Anatomy of a Boston Butt

Post Boston Butt

Disrupt a Pork as in Competition

If we are talking about traditional barbecue preparations, those that are the subject of a competition, and if you love competitive barbecue, you can not do anything but love all of the four categories involved. Brisket is often seen as the most hard, but the truth is that each one is difficult in its own way: every raw material has its own peculiarities and critical factors that you must learn to know and tamper with. Despite this, I confess that I find that a category is more intriguing than the others. I’m talking about Pork and his prince cut, the Boston Butt.

One might say that the reason is that Pork is the category in which this year we got the best results, including a Perfect Score, the first in Italy, but there is actually a lot more: the Boston Butt is a very special cut that combines very different anatomical parts of the pig, a beautiful and fun challenge that puts the technical skills of the griller to the test. As a matter of fact, rules say the Boston Butt is not the only acceptable cut but it is anyway the most used by everyone. The reason for both of these things is that the Boston Butt includes two distinct anatomical areas: a neck and a shoulder portion that combines the best results in terms of taste and moisture. The bad news is that in order to get a Boston Butt we need to cut off the net articulation, very different from what is happening in Italy, where the ham tradition is very rooted and where it is being cut off by turning it around it. In other words, anyone in Italy may want to cut a Boston Butt will have to do it from the whole half of the pig. Small butchers working predominantly with semi-finished products will not be fooled by the idea.

Boston Butt americano
Taglio Americano (fonte: smithfield.com)

Taglio Italiano
Taglio Italiano (fonte: levoni.it)

Once we get our Boston Butt, we start to have fun: you should have a rectangle of weight of about 4-6 kg in front of you, divided longitudinally by the presence of the animal’s scapula, a triangular bone with a top apex, clearly visible on one side.

Box Boston ButtA KCBS box of the Pork category can generally come in 4 distinct parts, each with different characteristics and that should be with different consistencies but taken from the same cut (hence the griller’s excellence):

  • The Chunks, whose purpose is to prove that they have obtained a beautiful bark and the right texture, colorful and crunchy but not burnt. Uniform cubes are presented coarse, better if by hands.
  • The Money Muscle, in essence a “cigar” of meat that must have a nice exterior bark but also a mild consistency but without pulling. It is presented by thick slices overlapped. It’s called Money Muscles because it seems to be an essential part for getting a prize in competition.
  • The pulled part, coming from the remaining parts which clearly have at the same time to exceed the pulling temperature and must be juicy, but very tasty and flavorful.
  • a fourth part exists, the Tubes, small meat rolls that lie right in the middle of the meat which instead will have to pull and therefore are the hardest to get.

If the presentation in this manner of the Boston Butt is very effective in the competition, I have never understood why it should be precluded in home cooking, where instead it tends to make a single mega-pulling of everything, to pitch in a sandwich with a little ‘Coleslaw and that’s it. Imagine, however, a beautiful presentation of the separate and distinct parts presented in a serving dish. Would not it help in making the Boston Butt a more elegant dish, well suited to refined dinners, compared to the usual Chappy vomit?

Post Boston Butt RadiografiaLet’s have confidence with it. Place the Boston Butt with the visible bone on the right side. Imagine the shape of the bone inside the meat. Exactly on the opposite side you should see a kind of ring-plated cylinder: it’s the Money Muscle, which begins with a certain thickness at one end of the side, and then thinner moves to the other. You can not see them, but exactly below the thinner end, in the middle of the pulp and parallel to the Money Muscle, the Tubes are located. Place the Boston Butt cooking with the fat side down. If you would cut it off at this time, you’ll see the scapula form a sort of “Y”. One of the two “Y” summits, which constitutes the continuation of the base, marks the two parts that will have the largest exposed surface of the bark, which will take more taste from the bone and will therefore be the most suitable for obtaining the chunks.

Sezione Boston Butt
Credits: howtobbqright.com

Tubes Boston Butt
Credits: thespruce.com

Now it’s up to you to do some experience to get the most out of each part and at the same time. I leave you with the only great rule to follow when you cook the Boston Butt in a competition:

Start with the intention to deliver all four cuts in the box. When cooking has done, realize what is worth presenting and what does not. In the worst case, if nothing worked out, serve it all as pulled meat and you will not lose anything.

Was I able to make you desire to present the Boston Butt as if you were in a competition?

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