3 Best Pork Shoulder Substitutes

Pork Shoulder

If you like eating meat then you are probably looking for a good recipe on the internet to make the perfect juicy meat dish. Actually there are many types of meat and each has its own way of cooking. One of the most common meats that are used when making lunch or dinner is pork meat.

If you are a fan of chili Verde, pulled pork or carnitas, then pork shoulder is the main ingredient that you’ll need. You can find this cut of meat in supermarkets and at the butcher’s shop. Actually this is inexpensive meat, frequently used and that’s why it may be hard for you to find it.

However, you may want to use another cut of pork for your diet because the shoulder contains more fat. You probably wonder: Is there another pork cut that can be used instead of pork shoulder?

Can I substitute shoulder pork with other types of pork meat when cooking? Yes, you can, but everything depends on the recipe. You can substitute pork shoulder with pork butt, center-cut pork loin, and boneless pork leg.

Follow the article as I’ll share some details when to use these substitute cuts and what is actually shoulder pork.

What part of the pig is the shoulder pork?

Pork shoulder is actually the meat located in the pig’s shoulder part. This cut is tough and it is covered with fat. It’s not very hard to find and more importantly, it’s not expensive. The name of the shoulder is different depending on the region.

It’s commonly known as Boston butt or as a picnic shoulder. Even though the shoulder is connected to the butt, they are different. The butt is the upper part of the pig.

Pork shoulder is solid-bone, but it is also sold boneless and its typical weight is between 2 or 4 kilos.

Shape and way of cooking:

This cut has a triangular shape and this area is above the front leg of the pig. It is included in the picnic cut of the ham cut or the leg bone. This part of the pig is exposed a lot during the time that the pig is alive, so as a result, the meat is strong and flavorful.

When cooking this part of the pork it is important to know that because of its toughness it needs to be cooked for a longer period. This is a muscle that requires a longer roasting.

Also, this cut is very fatty, so when you cook it, make sure that it is cooked slowly and low for a few hours so the result will be a very juicy, tender meat that falls apart when you touch it with your fork.

Substitutes for pork Shoulder

When choosing an alternative to cook a recipe that mainly uses pork shoulder, keep in mind that not all recipes can include these substitutes. As I previously mentioned, each pork cut has its own way of cooking and it may take a longer or shorter period of time to be roasted properly.

This is because the meat is a delicate type of dish that requires a lot of care and needs to be well-prepared. Read through as I’ll tell you which pork shoulder substitute is good when cooking:

1. Pork butt (Boston butt):

Boston butt

Even though butt and shoulder pork comes from the same part of the pig, they are actually different. Boston butt is the meat located on the upper part of the pig’s body. It’s named “butt” because of the barrels the pork is put into.

This shoulder cut became known in New England and hence became the Boston butt. This is a good substitute for pork shoulder and this cut is even better than the pork shoulder. They are both cooked very slowly so you’ll need more time when preparing this meal.

It can weigh up to 3 kilos when it’s sold with a bone in it. Usually, when you buy this cut they take out the bone and cut it in smaller chunks.

When to use it?

Due to its fat marbling and shape, this can be used in almost all slow-cooking methods. It is very similar to the shoulder and sometimes they are sold or cooked together. It’s acceptable to use it when you are braising, stewing, roasting, or smoking the meat.

2. Center Cut Pork Loin Roast:

pork loin

This is an area between the shoulder and the back legs of the pig. This part is tender and when you are roasting it the tenderloin roast as well. This is a very popular boneless part of the pig. It has an even shape and is less fat than the other cuts.

Usually, it is sold without the bone as it is more tasteful and flavorful. This cut is too lean and no matter how long you cook it it’ll never fall apart as the pork shoulder.

When to use it?

This cut is not expensive to buy and to find it in markets. It also cooks easily. Whether you cook it with or without its bone, this meat can be roasted and still keep its juices and tenderness.

Even when grilling this meat be careful and keep an eye while cooking because it cooks faster than the other parts.

Also, seasoning is required when cooking meat. But don’t use this cut if you want to cook pulled pork as the recipe requires a hard-working piece of muscle and this cut is nowhere near.

3. Boneless Pork Leg

Boneless pork leg

Another option is the cut for the leg. It’s commonly used in many recipes and also it cooks very slowly as the shoulder. This is a large joint and the bone is usually divided when roasting. Well, it’s actually more expensive than the other options.

However, its leanness is what makes this cut good. Another thing is that when you roast it can be dry and difficult to make a good crackling, so make sure you cook it properly.

When to use?

Use this type of meat when you cook pulled pork. It can be adjusted the same way as the shoulder because it is a muscle and has connective tissues. The texture and flavor would be similar to cooking pork shoulder. Use it as a substitute for other recipes as well.

Related questions:

These are some FAQs related to shoulder pork:

Can I use pork chops instead of pork shoulder?

No, you can’t. Especially if you are cooking pulled pork which requires very fatty meat like the pork shoulder or other parts that are fattier.

Can I substitute pork loin for shoulder pork?

Well, you can’t use a pork loin and expect the same results as when using pork shoulder. This pork loin is not an option because loins are lean and it won’t have the same effect as you expect.

How long does it take to cook a pork shoulder?

You have to preheat the oven to 350 degrees and let the meat roast for 2 hours and then another ½ hour to 325 degrees so the skin would be crispy brown.

If you want more crunchy skin then cook it in the oven for an additional 20 to 30 min on a 400 degrees heated oven.

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