Pork Shoulder for making sausage??? Decided on Butts help needed?

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by bluebombersfan, Mar 1, 2012.

  1. bluebombersfan

    bluebombersfan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    What is the perfect meat/fat ratio for a pork butt for sausage making?  I have found a butcher that sells whole pork shoulders for a really good price and was wondering if they could be used in place of pork butts for sausage making?  they are full skin on shoulders so I thought they should have a good fat ratio in them.  I have always used butts but always just took a guess from what they looked like for fat content.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2012
  2. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yes they are good. Just cut the outer tuff skin off if its still there.
  3. bluebombersfan

    bluebombersfan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks Rick!!  What is the ideal fat content I should be using? 
  4. shoneyboy

    shoneyboy Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I bought a case of shoulders last year to make sausage with (butcher made me a deal I couldn’t refuse too), but to be honest, I wasn’t pleased with them. I’m not sure if I didn’t trim them correct or not, but I HATE to find cartilage in my sausage and it seemed like every piece that I bit into I found a piece….From my experience they are not anything like butts…..and I’m not going to waste my time or money on them again…..Again, I may have done something wrong with them.  They may be perfectly good for sausage…and maybe someone else may know what to do with them…..Good Luck SB
  5. bluebombersfan

    bluebombersfan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    thanks for the heads up.  I have used them before for pulled pork and they turn out fantastic that's why I thought they may be good for sausage as well.  I agree with not being a fan of cartilage in my sausge though......
  6. Deleted by SausageBoy!
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
  7. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Like SausageBoy said it is a matter of preference.

    Mostly I use the Butt end (Boston butt).  I usually find them to my liking for general sausage making depending on how they are cut and trimmed. Sometimes I add or subtract a little fat depending on how they are broken down. You will find a better meat to waste ratio on the butt than you will on the bottom of the shoulder which is often called the picnic here in the US.

    Some here like 80/20.  I find that a little lean for my taste in some sausages.  I like 25 to 30% fat better for texture and flavor.  But that is a personal preference, and I realize that some have health considerations. Maybe I should have health considerations in mind too, but things like sausage and bacon have fat and salt by nature?  Possibly moderation is in order.

    Good luck and good smoking.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2012
  8. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I use what ever is on sale. I have used both Butts and Picnics. I could be wrong, but I believe the whole shoulder is both a butt and picnic together. Me personally the only difference I can see between them is the amount of fat, the butts tend to be more fatty. If it was me I would go for it and since you are grinding up both I feel you would have a good fat to meat ratio for sausage. 
  9. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    You are going to want to seperate the Muscles along the natural seams. You will then see Connective Tissue ( CT ) on and some times in the meat. As you get closer to the part closest to where the foot was the CT goes from Clear to Silver to Solid White/Yellow. The Clear and Thin Silver Skin CT can be ground with the Meat...BUT...The Dense Silver Skin and Solid White/Yellow CT, aka Tendon, should be removed and discarded. This is the stuff that ends up in Sausage that feels like biting into Cartilage. Since there is more of this type of CT in a Picnic/Shoulder than a Butt there is more Knife Work but because the Picnic/Shoulder is a more active muscle it has a little richer Flavor than a Butt...JJ
  10. bluebombersfan

    bluebombersfan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    So here goes,  Being a little leary of using the shoulder for such a rookie butcher I decided to go with butts.  Last time I was at the butcher I noticed a sign up for "pork trim" for sausage making for a decent price so I thought I would try some of that too.  I ordered 30lbs of boneless butt and 10 pounds of the trim, when I ordered they told me they didn't have regular trim only lean for a few cents more.  I thought sure why not I would like to try it out.  Well my problem now is I am not sure if I have enough fat content for making sausage.  Here is a picture of the trim I bought after I cut out again what a rookie would deem not going into my sausage.  It went from 10 pounds to just under 8 so I think I got rid of too much good stuff.


    Plus after posting the picture I notcied another spot of blood to get rid of.


