A pork butt, also known as a pork shoulder or Boston butt, is a cut that tastes especially good when cooked slowly at a fairly low temperature. This is because it is a tough cut of meat that should be cooked until it flakes apart into pulled pork. Although you technically can cook smaller pieces, the whole pork butt will taste best.
Large vs. Small
A whole pork butt is usually about 6 to 8 lbs. The pork takes about 80 minutes per pound when cooked at 225 F, which means that it requires 8 to 11 hours of cooking. If you cook 1 lb. pieces for about an hour, they would be done. Unfortunately, the smaller pieces dry out quickly and will not be as tender and juicy as one large pork butt. Therefore, if at all possible, keep your pork butt in one large piece. If you absolutely need to cook small pieces, cook them in liquid to help keep the meat from getting too dry.
The best way to cook a whole pork butt is to use the slow cooker. It takes about 2 hours on low per pound of meat, so you can start it the night before if you have a large pork butt or in the morning with a smaller one. This hands-off cooking method gives you the advantage of slow cooking in one large piece without you having to be at home the whole time. Add boiling water, chopped onions and carrots to the slow cooker to help flavor the pork and keep it from drying out.
The classic use for pulled pork is to slather it in barbecue sauce and serve it on buns as pulled pork sandwiches. If you do this, serve vegetable side dishes, such as a tossed salad with light creamy dressing or steamed fresh vegetables, to complete the meal. For a more formal dinner, serve pulled pork seasoned with herbs alongside mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. Kids generally love the melt-in-your-mouth quality of pulled pork, so they will probably happily eat it however you serve it.
Unless you have a very large family or have lots of guests over for dinner, you will end up with leftover pulled pork. Luckily, the meat freezes well and makes an easy starting point for a meal using the leftovers. One idea is to make pulled pork tacos by reheating the pork with Mexican seasonings, such as cumin, chili powder and oregano. Let family members build tacos with their favorite toppings, which can include lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, cheese and chunks of mango or pineapple. For an easy pasta dish, mix leftover pulled pork into a creamy sauce and serve the pork pasta alongside cooked vegetables.
- "Joy of Cooking"; Irma S. Rombauer; 2006
- Food Network; BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches; Robert Irvine; 2006