October 21, 2014

The pork shoulder has whatever a grill or smoke master can wish for. Heft. Flavor. Affordability. And remarkable ease of preparation. Although a entirety pork shoulder tips the range at 14 come 18 pounds and a Boston butt (the top fifty percent of the shoulder—the reduced most typically sold at the supermarket) at 5 to 7 pounds, this big hunk ’o meat always comes the end tender. And also that’s true even if it is you smoke, indirect grill, or spit-roast it—methods frequently used through hog-o-holics approximately Planet Barbecue.

But not all pork shoulders room equal, and also to obtain the best bang because that the buck, you must know around anatomy, animal husbandry, seasoning and also grilling techniques and also gear. We’ll cover every those subject in this three-part series.

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1. Pork need to taste choose pork:

Hogs used to it is in bred for flavor. Today, many supermarket pork is an industrial product elevated for maximum development in minimum time therefore it have the right to be sold quickly and cheaply. Even odder, the mean hog today has 31 percent less fat than it would certainly have twenty years ago. And also we all understand that that fat dead flavor. So what’s a ’cue fanatic to do? Well, very first of all, once buying pork, choose the ideal marbled piece you have the right to find. Far better yet, look for a heritage breed (see below), which is bred because that flavor and fat.

2. Purchase pork that’s elevated humanely and with respect:

You, flavor-loving food dude or dudette, don’t want your pork to taste prefer chicken breast. You want it to taste choose pork. Furthermore, you desire your hogs raised humanely and also with respect.

Family farmers have actually heard you: A farming number raise pork the old-fashioned way—mostly outdoors—focusing ~ above heritage breeds (see below). As soon as you buy your meat from your neighborhood butcher or farmers’ market, the seller should have the ability to answer any kind of questions you have about how the meat was raised and also processed.

Meanwhile, if your only information comes from labels ~ above pre-packaged meat, here’s a quick summary of commonly used terms:

Natural: Ideally, a term used to define meat that contains no preventive or fabricated ingredients. Unfortunately, there is no USDA certification for “natural,” so it might simply be a marketing term v no high quality standards to ago it up.

Enhanced: part processors inject pork with a systems containing water, salt, salt phosphates, and also other flavor- and moisture-enhancing chemicals. They have the right to increase the weight of the parcel by as much as 15 percent. (Which increases your cost.) These included ingredients need to be listed on the label. If you’re looking for the smell of brined or injected meat, you’re much better off doing it yourself.

Raised without Antibiotics or Administered Hormones: choose humans, pigs are routinely inoculated to avoid disease. The case “without antibiotics” could look great on the label, yet it is not something the USDA currently monitors. As for hormones, their use is not allowed by legislation in the raising of pigs, for this reason the case is essentially meaningless.

USDA Organic: This brand certifies that the pets were increased without antibiotics on 100 percent necessary feed and also that castle had accessibility to the outdoors.

Grass-Fed: Warrants the pigs to be raised entirely on pastured grass and not fattened on grains (the last being the diet of an option on established feed lots).

Certified Humane: This phrase indicates the pig was raised without antibiotics on an approved diet (not have to organic) and also with enough space to carry out “natural behaviors.” Compliance is monitored by one independent—not governmental—organization.

Free-Range: Currently, the USDA only certifies free-range poultry. Over there are various other independent organizations, however, that monitor animals’ well-being. Look, for example, because that the state “Animal Welfare Approved,” “Certified Humane,” or “Food Alliance Certified.”


3. Respect for heritage:

Often referred to by the Japanese name, kurobuta (“black pig” literally), the Berkshire is the crown prince the hogs, v generously marbled, dark-pink, rich-tasting meat that makes supermarket pork it seems to be ~ downright bland. (Think that it together the Kobe beef that pork.)

Below space other instances of heritage breeds, each with its own distinctive texture and also flavor. Look for them in ~ specialty butcher shops and farmers’ markets. Among the trailblazers in the campaign to conserve heritage each other is the slow-moving Food offshoot, Heritage foodstuffs USA. On their website, they even sell pork shoulder samplers for this reason you can compare the differences in between breeds.

Red Wattle: initially from new Caledonia in the south Pacific, this breed gets its name from its jowly appearance and rusty red color. Prized because that its ham and also beefy-tasting meat.

Mangalitsa: This Hungarian transplant is the antithesis of “the other white meat.” extremely well-marbled, tender, flavorful meat and high-quality lard.

Tamworth: explained as “robust and gutsy” through Heritage foods USA—in other words, porky. Due to the fact that it’s naturally leaner than part heritage breeds, it yields terrific bacon.

Duroc: This each other is specifically prized for its shoulder meat and its spareribs. The meat is a dark red pink color with great intramuscular marbling (read “juicy”) and also high pH, meaning it retains much more moisture during processing, storage, and cooking. Milder tasting than part heritage breeds.

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4. Pick the appropriate cut:

A whole pork shoulder extends from the bottom of the front leg to the optimal of the shoulder, not included the trotters (feet). Advertising smokehouses buy and also cook the whole shoulder, yet at the sleeve level, you’re much more likely to find the height or bottom ar of the shoulder.

Boston butt (also known as pork shoulder butt) refers to the optimal of the shoulder, a gorgeous hunk the protein with tender meat and generous marbling through a blade bone to run through component of it. If you happen to live in St. Louis, this is the section from i beg your pardon pork steaks (also called blade steaks) are cut.

Shoulder ham (also recognized as a picnic ham) refers to the bottom of the shoulder, including the peak of the foreleg. The is not fairly as well-marbled together the pork shoulder butt, but responds well to low and slow cooking.

5. Buy sufficient for leftovers:

“Cook once, eat twice.” Words come live by for all of us. The lot of pork come buy come ensure there’s sufficient left for a second meal depends on a variety of factors, that course. Just how many human being do you intended to feed and how would you gauge their appetites (big eaters, men, women, children)? will you it is in serving next dishes with the pork? Or buns? because that pulled pork, the standard preeminence of ignorance is one-third come one-half pound of meat every person. When cooked and also shredded, a bone-in pork shoulder will certainly lose approximately 40 percent of its weight. For example, a life 10-pound pork shoulder (or two 5-pounders) will certainly yield around 6 pounds of perfect meat, offer 12 to 18 people.

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