25 Ways to Use Pork Butt

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Football season means one thing to me: pork butt, aka Boston butt, aka pork shoulder, cooked and served in every way, shape and form. Pork butt can be fatty with lots of connective tissues, making it the preferred cut for low and slow cooking. I prefer to buy bone-in pork shoulder unless I’ll be grinding or cubing up my meat for sausages or stews. And if you want to make sausage but have no meat grinder, ask your butcher to give you a hand and run the meat through the grinder.

Pulled pork is a delicious tailgating standby; you can’t go wrong with slow-roasted meat so tender that it falls apart with two forks, lightly drenched in some tangy-sweet BBQ sauce. And while I’m sure your go-to recipe is the best and that everyone always requests it, why not branch out a little and show that pork butt some love? Here’s the nudge you need to switch up your tailgating favorites.

  1. Have smoker, will travel? Brine your butt (yes, I went there) in molasses before smoking with Alton Brown’s Barbecue Pork Butt recipe. Keep the smoker going for MO Gridder’s BBQ Pork Butt sandwich or coat the pork in mustard and a dry rub for Smoked Boston Pork Butt.
  2. Throwback to the 25 Ways to Use Beer post with Beer Braised BBQ Pork Butt (pictured above).
  3. Use a piece of boneless pork shoulder and store-bought kimchi for Korean comfort food at home: Kimchi Stew with Braised Pork.
  4. Brian Boitano serves his Braised Hawaiian Pork Shoulder with Mashed Parsnips and Celery Root — Pho Poi.
  5. Equally delicious served hot or at room temp, single-serving Pork Pies are a great (and filling) portable lunch option.
  6. Pork shoulder means homemade sausage, whether it’s Emeril’s Creole Boudin Sausage, Michael Symon’s Pork and Garlic Sausage Braised in Beer.
  7. Grind up a big batch of Alton’s Breakfast Sausages; freeze them for up to 3 months and you’re set for easy weekday breakfasts.
  8. If you don’t have a smoker, indirect heat on a grill is a great substitute for slow-cooked barbecue, like Carolina-Style Pulled Pork or Oklahoma Joe’s Pulled Pork.
  9. Use some of the leftovers from Aaron McCargo Jr.’s Simple Roasted Pork Shoulder Recipe to make the classic Cuban sandwich, Medianoche (Ham, Roasted Pork, and Swiss Cheese Sandwich on Sweet Bread), or Emeril’s Spicy Pork Pinwheels.
  10. Pernil is a popular holiday dish in Puerto Rico, but you can enjoy tender pork shoulder with crispy skin all year-round.
  11. The meat for Souvlaki — Small Skewers of Pork is marinated overnight in a combination of red wine vinegar, olive oil, thyme, oregano and garlic. Grill and wrap in a pita served with roasted veggies for a complete meal idea.
  12. Tyler Florence recommends cooking the Slow Grilled Ancho Rubbed Pork low and slow while using the drippings as a marinade.
  13. Rainy fall days are perfect for homemade pasta like spaghetti with meat sauce.
  14. A simple Caribbean-inspired meal: Ginger Pot Roast with Quinoa Salad and Ginger Pineapple Compote. Ginger beer is ginger ale’s more flavorful and spicier older sister, and can be found in some supermarkets or Caribbean specialty markets.
  15. If your taco night needs a tune-up, try out Roasted Pork Tacos with Green Mole Sauce and a Cinnamon and Apple Relish, Thai Pork Tacos or Braised Pork Tacos.
  16. Rachael Ray’s Roast Pork Shoulder Sandwiches with Fennel Slaw are a twist on the usual Sunday pulled pork sandwich for watching the big game.
  17. It doesn’t get much more football than Memphis-style Pulled Pork BBQ Pizza.
  18. Slow-Cooker Coconut Braised Pork requires little prep, but delivers big flavor thanks to the miracle worker known as fish sauce.
  19. The Meatball Shop in NYC knows meatballs. So when they say to use white bread instead of breadcrumbs to make a lighter meatball, you do it. And then you enjoy the deliciousness that is Spicy Pork Meatballs, either served in a marinara sauce topped with grated Parmesan or on a long roll topped with marinara sauce and some sliced provolone.
  20. Banh-Mi Sliders with a Tarragon Aioli scream “Go team!” at the TV screen with some class.
  21. How do you improve the already amazing burrito? Fry it. Although the origin of chimichangas is murky, we’re all grateful for the day burritos started being deep-fried and placed on plates in front of our faces.
  22. Use a food processor instead of a meat grinder for Pork-Fennel Burgers, being careful not to overprocess the meat.
  23. Barbecue’s answer to the sweet and savory delight that is chicken and waffles: Sriracha Glazed Pork Stuffed French Toast.
  24. Rachael Ray’s Savory and Sweet Pork Stew with Ancho Chiles is a great make-ahead meal. Cook it the night before or over the weekend and heat up for a quick meal when you’re short on time.
  25. Here’s a Korean take on Pork Ramen that is warm, comforting and all but guarantees to mend whatever ails you after a night of celebrating the big win.

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Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne


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