Inklings: INKLINGS Getting to the bottom of the butt

  • Thursday, January 26, 2012

I am continually delighted at where I find delectable recipes. They’ve come from dinner parties, of course, at poolside, on a trip, in the grocery store and once, thank you Lord, in church. Recently I got one while having my nails done in an enchanting shade of “Melon of Troy,” while blatantly listening in on a culinary conversation between nail tech Karen Cobin (of Just Me) and her client Linda Gissell. 
Linda was enthusing about cooking a Boston butt in the crockpot which makes “the best barbecue sandwiches you ever tasted.” She prefers mustard based barbecue sauce – which is our family favorite too – and pairs it with Cole slaw, right on the bun. What also attracted my attention was her saying how easy it was and how so many people asked for her recipe. I had to have it too.
Linda, who’s lived in Summerville for 41 years, loves to cook for her family, including two daughters and two grandsons. She has plenty of time for this now as she has been retired for six years after teaching middle school science for 31 in Dorchester District II. Her daily schedule now includes baby sitting for those grandsons. She also loves to read, swim, and to do kind deeds for other people – like sharing special recipes!
I had not cooked a Boston butt, and thought it was the part of the pig that went over the fence last. After checking it out on Wikipedia I discovered the bottom line is that it’s a cut from the upper part of the shoulder from the front leg. The name came from pre-revolutionary New England where the most highly valued pork cuts, such as loin and ham, were referred to as “high on the hog.” The less desirable cuts were packed into casks or barrels – also known as “butts” for storage and shipment. The way the hog shoulder was cut in the Boston area became known as the “Boston butt.” The good news is that it’s a cheaper cut, much of the fat can removed or drained off, and the even better, that dozens of online recipe ratings agree with Linda’s assessment of its goodness. Here’s how she does it.
Linda’s Boston Butt Barbecue (Serves 8)
          8-10 pound Boston butt roast
          ½ cup water
          2 bottles barbecue sauce
Put the roast and the water in the crock pot. Cook 12 hours. The meat will be falling off the bone. Remove liquid and any remaining fat. Remove blade bone. Shred meat with two forks right in the crock pot. Add barbecue sauce. Continue cooking (2 to 4 hours) to taste or reheat for the upcoming meal.
Linda has cooked the meat frozen as well as fresh. She cooks it on High and adds nothing else. Others add vinegar, salt and pepper, garlic and onions, or even a dozen whole cloves. Some cooks strain off the fat and put some of the liquid back into the crockpot. You can use a smaller roast and adjust the amount of sauce. I would cook it on Low as I have an infamously cranky crock pot.
          You can set it up your way and cook it all night or all day while at work and come home to pure hog heaven!

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