Pork Shoulders - Picnic or Butt?
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Pork Shoulders - Picnic or Butt?
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Thread: Pork Shoulders - Picnic or Butt?

  1. #1

    Pork Shoulders - Picnic or Butt?

    Howard started a great thread with a couple questions about pork butts: A couple of questions on preparing pulled pork.

    After reading some of the comments I realized the more I stick around this forum the more I see just how much personal preference plays a role in how we cook this fabulous cut of meat.

    There's one difference I don't think we've discussed here yet and was curious about your preferences.

    Now, I know most of you know the difference but some folks reading this might not. So, for clarification's sake
    - There are two shoulder cuts: A Pork Butt (or Boston Butt) is actually the butt end (top half) of a pig's shoulder (not its rear end). And the Picnic cut (sometimes called a picnic ham) is the bottom half.

    Here's a chart: pork_cuts.jpg

    To get a better price, here's a whole 16.25 lb. shoulder I got from the butcher and had him cut it in half. The left half is the Picnic cut, the right half is the Butt end.




    Which cut do you like to use for what purposes? Why? Does cost play a role? What are your preferences?
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  2. #2
    I've always used the butt end; never cooked the picnic. Just seems toooooo bony to me. But maybe I'm closed to potential.
    That's a great picture. . I've seen the individual cuts before but never two side-by-side like that.

    Either way; looks like some good eatin' in your future!
    Howard
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  3. #3
    I'd smoke the butt for pulling and make a ham out of that picnic!
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  4. #4
    He he... That pic was some good eatin' in my past!
    <><
    MAK 1 Star General #651 - 2014 Model
    former owner - MAK 1 Star General #171
    22.5" Weber Performer with Stoven Pellet Grill attachment
    27 + year old 22.5" Weber Kettle (still works fine)
    Modified Horizontal Offset Smoker - used mainly for cold smoking.

  5. #5
    I do know some people who have smoked the picnic for pulling... They said it worked, but it was harder to pull, and a tad bit dryer than the butt portion.
    No Swine Left Behind KCBS BBQ Team
    Peoria Custom Cookers "Meat Monster"
    Lang Clone - 'Blue October'
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  6. #6
    Senior Member sparky's Avatar
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    squirt, you said smoke the butt for pulling, i understand that. you make ham out of the picnic. they not cooked the same way?
    Bo, PDS
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by sparky View Post
    squirt, you said smoke the butt for pulling, i understand that. you make ham out of the picnic. they not cooked the same way?
    Sparky, if I'm understanding your question correctly, in order to make ham the meat has to be cured in a dry salt-cure mix or in a brine for several days. I've been using Picnic cuts for my recent foray into Ham making.

    Now for pulled pork, I cook butts and picnic cuts both the same way and honestly can't say that one is better or harder to pull than the other. This past summer I did 50+ lbs of butts & picnics for the marching band cookout & asked several people to test some of each and no one could tell any difference.

    For slicing the Money Muscle from the butt is superb.

    Two other items from the butt cut I like is pork steaks & country style ribs (versus the western style which is more from the loin).

    For sausage I've been using mainly picnic cuts only becasue I usually get a better price on them and for no other reason.


    Edit: Oh yeah... Can't forget about Poochie! I love getting skin-on shoulders from time to time & cut the skin off to make dog treats. Our Lucy loves when I do that too! That seems to happen more often with picnic cuts.
    Last edited by TentHunter; 02-18-2011 at 11:53 AM.
    <><
    MAK 1 Star General #651 - 2014 Model
    former owner - MAK 1 Star General #171
    22.5" Weber Performer with Stoven Pellet Grill attachment
    27 + year old 22.5" Weber Kettle (still works fine)
    Modified Horizontal Offset Smoker - used mainly for cold smoking.

  8. #8
    butts for pullin...picnic for slicin' imho...but Ive made some killer PP with a picnic..I think you get a lot more out of an injection when using the picnic...there's a "cushion" cut that's always available at my grocery store, I love take up to 185 then slice...mmmmmm...

  9. #9
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    That "Cushion" cut is awesome for slicing but not much good for pulling, not enough fat content but wonderful flavor and firmness. Ask your meat cutter about "Cushion Cut". Hard to beat bone-in Butt for pulling. Also when it comes time for the pulling, use bear claws to do the job or gloved hands if you don't have bear claws.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member sparky's Avatar
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    thank you for the info. didn't know how a ham was made. just knew it was pig and tasted good.
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