bookmark_borderPork Butt vs Pork Shoulder

At first glance, you may say that the argument concerning pork butt vs pork shoulder is not worth discussing for both terms are basically synonymous. Well, this reaction is pretty much understandable, considering that many people erroneously think that both terms refer to the same thing. Yet, this idea, however, of both being synonymous is also not totally right. Pork butt and pork shoulder may seem synonymous, but it is more proper to say that they are somewhat similar.

The pork butt and the pork shoulder are derived from the same part of the pig. They appear to be of the same cuts. Thus, more often, many people mistake them to be synonymous with each other. Yet, there are significant differences between the two, and these differences are what we are going to discuss later.

Pork Butt and Pork Shoulder: What’s the Difference?

The main differences between pork shoulder and pork butt lie in their size, which part of the pig they are derived, their grain fibers, and how they are sold. As mentioned above, both cuts are taken from the upper part of the pig’s foreleg.

The pork butt is labeled “butt” because it comes from the thicker part of the foreleg. The pork shoulder, on the other hand, is labeled “shoulder” because it came from the triangular part of the foreleg which is thinner. Together, these two are what we commonly call the “whole pork shoulder.”

The upper part of the pig’s foreleg performs a lot of works which means that the muscle fibers within this area are tough and well-exercised.

Pork Butt

The pork butt or what we call “Boston Butt” refers to the rectangular cut of meat that you can buy from the meat store. It is characterized as being well-marbled with lots of fat from the top. As you cook the pork butt, its fat readily melts and provides awesome flavor to the meat.

The pork butt comes with many connective tissues and is best tenderized via slow cooking. You can buy the pork butt with its shoulder blade still attached. You should not cut the shoulder blade out for it could surely add flavor to the meat.

Pork Shoulder

The pork shoulder is taken just below the pork butt. It is situated at the foreleg’s top. It is also called “picnic shoulder” and “picnic ham.” But if the hock is not attached to it, it is called “pork shoulder.” You’ll notice that when you buy pork shoulder, it usually comes with the covering skin. Moreover, it is shaped like a triangle.

The pork shoulder is not expensive. It is derived from the part of the pig that is well-exercised and as such, it comes with rich flavor. However, it doesn’t have much fat marbling. Moreover, if you don’t cook it properly, you would end up rendering the meat very tough.

How to Cook Pork Shoulder?

The best way to cook pork shoulder is to subject it to a slow cooking process to tenderize it and eventually melt its fat. It is best cooked by stewing or braising. Yet, you can also bake or fry it. It is also nice to slice it before serving it. Additionally, in Asian cuisines, ground pork shoulder is usually added to meatloaf and meatballs for added flavor.

If you don’t want the extra crackling of the skin when you cook it, you can readily trim the skin off. If you want to cook it as a whole cut, you can thaw it for 30 minutes before cooking. You can then cook it slow using a slow cooker or an oven. It is also advisable to cook it at 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

The older instructions, of course, said that you need to cook it at 160 degrees Fahrenheit, though this was altered by the USDA in 2011. You should also allow the meat at least 3 minutes outside the oven before you slice it.

Final Words

Let’s finally address the shoulder vs pork butt dilemma. We could say that both are from the same part of the pig. Pork shoulder, however, appears better when cooked whole, and when sliced before served. On the other hand, pork butt is best for other recipes and making pulled pork wherein its meat falls apart. Lastly, both are really great cuts and could be used interchangeably.

bookmark_borderHow to Use an Offset Charcoal Smoker?

If you want to take your cooking flavor to another level, you should use an offset smoker. but what is an offset smoker? Well, there are basically two types of smokers based on design. The first is the vertical smoker and the other one is the horizontal type of smoker of which the offset smoker belongs. How to use an offset charcoal smoker, however, is the subject matter of this article.

How to Use an Offset Charcoal Smoker

How Does the Offset Charcoal Smoker Work?

The use of offset charcoal smoker is different from that of the electric and gas-powered grillers or smokers. The reason for this is that there are several things that you need to know before you can perfectly cook food using the offset smoker. Moreover, this type of smoker is the most difficult to master. The trick, however, behind the mastery of the offset charcoal grills smoker is in how well you regulate the temperature of the cooking chamber.

The best offset smokers have that typical design of two chambers. One chamber, which is the larger chamber, is called the cooking chamber. The smaller chamber is the firebox where the fire is set. The heat and smoke from the firebox flow toward the cooking chamber, and slowly cook the food. However, the temperature within the cooking chamber fluctuates. Moreover, the temperatures across the cooking chamber’s area are not the same. Thus, keeping the temperature at a desirable constant requires vigilance on the user’s part.

Steps on Using the Offset Charcoal Smoker

Once you have the meat all set for smoking, you should then prepare the offset smoker for use. The following are the simple steps that you need to follow:

Set the Fire in the Firebox!

The use of charcoal is the best method of firing up the offset smoker. Once the coals heat up and burn, you can then add wood or log. You can also use the chimney starter. The use of chimney starter is quick and easy. It is a cylindrical metal with a grate at the bottom or near the bottom along with many air vents on its sides. With its use, you will be ready to cook in less than 15 minutes.

Once the charcoals are already burning, you can dump them onto the firebox. You should dump them on the far side of the firebox so that you don’t need to reach out frequently when tending the fire. Then, you should place two pieces of logs onto the firebox near the burning charcoal but not on top of the charcoal to dry out the logs.

Once dried out, you can then place the logs on top of the charcoal. Wait then for the temperature to come up. Then, place another standby log onto the firebox to dry it out. Every time you put a dried-out log onto the charcoal, make sure that you have another log on the standby. Just keep the vents and the door of the firebox open while you wait for the temperature to come up.

Keep the Temperature Regulated!

The most difficult aspect of using offset smoker is the regulation of the heat. The cooking chamber needs to be kept at the ideal temperature. If you only want to do hot smoking, you should keep the temperature of the cooking chamber between 126 to 176 °F. But if you want to do some smoke roasting, you need to keep the temperature of the chamber at 250 °F and above.

To get the temperature right, you need to have a reliable thermometer that could give you the exact temperature of each part of the cooking chamber. Probe the temperature at the grate level. Keep the vent of the firebox about 1/3 open. Adjust the vents as needed. There are some factors too that may affect the cooking chamber’s temperature such as the wind, temperature of the outside, and other factors. You should also check the smoke because it may be indicative of what is happening inside the firebox and the cooking chamber.

If the temperature of the cooking chamber goes down, add another dried-up log to the firebox. Lastly, don’t make huge adjustments of the vents at a time. How to use an offset charcoal smoker is easy as long as you know the important tips and steps on how to go about in using it.