Butchery skills for this piece were provided by Jamie Waldron & written content by Ontario Pork.
In the previous issue of this newsletter, we focused on the loin section of the hog—home to some of the most popular (and expensive) cuts of pork.
We now move to the shoulder, a cost-effective yet versatile cut—think pulled pork, braised blade roast and marinated pork satays.
The shoulder represents approximately 18% of the entire carcass and is commonly split into two portions of roughly equal size: the pork shoulder blade and the pork shoulder picnic.
The blade is the upper portion of the pork shoulder and can often be found labelled as shoulder butt or Boston butt. It’s the portion of the shoulder that connects with the pork loin—and as a fresh meat item, is more popular in retail and retail than the picnic.
To prepare a boneless item, the neck bones and feather bones are first removed. At this point, the rather large blade bone can be removed, taking care not to allow too much meat to remain on the bone. A boneless blade will be free of all bones, cartilage and skin.
The heart of the shoulder blade is known as the capicola, a continuum of the loin muscle into the shoulder. This is a boneless cut, with the blade bone and two superior muscles removed.
The capicola is extremely well marbled and uniform in shape, making it perfect for exceptional, low-cost boneless roasts and chops. This cut is achieved by following a natural seam above the blade bone and separating the capicola muscle from the remainder of the blade.
Now we move to the picnic portion of the shoulder, which is usually merchandised as economical roasts or chops. It can also be used to make ground pork and sausages.
The hock and front foot are removed, and remaining skin and fat are trimmed clean. A boneless picnic can be prepared in a similar manner to a boneless shoulder blade by removing the skin and all the associated bones.
Recall that if the carcass was initially separated with a break between the second and third rib bones, until removed, two of these bones remain in the picnic. Going one step further, a boneless picnic can be merchandised by separating out the pork picnic cushion. This is a very lean portion of the picnic—it will have a very high yield and produce almost no waste.
In our next issue we’ll move to the pork leg—get ready for prosciutto, schnitzel and scaloppini!