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Hog Anatomy: a Pain in the….

 Is a pork butt a pork shoulder?

 Seems like a little lesson in pig anatomy would be appropriate here, but it's more complicated than we'd like.

You are essentially right – the top portion of the front leg of the hog is called the blade shoulder, the Boston blade shoulder, or the Boston butt, depending on where you live. The Boston butt, rolled Boston butt, smoked Boston butt, blade roast, and blade steak are cuts that come from this section of the animal.

The lower portion of the shoulder, where the front leg joins the body, is called the arm shoulder or picnic shoulder. The boneless arm picnic roast, smoked picnic roast, fresh picnic shoulder, and cushion picnic shoulder are names of cuts that come from the lower front shoulder.

Now things get complicated. If the ham is the entire back section and leg of the hog, there are those who call the lower portion the shank half and the upper portion the butt half. And from that butt half, you can get a ham butt slice or steak or a butt-half ham.

For many people, the butt is nowhere near the back end of the pig. But for others, it can be.

The names of cuts of meat vary greatly from region to region. We are sure to get emails now from people (including butchers) who agree that the butt is only related to the upper shoulder, and others who swear we are nuts – that the butt has always been associated with the hog's hindquarters. The pressure of this job can sometimes be overwhelming….

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