Pork Blade Shoulder Cuts


     Pork Shoulder ‘Boston’ Blade Roast.

        It is likely, especially in many American markets, that you will know this cut as a Pork ‘Boston Butt’ Roast.  It is probably not unreasonable to declare that meat from the pork shoulder area is consumed as often as cuts from any other pork section, owing largely to the fact that shoulder meat is barbecue meat!  For many, dedication to pork barbecue is the nearest thing to religion!  If you’ve ever spent time in the great cities of St. Louis, Memphis and a select few others, you likely know just what I mean.  From the humble shoulder of such a common animal comes the meat that has made ‘barbecue’ a household name in just about any language!

The pork Shoulder Blade Roast is produced from – you guessed it – the shoulder blade section of the animal (see chart at top of page).  If you are familiar with the look of this roast, imagine it being connected to the pork shoulder ‘picnic ‘ roast (see image at left).  If still connected, this would be the larger piece, known as the whole pork shoulder, that is separated to create the blade and picnic roasts that have long been supermarket meat shop staples.  There was a time not so long ago when it was still common for supermarket butchers to receive these full pork shoulders for splitting in the store.  There was a dilemma in this, however.. the Boston Blade Roast portion is in much greater demand in many supermarkets than is the shoulder picnic roast.  So what to do after splitting all these pork shoulders if only half of the piece is popular and selling well?!  Well, the popularization of the smoked picnic roast, or picnic ham, took care of all that.  Nowadays supermarket meat shops almost always receive Boston Butt Blade Roasts by themselves – that is, already separated from the ‘picnic’ shoulder.  Picnic roasts likewise are received separately as a smoked product (picnic hams) and are vacuum sealed, a novel invention to increase the ‘shelf life’ (length of time a meat item can stay in a butcher’s meat counter) of an item that may not sell as well or as often as some other items.

Cooking methods for the Pork Shoulder ‘Boston’ Blade Roast vary because it is ‘merchandised’ by supermarket butchers into a variety of popular cuts.  I began this section by writing a little about the incredible and enduring popularity of pork barbecue.  Well, the methods for making it run from simple to rather complex, but as with some other cuts, the key ingredient is time.  It can be dropped into the crock pot (ask your butcher to cut in half in case it may be too large for yours), some water added to it as well your favorite pork-friendly seasonings, and in this manner, it is easy to produce a falling-off-the-bone tender product, to which your favorite barbecue sauce can be added to create a simple but easy & tasty mix for some great barbecue sandwiches.  The bbq fan in your house will be thrilled to find such a mix available just before the ballgame kicks off.. trust me on this one!

*Important!  As with any pork products, I strongly recommend being sure during cooking and before eating,  that the meat reaches an internal temperature – at its thickest area – of at least 145 degrees fahrenheit and does not come below that temperature for a continuous period of at least 15 seconds.  Any juices visible in or around the meat should be clear and never reddish or pink!  These safeguards will ensure that any harmful parasites or bacteria that might have been in the meat have been destroyed.

meatshop101 Shoppers’ Tip:

The Pork Shoulder ‘Boston’ Blade Roast is quite a bit more versatile than it would appear at a glance.  Chances are you’ve more than once enjoyed delicious meat portions by totally different names, and had no idea they were created from this piece.  There are often many ways to slice & dice a humble, simple-looking piece of meat, and a skilled butcher will be well-acquainted with this art of ‘merchandising’.  In any meat shop, the opportunities for profit lie largely in breaking down a given piece of meat into a variety of items for which a higher price is charged. 

So for our present example, I highly recommend keeping a good eye on your favorite supermarket’s newspaper flier for a great sale on these Pork Shoulder ‘Boston Butt’ Blade Roasts, which can create an opportunity to put the following advice to best use.  By the way, it is still common to find these roasts fairly often at a sale price of less than a dollar per pound.  Pick out a nice large piece, and ask your butcher to cut 2 nice steaks (these are called ‘pork steaks’ or ‘blade steaks’) off the ‘front face’ of the piece – these will be a nice addition to the grill at your next cookout.  Ask him also to then take 2 cuts at about 1 and 1/4 inches, lay them flat and split them through their lean middle, creating Country Style Ribs.  Now technically, real country style ribs are cut from the rib end of the pork loin, but many supermarket meat shops merchandise these blade roast cuts under that name.  The good news is that, whatever one chooses to call them, they are simply delicious and will do wonderfully on the grill and in the oven!  Finally, with the remainder of the blade roast, you can ask the butcher to remove any remaining bone, then either portion the remaining lean into stew meat, or grind the rest for some  outstanding meatball material!  Be confident when making these requests of the butcher.. it is a guarantee that this is a part of his job, even if he doesn’t appear bowled over by the idea of doing it.  This is just one idea for having normally more expensive and very useful cuts created for you out of an inexpensive pork roast.  The point is that the Pork Shoulder ‘Boston Butt’ Blade Roast can be a real investment piece for you.. a dandy cut that does a lot more than barbecue!

One thought on “Pork Blade Shoulder Cuts

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