Pork

It's High Time to Praise Pork Butt

This wallet-friendly meat cut is as good as braising gets.

October 17, 2018
Photo by Linda Xiao

I was raised Jewish, which meant for most of my life I thought the only meat that anyone ever braised was brisket. My family’s go-to recipe requires, I don’t know, 87 ingredients and yields such a surplus of gravy that if the meat is ever dry—as brisket often is—you drown it accordingly and no one will ever know.

Then I moved to the South and met pork butt. Which, technically, isn’t a butt at all—it’s shoulder; literal pork butt is ham (a fun fact for your next dinner party). Because pork butt is oh-so generously marbled with fat, it’s rich in flavor. It’s also cheap as heck. While brisket averages at $3.64/pound, pork butt is $1.79/pound.

In her cookbook Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, Samin Nosrat calls her braised pork “the single most versatile recipe in this book.” Similarly, in Ten Dollar Dinners by Melissa d’Arabian, she writes: “Pork shoulder is incredibly versatile and a great flavor base for a lot of dinner options.”

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And a lot of dinners, period. Braise pork butt for a Sunday supper, then freeze the leftovers—and unless you’re hosting a Genus instant dinner party, there will be leftovers—for another dinner (or two) down the road.

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Top Comment:
“Pork shoulder is really inexpensive here in southeastern Virginia since we're very near pork processing. I lived in Colorado for a number of years and learned these other recipes. They get served with either tortillas or cornbread at my place, probably not classic, but tasty.”
— Winifred R.
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In her book, d’Arabian lists a slew of ways to put ’em to good use, like tacos, BBQ-sauced sandwiches, chili, burritos, and turnovers. Some of my favorites: mac and cheese, grilled cheese, really anything with cheese, makeshift meat sauce (add marinara, ta-da), rice bowls, and ramen.

All of which to say, braise pork butt now, pat yourself on the back—or should I say shoulder?—later. Here are six recipes to get you started:


See? It Really Is This Easy

What’s your favorite way to repurpose braised meat leftovers? Tell us in the comments!

13 Comments

Eric B. October 31, 2018
Carnitas!
 
lora R. October 23, 2018
Can't wait to start making some of these recipes! My order of porcelet from D'Artagnan will be here today, so - Yum, yum -- Pig's bum!
 
Winifred R. October 21, 2018
Also makes great green chili or posole. For green chili cook the pork cut in chunks, browned first, with roasted poblanos (add a jalapeno or two for more heat as desired) and some chopped onions. If desired add some freshly ground cumin and coriander seed. Add chicken broth for liquid if you want more flavor than just water and don't have any pork broth. Fresh cilantro on the top for serving is great. Posole is similar, but has a bit less green chili (just a couple roasted poblanos), more stock/water, you can add a potato or two, and add posole -- hominy -- as the pork is cooked. Serve with radishes and cilantro for crunch and freshness. Pork shoulder is really inexpensive here in southeastern Virginia since we're very near pork processing. I lived in Colorado for a number of years and learned these other recipes. They get served with either tortillas or cornbread at my place, probably not classic, but tasty.
 
Deedledum October 19, 2018
following<br />
 
HalfPint October 18, 2018
Vietnamese spring rolls<br /><br />
 
HalfPint October 18, 2018
Or summer rolls. I tend to get those 2 mixed up alot. Though both would be delicious too.
 
isw October 18, 2018
Pulled pork sandwiches without cole slaw????? Sacrilege, where I grew up.
 
Author Comment
Emma L. October 18, 2018
Ha! Yeah, that recipe is part of our Big Little Recipes column, where I develop big-flavored recipes in as few ingredients as possible. Adding coleslaw is highly encouraged :)
 
SarahBunny October 17, 2018
Perfect timing! I just ordered a wild boar shoulder from D'Artagnan and am salivating at all the possibilities.
 
Author Comment
Emma L. October 18, 2018
Yum!
 
cyanpineapple October 17, 2018
Lord. I've never seen brisket under $7 or pork butt under $2. That said, we eat a lot of pork butt. My absolute favorite dinner for a crowd is the Momofuku bo ssam recipe.
 
Alexa M. October 17, 2018
I made the Pork Shoulder ragu last year for my girlfriend and she Still talks about it regularly!
 
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Emma L. October 17, 2018
Aw! Your girlfriend is a lucky lady.