    Here is a pic of two of the four butts that went along with my order.  I guess i'm just not sure now if I will have enough fat as the butts only have this thin layer of fat on one side.  I do have some pork fat in the freezer that I could add but how does a guy know he has the right ratio?  I'm sure for most the pros its just a sinple look you go for but for a rookie like me does anyone have any advice?  Up until now I have always used pre ground or just used pork butt. 

  11. Deleted by SausageBoy!
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2012
  12. bluebombersfan

    bluebombersfan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks for the response!  My gut is that it will be a little lean and I think I will add the 1.25lb of fat that I have in the freezer to the whole mix and see how it goes.
  13. tsulcoski

    tsulcoski Smoke Blower

    Pork Butts and shoulder are part of the whole Pork Shoulder. The Pork Butt will contain more fat and less veins and cartilage. The Pork butt moves less when the animal is alive, the less movement the more tender it will be.I prefer the pork butts because it is less work to clean them up. I also grind the leanest part of the pork butts through a coarser plate and the fatty pork though a finer plate, this gives a different texture to the sausage.
  14. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    As SausageBoy said, get your knife out and dive in.  Can't always tell from the outside what you will find on the inside.  With a little practice you will be doing it by eyeball before it is even ground!

    Good luck and good smoking.
  15. nepas

    nepas Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    You should get a good boning knife, Cabelas, BPS, Gander and restaurant supply places have them. Keep it sharp to trim the blades and shanks, Always remember to wash the meat after deboning. I like 80/20 mix for sausage thats smoked. Anything fattier you will have smoked sausage fat.

  16. hdflame

    hdflame Meat Mopper

    I just bought 2 Boston Butts a couple of weeks ago.  The butcher gave me a pack of fat trimmings for free.  One butt weighed about 8 pounds and one weighed about 9 pounds.  The fat that he gave me was about 7 pounds.  I used ALL of the fat with the 2 butts and the sausage came out just like I like it.  To me, it wasn't as fatty as what I buy in the store, but it had enough to have good texture and taste.  That was a little less than half again their weight in fat.

    To me, if you don't put enough fat in it, it will just be too dry.

    Once you get it ground up, add your seasonings and then make a couple of little patties and fry it up and taste it.  Compare it to what you're used to and like.  If you don't have enough seasonings or if it's dry, then add more seasoning and fat to it and try again.

    Like everyone said, each time you'll get a better feel for what you like.  My problem was I didn't add enough fat the first couple times I made sausage.  You have to add more fat to sausage than you do to hamburger.  I was used to making burger, so I had to add more than I thought I needed!  Start out making small batches and keep some notes...then go from there.

    Good luck!
  17. bluebombersfan

    bluebombersfan Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks for all the advice guys!!  I made a batch of breaky sausages that turned out AWESOME!!!
  18. bluebombersfan

    bluebombersfan Master of the Pit OTBS Member


    Here is a close up of the breakfast sausages I made!  they turned out to perfect! 
  19. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The last thing in the world I would ever do is preach about fat, but after 4 strokes there is valid concern for watching your fat input.  I have enjoyed many many years of eating sausages with 30% - 40% fat content and loved the Flavor And Texture, but now with carotids 70-90% clogged and ulcerated, shooting out clots, I have to modify my eating habits.  My oldest son, who is married to a double-masters-degree-Registered Nurse, and I, have made many sausages together with 90% - 95% lean; pork sausages, chicken sausages, turkey sausages, beef and beef/turkey sausages; from breakfast, Italians, polish, summer, etc., as well as skinless turkeys and chickens, extra lean boneless pork sirloin roasts, shoulder beef roasts devoid of all fat, etc.  It is a drier state of meat preparation and presentation.  But, it is expectation.  If you know your end product is going to be lean, you expect it.  In my case, you want it and actually revel in the leanness vs. the fattiness.  Is it dry?  Yes.  Absolutely.  Wonderfully so; you are offended if it was not.  Again, a matter of expectation.  You have to closer watch your temps so as not to overcook the product, however.  But, there is still great flavor to be had and satisfy having meat.  
  20. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Sausage looks great Blue.................... [​IMG]


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