boston butt american dish with shredded meat and veg

This January on the focus is on foods and recipes from America, and the influences from that great melting pot of cultures. As my regular readers will be aware, here at Barbecoa we are best known for our quality dry-aged beef, but let’s start with pork – Boston butt, to be precise. Best known as the cut that is used to make wonderful pulled pork, a Boston butt, as most UK butchers would know, starts life as a neck-end; half of the pigs shoulder. The other half is often called a hand and spring.

Many moons ago, when I started out, neck-ends of pork were cut in a few ways. The whole joint could be boned and the skin scored, and rolled for a succulent roast. Another way was to scoop the blade bone out, with that again being used for a cheapish roasting joint. The remains could then be cut into one inch thick spare rib chops. These are superb slowly roasted with some sliced apples, cider and a hint of sage, or even a spicy tomato sauce. Today, however, it’s all about pulled pork.

So, how do you turn a neck-end into a Boston butt? Firstly the skin needs to be removed – reserve to make scratchings with later. Remember, though, that you do need to leave a thin layer of fat, both to protect the meat from drying out and to add flavour. Next, take out the back or chine bone and then trim the ends so it looks nice and square.

Then comes the exciting part; seasoning the joint. Your options to add flavour are only held back by what you have in the cupboard, or the limits of your imagination. If you’re stuck for an idea or just need some inspiration, check out my good pal DJ BBQ on Food Tube. My Mum just loves his Chunky banana ketchup served on the side, and I always do double when pulled pork is on the menu.

The great thing about this cut is we can cook it in a conventional oven – yes still low and slow, but covered with a bit of foil in a good old fashioned roasting pan. Add a little bit of liquid, whether water, stock, or your favourite tipple – it will all add flavour. Enjoy!

About the author

Steve West

I used to love going into the butchers when I was a kid. I remember the smell of the sawdust and watching the butchers cut a great big steak off of a rump, and being fascinated. I've been a butcher since I was at school and started working for my childhood sweetheart’s father in his butchery. Before that I'd always wanted to be a zookeeper and work with animals! In 1986 I won the Welsh Lamb Butcher of the Year award and got to give a presentation to Margaret Thatcher at 10 Downing Street, which is a definite career highlight. I’ve always worked with quality meat but never with beef that’s been hung for as long as it is at Jamie's Barbecoa, where I now work. Our dry-ageing and the fact that we're so selective about what we sell makes our products special. I haven't yet seen a single bit of meat that I wouldn't want to sell and it’s such a buzz when customers come back and tell me how good last night’s meal was. There’s quality throughout the range – it’s good being an ambassador for that.

Steve West


Beef, Meat, Pork