Saturday, March 27, 2010

Picnic Cut: A Crash Course

Pulled pork again, you say?  Well first of all, yes. I love pulled pork.  Second, a good friend was miffed that last week's project yielded no leftovers for him to try.  So he said he had to taste this stuff and would do all the shopping, etc.  How could I refuse?

My first concern arose when he told me that he'd gotten a shoulder.  He asks me, "The picnic cut, right?"  The what?  You mean you didn't get a Boston butt?  I was vaguely aware that the shoulder was made up of more than one cut of meat--but only barely.  

Here's a cool chart I found thanks to a Google search that landed me at  You can see that the butt is more behind the neck and the picnic cut incorporates some leg.  In fact, while the butt is an amorphous collection of yummy pork, the picnic cut has some vivid reminders that your dinner once walked and wallered about. 

You see here that the picnic cut has a good deal of skin (which my buddy and I removed and saved--much to my wife's chagrin.  Any good recipes for cracklins?).  You can also see the stump where the front leg came down at one point.  This cook felt a little PG-13 for gore and violence, friends.

With the rub our cut here looks fresh out of some horror flick--or burn unit.

Looking around the I learned that cooking a picnic cut is no different than cooking a butt. You just have to decide what to do with the skin.  Some folks score it and then rub it.  I just took it off in an effort to get more bark.

Below is our picnic cut after 18 hours.  I wrapped in foil for 2 hours before dinner.  Note the reddish goo dripping out of the leg bone into the drip pan.

This thing pulled very easily.  See the leg knuckle in there?  Mmm.  Grill knuckles.

Usually I douse some eastern NC-style vinegar sauce into the pork as I pull it.  But my friend is from Memphis and a bit of a minimalist.  So we ate it "dry" and had some sauces on the table to sample.  In fact, he's a bit of a barbecue snob, so it's with great pride that I report that he was really impressed with how it came out.  We both had a great time and ate some really good food.


  1. How did you end up getting the skin off? Pliers or just cutting patiently?

  2. A very sharp knife...most important utensil in youe kitchen