Several people have asked me “where is the money muscle?” and “where do I pull the turn-in meat from a pork butt?” So I decided to take a few pictures – and shoot a short video – to explain where the money muscle in pork butts really are.
These cross sections pictures will help you understand exactly where I’m getting the best samples. It’s the best way to get a clear view of the money muscle and tubes.
The first area I concentrate on is what is referred to as “The Money Muscle”. This part of the butt is very tender and marbled with fat that is easily rendered.
What is left is moist, melt-in-your mouth goodness. It’s what wins checks and the trophies. That’s why it’s coined “The Money Muscle”.
It’s actually part or the beginning of the loin. The money muscle is located high on the shoulder, and I’m sure everyone has heard of “Eating High on the Hog”….well this is what they’re talking about.
This part of the hog doesn’t get worked as hard as the other areas, so it makes since for these muscles to be more tender.
The easiest way to locate the money muscle is to find the bone and go to the opposite side. When looking for the perfect butt, it can be hard to visualize through the cryovac packaging.
What I do is feel for the bone then work my hands completely around the money muscle. If it feels firm and runs across the entire face of the butt then it’s probably a pretty good cut. I always get strange looks when people see me digging through the meat cooler squeezing on butts!
The next area I concentrate on is the meat around the blade bone. This meat absorbs flavor from the bone during the cooking process and has perfect texture. The bone radiates heat and helps it to cook evenly, so it’s always in my turn-in box.
I pull the meat from the “Y” of the bone off in large chunks, so the bark can be showcased. The rest of the meat next to the bone gets pulled and tossed with a little sauce.
The last area that I focus on is the “tubes”. These small muscles run across the butt just behind the money muscle. They’re also very tender and can be easily packed with flavor from an injection. The fat that surrounds these tubes renders away and leaves delicate plugs of meat that are ripe for the picking.
So the next time you cook a pork butt – for competition or just in your backyard – you will know exactly where the best parts come from. So you can save those parts for the judges – or for yourself.
And if you concentrate on these areas when you build a blind-box, it will improve technique.