Pastured pork picnic roast.
Compared to the Butt/Shoulder roast directly above the Picnic roast on the pig's front leg, the Picnic roast is usually more flavorful because of the bone and can have a more odd shape since the leg tapers at this point. There is much debate on the internet about which piece is preferred to make great pulled pork. I think either cut will be just fine -so long as you cook them low and slow to melt the connective tissue (aka internal-self-basting mechanism).
The pork butt is referring to the shoulder. The term butt comes from the way that the pork shoulder cuts were packaged into barrels back in the day and these barrels were referred to as butts. These barrels were used for packaging and shipping. To complicate things even more our good friends up in Boston were cutting the pork shoulder in such a way that it was referred to in other regions of the country as the Boston butt.
The most simple way to look at it is that the whole shoulder is made up of two separate cuts, the butt and the picnic.
The picnic is the portion closest to the knee where the butt is the portion closest to the spine of the animal, ie. furthest from the knee. Normally a Boston butt will be rectangular in shape. The picnic tends to look like a cone, with one side being larger and a smaller side having the look of an actual leg, bone and all.
The take home message is as follows: The term pork shoulder is generally used to describe the cuts of meat found within the pork shoulder, the butt or the picnic, or both.
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