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How to Trim a Pork Butt for Barbecue

Learn how to trim a pork butt from Pork Barrel BBQ pitmasters Heath Hall and Brett Thompson in this Howcast video.


Today I'm going to show you how to trim a pork butt. The pork butt does not come from the butt of the pig. It comes from the shoulder, the top part of the shoulder. You've got the Boston butt. And then you have the picnic, which is probably another piece that you've seen at your grocery store.

If you were a competition barbeque team, you'd be prizing this piece here. This is the front muscle, also known as the money muscle. Why is it known as the money muscle? If you cook it right, supposedly the money will be coming your way at a contest. It's also some of the best tasting meat. You definitely want to take good care of that.

You'll see a bone in here. If you cook this right, whenever you take it off of the smoker, you're going to be able to just pull that bone right off and no meat or anything except bone is going to come out. It's a really simple piece to trim. There's not a lot to do. You want to look for any kind of loose hanging pieces of fat. There's a little piece here. Nothing real big.

Flip it over. One thing you want to look for in some of these you're going to see the veins and some blood. If you see that, you definitely want to get that cut out of there because you don't want that in your finished product.

I'm going to trim off a little bit of this fat here on the underside of the front muscle. I like to expose the meat as much as I can so that the spice rub you put on is really going to penetrate into it and in the smoke as well.

One other trick, if you want to get some more exposure in through the meat is to take a sharp knife, and this is the fat cap, come right underneath the fat cap. Go in about to here. You're going about almost about 85-90 percent of the way. Just cut straight over. That's going to leave you a nice pocket in here. You can take your spice rub and a little bit of oil and put in there. That spice rub then will be able to penetrate down.

You want to keep the fat cap on. When you're cooking that fat will continue to render into the meat and really provide a rich, deep flavor. That's really all there is to trimming a pork butt. It's a real simple piece. It takes probably about eight to ten hours on your smoker at about 225-250 degrees. It's an affordable piece of meat that's going to feed a lot of people. There's really not much better than a good pulled pork sandwich.

Next time you're at the store and see one, I'd encourage you to pick it up and give it a try. Don't let the size of it discourage you. It's really not that difficult of a cut to cook once you get the hang of it. Give it a try. Give the pork butt a try.

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