No such thing as a WHOLE shoulder

Discussion in 'Pork' started by walking dude, Sep 19, 2008.

  1. walking dude

    walking dude Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    just got off of the phone with a butcher we have here in town. Asking about a WHOLE shoulder......once again, these guys are talking BUTTS. He said, USDA does NOT sell them WHOLE. Just seperated. Told me i would have to prob. go to a locker to find one.

    Anyone else having problems finding a WHOLE shoulder. Butt and picnic combined?????

    was thinking about getting a picnic. Having @ 9 or so folks for my second birthday feast sunday. How big a picnic would i need. I don't know, personally, how big the bone gets in weight on a picnic, as it will be my first one.
  2. mgwerks

    mgwerks Smoking Fanatic

    He's probably right. The primals that pork is butchered into separate the blated shoulder (butt) from the arm/leg portion.


    B e great to see some Qview of it if you find one!
  3. zapper

    zapper Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Wally World? Different butcher? Sams?

    Just my opinion (yea every body has one and they all...) I would think that the smaller size of a butt or picnic would be perferred for handeling and cooking. Yes it would mean more units to prepare but I think that you could have more variety and somewhat shorter cooking times. And while you may be paying less per pound for a shoulder I think that you are getting more waste. I don't know that there would be a huge savings or loss, I just think that three, eight pound butts would work out better than one 24 pound shoulder.

    Just an opinion....

    Considering that for a civilized, napkin in you lap meal, 1/4 pound of meat is a single portion, and that you could easily loose half of the raw weight during cooking, nine fine folks eating would need 2 1/4 pounds of cooked meat or double that to five pounds of raw meat. Now if it were my barbaric bike riding construction working freeloading stuff our faces freinds.....I would figure three eight pound or bigger butts with lots of sides and booze![​IMG] and keep the party outdoors![​IMG]
  4. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The problem getting a whole shoulder sub-primal is that you'd probably have the rest of the ribcage/backbone still attached to the butt and shoulder and it would be wasty for the price per pound you'd have to pay for it. Yes, you could smoke it but it's a lot of non-edible bone. On a butt you never see the waste.
    I no longer have my cutting tests to refer back to, but if memory serves me correctly, you'll have about 13% total waste/product on a shoulder, between the skin and bone; any fat trimmed off would be additional (what backfat there is on a shoulder you consider viable product as it cuts the leanness of the shoulder when making sausage). On a trimmed butt the bladebone is about 4%. Of course it varies between butts and shoulders, most are an average of 100 individual tests per cut.
    What you could do is find a packing house and get a 1/2 hog and cut it out yourself, plus that would give you cheek and neck from the head, loin, belly and rib, plus ham and shanks for more good Q!

    here's a link to a pork cutting chart that shows the whole shoulder including the ribcage still attached; you can see what I mean by the waste present:

    If the link doesn't work, just go to and you should be able to get to the pork poster chart.
  5. richtee

    richtee Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    And tell ya what...I did that half hog last year, and it's alot of work. Cold work LOL!
  6. crewdawg52

    crewdawg52 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Here's a blurb from some site I found.

    "Which Cut: The pork shoulder is the entire front leg and shoulder of a hog. In your grocery store you will usually find this divided into two cuts, the Boston butt and the picnic. Contrary to what you are probably thinking the butt comes from the upper part of the front shoulder. A pork shoulder should weigh in at between 12 and 16 pounds. It will have a bone and joint plus a good helping of fat and collagen. The fat is good. During the long hours of smoking the fat will melt away and keep the meat moist. Some experts will tell you that this is how you determine when it is done. When most all the fat is gone and before the meat starts to dry out is the time to get it out of the smoker. Collagen is the connective tissue in meat. The process of smoking causes collagen to breakdown into simple sugars making the meat sweet and tender.

    Butt or Picnic: As I said the pork shoulder is frequently cut into the Boston butt and the picnic. The Boston butt has less bone than the picnic and both cuts will weigh about 6 to 8 pounds. If you can't find a whole pork shoulder at your local store you can get either or both of these cuts and have just what you need. The picnic can come with or without the bone. Experts generally say that meat nearest the bone is the sweetest and will opt for bone in. The picnic is more similar to an unprepared ham than the Boston butt, but both work great for pulled pork. In competitions you more frequently see butts over picnics."

    Seems if you have a good butcher in town, he could get you any cut of meat you want. Just give him plenty of time to order it.
  7. walking dude

    walking dude Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member i said in my earlier post, they don't SELL the whole shoulder anymore, according to the USDA.

    Nope on sams, checked with them. Wally world just had picnics

    i called all local butchers, and all of em said, to get the whole shoulder, i would have to contact a locker, where they butchr hogs, and place my order there.

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