"Dad, lookit!" my daughter alerted me as we scanned the meat section for something compelling to prepare for dinner. Siobhan and I were picking up a few things at our neighborhood supermarket, when a questionable word was discovered printed on a meat package. I was flipping through packages of chuck roast like a red meat Rolodex, looking for a super-marbled piece as BabyGirl ran her finger over ridged slabs of back ribs in the Pork section.
"Dad," she whispered, "it says 'Butt', seriously, lookit!" Siobhan, eyebrows raised and smirking, looked as if a rude joke was being played and had slipped pass the meat department's packaging censors. Lips curled in, she stiffled a belly laugh and giggled while holding her breath, letting it go in muffled bursts.
"See?!" she pointed while spelling out, B-U-T-T, "why would anyone eat a pig's butt?!"
We giggled and re-spelled the word, saying aloud, "BUTT!"
It took a few seconds for me to leave the 4th grade and resume Dad composure, informing Siobhan that it actually is a 'meat term' for a pork shoulder.
"Baby, it's called a 'Butt Roast' and don't ask why. It musta been a long time ago before the word 'butt' became another term for your 'nalgas.' "
"Ya know, like these cheeks," my index finger pointed to puffed cheeks in my face, "and those cheeks," sticking my rear end out.
"Da-aaa-duhh, stop! That's embarrassing...!" she admonished me while slapping my hand and quickly glancing to ensure we were not being watched. Weeks shy of 10 years old, embarrassment is becoming a nearly fatal, female emotion.
The lesson began with why I like shoulder cuts of meat. They have great fat content which makes it juicy, it feels 'round' in your mouth and kinda coats it. When you slow-cook a shoulder in the smoker or oven, alot of the fat melts away, leaving a perfect balance of protein and flavor. I pointed to the ivory hued fat cap that will be trimmed a little and the white lines in the flesh. All that will baste the meat, just like the turkey at Thanksgiving, I explained. This is what we use for the pulled pork sandwiches and the same cut I use for sausages, I concluded.
"Let's get one and do something with it," I suggested, "pick one out, baby."
She looked, pretending to exercise discriminating selection, finally returning to the one she first touched. I picked it up and concurred it would do just fine.
Bonnie-belle looked up to me with a guilty grin and an Irish twinkle in her eye. With excruciatingly perfect timing, she said,
"Nice Butt, Dad!"
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
1 Pork Butt roast, boneless, about 7 lbs
4T Kosher salt
2T Black Pepper, ground
1T Cayenne, ground
1T Smoked Spanish Paprika
1T Coriander, ground
1t Allspice, ground
1t Ginger, ground (my mouth is watering already!)
Place the shoulder/butt on a sturdy sheet pan with 1/2 inch sides and set aside. The butt seems to be split in two with the bone removed. No joke.
Measure all spices and combine in a bowl, whisking gently to blend thoroughly. Place the spices in a shaker of sorts, sprinkling the exterior and interior of the meat till all spices have been used up. DON'T use you hands to rub the spices in! What happens is that your hands get wet, the spice blend sticks to them and you lose alot of seasoning because you now have red, salty goop on your hands. Use a shaker to apply all your spices on the meat.
Next, place the seasoned meat in a pre-heated, 200 degree oven (no fan), preferably at 9:00 or 10:00 p.m.
Kiss the handle of the oven door good night and crawl into bed with a good book.
When the chickens start to fuss in the morning ( 6 or 7 a.m.), the pork should be done AND the house will smell like a rib joint. A long, thin knife should pass through with ease. The pork should have a bit of a crust on it, but, don't despair, as the interior is super moist and tender.
Remove from the oven with caution. There will be rendered fat on the bottom of the sheet pan, so, be careful not to spill-zy. Let cool for 30 minutes. For best results, move the pork to a large mixing bowl and begin shredding with two forks, one in each hand. Place some shreds on a piece of bread for the first person fortunate enough to witness your creation; squeeze bottle of BBQ sauce providing some extra luvin'. Once completely cooled, place the meat in Sharpie labeled and dated, 1 qt. freezer bags for later use. Frozen, this will keep for months and be a great 'dinner to the rescue' meal.
I wish you the best in this very do-able venture. Add condiments at meal time to make it a Cuban, Mexican, Asian or just good 'ol BBQ dish.
Take Care, God Bless and Remember,
"Food, Faith, Family and Friends,
the Best Things in Life Aren't Things!"