If you’ve ever had the pleasure of grilling or smoking a Boston butt, you know just how delicious it can be when prepared correctly. And the best part? It’s also a budget-friendly option for us BBQ enthusiasts. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the reasons why Boston butt is a great deal and how to make the most of it.
Understanding Boston Butt Pricing
When it comes to purchasing Boston butt, you can expect to pay around $1.79 to $2.29 per pound. However, keep an eye out for special sales where you can find it for as low as 99 cents per pound. When the price is this low, it’s definitely worth stocking up on this versatile cut of meat.
All About Boston Butt
Boston butt, also known as pork butt, is a cut of meat taken from the animal’s shoulder. It’s important not to confuse it with pork shoulder, which is sourced from a lower section of the foreleg. Sometimes, you may come across a cut labeled “whole pork shoulder,” which includes both the Boston butt and the pork shoulder, also referred to as the “picnic shoulder” or “picnic roast.”
Boston butt is well-suited for slow cooking due to its high fat and connective tissue content. As it cooks slowly, the fat renders out, resulting in incredibly tender and juicy meat that falls apart at the touch. It’s the perfect cut for making pulled pork sandwiches or flavorful pork carnitas for Mexican street tacos.
A Guide to Boston Butt Pricing
The cost of Boston butt can vary depending on several factors, but there are ways to save money and get the best price.
Buying in Bulk
One golden rule when purchasing pork butt is to buy in bulk. Typically, when you buy a large quantity of meat at once, the price per pound is lower. Look for deals at big-box retailers like Sam’s Club or Costco. Additionally, keep in mind that the price may vary by region and market conditions. While the average price is around $1.79 to $2.29 per pound, it’s not uncommon to find Boston butt priced below a dollar per pound in certain areas, especially for bone-in cuts. This affordability makes it even more attractive to stock up on in advance.
Don’t worry about having too much pulled pork on your hands. It’s an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be frozen and used at a later date. If you’re looking for ideas on how to utilize your leftover pulled pork, check out the “Other Uses for Boston Butt” section below.
Bone-in vs. Boneless
Opting for bone-in pork butt will also help reduce the overall cost per pound. While you’ll have slightly less meat due to the presence of the bone, the quality makes up for it. Bone-in pork butt produces juicier and more flavorful results.
Preparing Boston Butt for the Grill or Smoker
Before you start grilling or smoking your Boston butt, here are a few tips to ensure excellent results:
- Don’t trim too much fat: Though it may not look appealing initially, the fat on the meat will transform during the cooking process, enhancing the flavor.
- Consider portioning: If you have an especially large Boston butt, consider cutting it into smaller portions for quicker and more manageable cooking.
- Mustard and seasoning: Coat the pork butt with prepared yellow mustard to help the spices adhere. Experiment with different mustards, like Dijon or spicy varieties, as long as they complement the desired flavor profile. Next, thoroughly coat the pork with a seasoning blend of your choice.
- Choosing the right smoke: If using a pellet smoker or wood chips, a combination of apple and hickory will provide a balanced and delicious smoky flavor without overwhelming the pork.
- Cooking temperature and time: Preheat the grill or smoker to 225°F (107°C). Place the seasoned pork in the center of the rack, fat side up. Cover and cook until the internal temperature reaches about 200°F (93°C). This slow cooking process can take up to 20 hours for an 8 to 10-pound pork butt, so patience is key. To speed things up, consider wrapping the pork in foil or butcher paper after a few hours in the smoker.
- Resting time: Once the pork is removed from the grill, let it rest for at least an hour by wrapping it in foil. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in moist and tender pulled pork.
- Shredding and serving: While shredding the pork, remove any large pieces of fat and gristle. Once shredded, you can serve the pork with barbecue sauce on the side, allowing everyone to season the meat according to their preferences.
Other Uses for Boston Butt
Even if your Boston butt shrinks after cooking, you might still find yourself with generous servings of pulled pork. Here are a few creative ideas for making the most of your leftovers:
Use your pulled pork to top a pizza. Roll out the dough, spread your favorite barbecue sauce, and shredded mozzarella cheese. Add a generous amount of pulled pork and finish it off with a scoop of fresh coleslaw, especially if you’re using previously frozen pulled pork. For a less crispy texture, place the pork under the cheese or coat it in barbecue sauce before adding it to the pizza.
Baked Potato Filling
Transform your baked potatoes into a hearty meal by topping them with shredded pork, barbecue sauce, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. Add a kick with some pickled jalapeno peppers and garnish with scallions before serving.
The rich and smoky flavor of pulled pork makes it an excellent base for a flavorful stew or chili. Roast fresh tomatillos, yellow onions, and garlic, then puree them with chicken stock. Combine the puree with the pork, slowly reheat, and season with salt, pepper, and cumin to taste. Serve the chili over rice or enjoy it with freshly baked cornbread for a satisfying and complete meal.
For a lighter option, toss a mixture of greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and homemade vinaigrette. Divide the salad into bowls and top it with pulled pork. If desired, you can gently reheat the pork before adding it to the salad.
When you come across Boston butt priced below $2 per pound, seize the opportunity and stock up. The initial investment will prove worthwhile, especially if you freeze a few portions for future use. Now that you’re armed with the knowledge and techniques to transform Boston butt into mouthwatering dishes, grill it up, and enjoy the delicious results.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!