on pulled pork then it can go on quite liquid as there is a lot of meat surface area for it to cling to, however if it is going on slices then you may need to thicken it a little.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2014
  19. wade

    wade Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Lol - now the Biscuits and "Gravy" that the Americans like to eat for breakfast is something completely alien to most people here in the UK. they are effectively savory scones with a white sauce ladled over the top - often flavoured with sausage. The first time I came across them I was somewhat skeptical but curiosity got the better of me and I must confess to really liking them. I now usually eat them for breakfast whenever I am in the USA. The other breakfast dish the Americans are really good at is "Eggs Benedict" mmmmm.

    Grits on the other hand is something I have never really got the hang of - neither is smothering a plate of savory meat and eggs with maple syrup!
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2014
  20. jockaneezer

    jockaneezer Meat Mopper

    Got to agree with your sauce/gravy theory Wade, let the taste of the meat come through I say. We have about 4 or 5 local restaurants that have suddenly started doing pulled pork and brisket. Obviously slow cooked in the oven to get the texture, then smothered in a "generic" bbq sauce which kills it for me although the missus likes it.

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