A Great Butt In Your Own Kitchen
—A recipe and a few explanations with no apologies for being cheeky.
Thanks to the cut’s name, I’ve had several questions and a few teases about “pork butt”. It’s actually part of the shoulder, i.e., the front leg. The entire piece can be described as the shoulder. The upper part, near the blade—flat bone—is called the butt, and the lower part, around the shank —round bone—is the shoulder. The cut is also called Boston butt. Why a pork cut sounds like the derriere of a Patriots fan, I don’t know. Why not Green Bay butt? At least that football team's name originates from a bunch of burly meat cutters.
The term butt goes back to Middle English, where it refers to the broadest part of something, such as the butt end of a log (the flare near the ground) and later, the butt stock of a rifle (the wide part that you place in your shoulder. ). Hence the term later became slang for the widest part of some people (often in front of me at the Farm & Fleet checkout. See reference to Green Bay butt).
This recipe for pork stew with fennel, orange, and olives comes from "vvvanessa" on Food 52. I substituted pork butt—which you can do with almost any pork shoulder recipe (at least I haven't found one yet that doesn't work).
Start by cutting the meat into 1" cubes. If possible, take a cue from the woodworking world and make your lengthwise cuts first and then cut those pieces into smaller chunks. It saves you knife (or saw) strokes.
A few notes:
The author serves it over polenta. I served it over rice. I would have preferred polenta, but I hadn’t ground any of my corn into meal yet (I don't hand-harvest heirloom varieties of open-pollinated corn just to feed it to hogs. I finally ground some a few days after making this recipe. Wonderful smell and flavor in the cornbread, but that's another post.)
I left out the celery and bay leaf because I didn't have them on hand. I used extra fennel, which I prefer to celery. Can't say I missed the bay leaf. Never have. If anyone can show me a recipe that is definitively changed by the token bay leaf, I'll give you a free pork shoulder or butt.
I cooked the stew as low as I could for 90 minutes, turned it off, went to pick up the kids, ran errands, yadda-yadda and then reheated it 90 minutes later. I swear that the rest-and-reheat period makes a difference.
I don’t have any pics of the completed recipe. When the kids are hungry and Sarah may or may not be home from work yet, “I should get my camera” isn’t in the front of my mind. It's dinner on the table and soon gone. If you want to know how good it looks and tastes, get some good pork butt (let's just say I know a source) and try it for yourself.
(And you too can brag about having the best butt in your kitchen).
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Former Marine Infantry Officer. Iraq Vet. Interested in Regenerative Agriculture at any scale.
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