How to Trim a Pork Butt in 3 Easy Steps

How to Trim a Pork Butt in 3 Easy Steps

Pork Butts are some of the most straightforward cuts of meat to smoke. Pitmasters worldwide have fallen in love with its rich flavor and juicy texture. The natural marbling of fat throughout the shoulder ensures delicious results every time. The only question is, how do you trim this cut of meat? Throughout the years, I’ve developed a game plan that creates a decadent Boston butt with a rich bark. Today, I’m teaching you How to Trim a Pork Butt in 3 Easy Steps. 

By the end of this tutorial, you’ll be equipped to smoke your own backyard masterpiece. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend all day trimming a Boston butt. This tutorial keeps it simple and sane. Give this method a shot, and let me know how your pork butt turns out! 

How to Trim a Pork Butt | Heath Riles BBQ

Many overlook one of BBQ's most essential parts - trimming the meat. When your pork butt is properly trimmed, it smokes to perfection. Any tricky bits of fat are removed, leaving you with buttery fat that infuses the meat with flavor and moisture. You never know; these simple hacks could be the difference between a good meal and a great feast. Sharpen your knives, and let’s get to it! 

The Process for Trimming a Pork Shoulder

You’ll find a detailed demonstration of this recipe within the video and recipe card. For now, here’s a brief overview of how I trim a pork butt. 

  • Remove packaging. I carefully cut the pork butt out of its packaging and drained any juices. I patted the meat dry. This ensures the knife can efficiently work through the meat without slipping. Always remember, safety first!
  • Trim the fat cap. I trimmed any large pieces of fat and sinew off the meat. I also worked my knife under the edge of the fat cap, peeling it off. This will help the pork shoulder cook evenly and give it an excellent finish! Be sure to watch the video to learn the trick to removing a fat cap seamlessly. My Prairie Fresh USA Prime Pork Butt came just about ready to go. Other brands aren’t as clean, so your amount of elbow grease may vary!
  • Even the pork butt. I kept trimming the pork shoulder to expose as much of the meat as possible. This creates the best bark with incredible flavor! Once the fat cap and large pieces of sinew are gone, the pork butt will look a little lopsided. I took off the meat flaps and trimmed a little off the sides so the pork butt had a cohesive shape. This step is particularly important in competitions, where presentation is key. You can save meat flaps to cook as “chef’s snacks” or grind into sausage. 

Remember … you can trim your pork butt the way you like. These guidelines aren’t law! If you feel like your meat needs more or less taken off, do it your way. Your kitchen, your rules. 

The Results

The end result was a trimmed Boston butt that was perfectly primed for binder and seasoning! I removed all hard pieces of fat, giving the meat a clean appearance. The pork butt had the perfect amount of marbling, making it the ideal canvas for any pork shoulder recipe.

The Knife

Every pitmaster will play butcher from time to time. That’s why it’s essential to have the best knife possible. A sharp knife will help you get the perfect cut of meat and keep you safe. There’s nothing more dangerous than working with a dull blade! 

My knife of choice is the Victorinox Fibrox Boning Knife. It is cost-effective, does the job, and comes with a lifetime guarantee! 

Heath’s Favorite Pork Butt Recipes

You’ve learned How to Trim a Pork Butt; now you need a few innovative ways to use your creation. Here are a few of my favorite recipes that use Boston Butt. 

  • Pulled Pork Sandwiches. This recipe is my all-time favorite way to use pulled pork shoulder. There’s nothing better than a hearty sandwich topped with a drizzle of Heath Riles BBQ Sweet BBQ Sauce and Heath Riles BBQ Tangy Vinegar Sauce
  • Memphis-Style Pulled Pork Nachos. Take your favorite appetizer to a new level with the addition of smoked pork. This is a great recipe for game day or date night. Add a spicy margarita for a complete meal!
  • Smoked Mac and Cheese. Add some smoked pork butt to your Smoked Mac and Cheese for a hearty twist. This recipe is a favorite with kids and adults! 
  • Meal Prep Options. If you’re into meal prep, you can make life easier by vacuum-sealing your smoked Boston butt. Use it to top salads, wraps, tacos, pizza, and more. Or, if you’re craving simplicity, eat it solo with a little BBQ sauce. 
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