Boston butt pork roast goes by several names: pork shoulder butt, pork shoulder butt roast, Boston Butt, Boston blade roast, Boston style shoulder, bone-in or boneless blade roast, blade end butt, and the list goes on.
You may be tempted to choose the picnic shoulder over the Boston butt because the picnic is cheaper. However, the Boston butt roast is a better choice - hands down. Here's why:
First of all, the Boston butt is a superior cut. It has more marbling (aka fat). Intramuscular fat is good and the Boston butt has a generous amount which gives it lots of flavor and moisture.
The picnic shoulder is a tougher cut of meat and has a thick layer of skin which prevents your seasonings and smoke flavor from reaching the meat. So more prep work is required to prepare a picnic shoulder for cooking.
(See my pork cuts chart for more information on these two cuts).
Secondly, you can do more with a Boston butt roast. Of course, it makes excellent pulled pork -- some say the best when compared to a picnic shoulder. That, I believe, is a matter of preference. However, the Boston butt makes an excellent dinner roast for slicing and serving sans BBQ sauce. I love the versatility.
Below you'll find a basic but delicious recipe for sliced Boston butt pork roast. Notice again I said "sliced" roast. This is not the same as pulled pork. The difference is the target temperature of the meat.
For pulled-pork, you want your butt roast to reach an internal temperature of 190°F to 195°F. This will make the meat "fall off the bone" tender so that it easily pulls apart for sandwiches.
However, at 180°F to 185°F, the roast will still be super moist and tender yet the consistency of the meat holds-up well enough for slicing - just perfect for a pork roast dinner with baked or creamy mashed potatoes and veggies.
To determine the internal temperature of your roast, you will obviously need a meat thermometer. I use and highly recommend the Maverick ET732 Wireless BBQ Thermometer Set. It's two thermometers in one -- one probe goes into your meat and other into your grill or oven. But it also has a remote thermometer.
In the photo to the right I was in the house watching the game with the ET732 remote thermometer next to me. I didn't need to constantly go outside to check the meat or my coals. The remote unit even beeped when the temperatures went above or below my settings. It takes the guess work out of barbecuing. I love this thing!
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 7 hours 30 min
Total Time: 8 hours 30 min
Apple/Hickory Wood (at least 4 chunks of each)
Charcoal - 1 large bag
Boston butt with fat cap removed and being injected with marinade
Boston butt in the smoker with temperature probe and spare ribs
I made the Boston butt below for a UCLA tailgate party with my job. I was a little pressed for time, though. I smoked the meat at approximately 235°F for 4.5 hours. Then I wrapped it in foil and put it in the oven at 300°F for 1.5 hours. Straight from the oven I wrapped the roast (while still in the foil) in a large towel and placed it in a cooler and headed to the Rose Bowl.
Before leaving the house, the meat reached about 170°F. So the carry-over heat got it to at least 175°F. When I took the roast from the cooler at the tailgate party, which was 2 hours after removing it from the oven, it was STILL too hot to hold in my hand! I made ribs too, which was more than enough food.
So I put my Boston butt pork roast back in the cooler and brought it home for a family dinner later that evening. It sliced like heaven and ate even better.
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