3 Best Pork Shoulder Substitutes

Pork Shoulder
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If you like eating meat, then you are probably looking for a good recipe on the internet so that you can make the perfect juicy meat dish. As you will know, there are many different types of meat, and each has its own cooking requirements. One of the most common meats to use when making lunch or dinner is pork.

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

However, you may want to use another cut of pork for your diet because the shoulder is quite high in fat. You may well be wondering whether there is 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 substitute pork shoulder with pork butt, center-cut pork loin, and boneless pork leg, but everything depends on the recipe.

I highly recommend you go and check Snake River Farms Kurobuta Pork (gourmet pork from Berkshire), they are really excellent and have a great variety of options to choose from.

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

Substitutes for Pork Shoulder

When choosing an alternative for 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 cooked properly.

This is because the meat is delicate, requires a lot of care, and needs to be well-prepared. Read on and 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 both come 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 is sometimes called Boston butt. This is a good substitute for pork shoulder and in fact 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.

Pork butt 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 into smaller chunks.

When to use it?

Due to its fat marbling and shape, this cut 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

Buy Kurobuta Pork Loin Roast 

This cut comes from an area between the shoulder and the back legs of the pig. It is very tender and this is a very popular, boneless part of the pig. It has an even shape and is less fatty than the other cuts.

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

When to use it?

This cut is not expensive to buy and is easy to find 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.

When grilling this meat be careful and keep an eye on it while cooking, because it cooks faster than other cuts.

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 it also cooks very slowly, like the shoulder. This is a large joint and the bone is usually divided when roasting. It’s more expensive than the other options.

When you roast this cut, it can be dry and difficult to make good crackling, so make sure you cook it carefully.

When to use?

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

Shape and way of cooking:

This cut has a triangular shape and comes from the area 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 used a lot by the pig when it’s alive so as a result the meat is strong and flavorful.

When cooking this part of the pig 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 at a low temperature for a few hours so the result will be a very juicy, tender meat that falls apart when you touch it with your fork.

Related questions:

These are some FAQs related to shoulder pork:

Pork shoulder is the meat located in the pig’s shoulder. 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 a 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 a solid bone, but it is also sold boneless and its typical weight is between 2 and 4 kilos

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?

You can’t use pork loin and expect the same results as when using pork shoulder. The pork loin is not an option because loins are lean and it won’t give you the results you are looking for.

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 30 mins at 325 degrees so the skin is crispy brown.

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

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