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Pig Lexicon

 

 

Most cooks and judges refer to the cut used in the Pork Shoulder category as “pork butt” or simply “pork.” In the lexicon of American butchery, pork shoulder is used interchangeably with Boston butt or pork butt.

This cut should not to be confused with the pork shoulder roast or pork picnic roast, which is also cut from the front shoulder but below the joint and above the shank (or leg).

“Butt” is derived from the Old English term for a specific type of barrel or wine cask used to store and ship cut hogs. In this archaic unit of measure, a butt is a large barrel equivalent to two hogsheads, yet another size of barrel.

A butt, also called a pipe, holds about 126 gallons (or 1-1/2 firkins if you’re across the pond).

In colonial America, the choicer cuts coming from the top parts of the animal such as the ham and loin were usually consumed locally, thus the saying “high on the hog.” Lesser cuts were preserved, packed into barrels (butts), and shipped around the colonies or back to England and used in sausage.

 

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