Q. Dear Twig: OK, I'm curious. What's the part of the pig that pulled pork actually comes from?
A. Dear Curious: I gave you a clue last week. "It starts with a b and ends with two t's, but isn't that at all."
The answer is "butt." Like that wasn't obvious. But the butt meat cut doesn't come from the pig's back end. Which is probably just as well. It comes from part of the shoulder. Which is really the shoulder and part of the top of the leg (the front leg). Other names for the butt cut part are pork butt, city butt, Western butt and Boston butt. These are good, strong, colorful names and you might want to share them at dinner tonight.
All this comes from a book I found at the library called Practical Meat Cutting and Merchandising. It says: "Supermarkets generally merchandise fresh butts in their whole form or cut in half." And: "A good meat cutter will understand the muscle structure of the butt and be able to cut and process the butt properly." And: "The intermingling fat increases toward the end of the butt."
All these are gems of both writing and knowledge and you might want to read them aloud for discussion tonight during dinner as well.
Art of conversationally,
P.S. "Butt" is an old word for "cask," or big barrel. Pork shoulders used to be packed in them.
All this gets into meat-cutting terms. Obviously. Cheekily. I apologize if they bother you.
To be exact, the full title of the book I mention is Practical Meat Cutting and Merchandising: Volume 2 — Pork, Lamb, Veal by Thomas Fabbricante and William J. Sultan, Avi Publishing Company Inc., 1975.
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Buy (or not) Twig's books at http://estore.osu-extension.org/ (enter "twig walkingstick" in the search box), including his latest, Beware the Flying Steamer Duck! Birds and What They Doo, and his previousest, Hairy Blenny and the Monkeyface Prickleback: Freshwater Life and a Bit 'o Salt — the latter the winner, believe it or not, of a 2008 gold award for writing and the 2008 outstanding professional skill award for writing from the Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences, yeah, we know, go figure. Also available, his firstest, now back in print: Purple and Green and Stinky in Spring (bugs, plants, wildlife, farming).