Why is It Called Boston Butt? (And How It Got Its Name)

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There are many different types of meat in the world, and lots of cuts of meat from the same animal. Many of these will have random, unique names.

In this article, we are going to be exploring the cut of meat known as Boston Butt.

We will be focusing in particular on what Boston Butt is, why it is called this goofy name, and how it came to be known as such.

Why Is It Called Boston Butt?

The Boston butt is a name you may have heard of before. It is, of course, a cut of pork. You may well be thinking that it is just in reference to where on the animal it was cut.

For example, the rump steak is cut from the ‘rump’ which is near the butt of the cow. However, unlike what the name suggests, it is not actually cut from anywhere near the butt of an animal.

The Boston Butt is so-called because of where the meat became popular. It has nothing to do with the animal it comes from or where on the animal it resides. It simply refers to the fact that the cut of meat was commonly found in Boston.

The reference to ‘butt’ is even more confusing. Butt is actually a reference to where the meat was kept. It was eaten by the people of Revolutionary New England and Colonial America. They stored the meat in large barrels, known as Butts.

With this in mind, when you consider that the meat was commonly eaten in New England, and of course, Boston, and was kept in ‘butts’, the name makes total sense.

How Did It Get Its Name?

The Boston Butt gets its name from two origins. The place it was commonly eaten, and where the meat was kept. As we explored in the previous section, Boston Butt is not in reference to the place on the animal the meat is cut from.

Simply put, this cut of meat was a popular cut of meat in Boston, and was kept in big barrels known as butts.

That being said, you should not let this make you think that this popular cut was only eaten in Boston. Nowadays, it is eaten all over the country, and even in Colonial times, it would have been eaten all over Colonial America.

Ok, so what?  We have mentioned numerous times that it is a cut of meat, and you even know the origins of the name, but it would be helpful to find out what animal it comes from exactly and how it is eaten and cooked.

What Is a Boston Butt?

In simple terms, Boston Butt is a cut of meat. To be more exact, it is a cut of meat from the pig. This makes it a cut of pork. To be even more specific, the Boston Butt is a cut of pork from the shoulder of the pig.

This is a wedge-shaped piece of meat that is situated just above the ‘picnic cut’ of beef. It is a very popular cut of pork, especially in Southern cooking (which can be quite confusing when you consider the East Coast origins of the name).

Of course, as we have already explored, ‘butt’ would suggest that this cut of pork comes from the backside of the pig. However, that is not the case. In fact, the cut of meat from that part of the pig is ham.

As the Boston Butt forms a part of the pork shoulder, if you buy a pork shoulder from your butcher, you will find that one part of this cut will be the Boston Butt.

The other part of the shoulder cut is the picnic cut (or arm roast). That being said, it is very common to find Boston Butt being sold and used separately. This is because butchers often cut the pork shoulder in two.

What Is the Boston Butt Used For?

Boston Butt is a popular cut of meat in states all over America. Whilst its origins are in the East Coast, it is a very popular cut of pork in Southern cuisine. It is often used for a roasting joint and served alongside roasted potatoes, vegetables, and gravy.

Boston butt is also fantastic for use in stews and chili. The reason for this is because of the marbling of fat that runs through it. Just like a chuck roast, this makes it a great candidate for ground meat.

If you are a fan of pulled meat, then Boston butt will be the perfect cut of meat for you (here’s our guide on how to pull pork). You can use this to create perfect barbecue pulled pork, whether in a slow cooker or stockpot. Use your favorite barbecue sauce recipe and enjoy the rich, juicy and succulent texture.

You may even want to use it in your smoker to create some beautifully smoked pork. This is yet another method that can be used to create pulled pork and works especially well with hickory wood and cherry wood.  Check out our full list of woods that work for pork right here.

How Can You Cook Boston Butt?

Boston Butt can be cooked in a number of ways. As we mentioned in the previous section, it lends itself well to many different much-loved recipes. This means that it also works well when cooked in various ways.

Whether you like to roast your pork or slow cook it, this cut can be cooked to perfection either way. Perhaps you are an avid fan of the barbecue or smoker. Fear not, because Boston Butt is ideal for this.

The most important thing to remember is that you should cook your particular piece of meat according to its weight. The smaller the cut the less time it will need and the bigger or heavier, the more time it will need. Ask your butcher for more specific advice on cooking this delicious cut of pork.