For pork lovers on a budget, there is nothing cheaper than pork shoulder. It often goes on sale for less than $2 a pound and can even be found for less than $1 on a lucky day. An average-size, 6- or 7-pound pork shoulder feeds at least eight people, so a crowd can eat very well for less than $15.
Pork shoulder is sometimes called a "Boston butt" (or sometimes just "butt"), which refers to the top part of the shoulder, including the blade bone. This is a very flavorful, fatty cut with a good bit of connective tissue. A "picnic" cut, from lower down the front leg, has a long bone running through it and far less marbling. Both are hefty cuts of meat with hefty doses of calories and fat, but produce a meal of tender succulence after low, slow cooking. Either will do in a recipe stating simply "pork shoulder," although most recipes call for one or the other.
It's not worth it, most of the time, to pay extra for a boned shoulder, because the bone adds flavor during the cooking process. Just understand that, at the end, there will be no neat slices. Pulled pork, which derives from the shoulder, is a way to solve the serving issue -- the meat becomes so tender after its hours of cooking that it just pulls away from the bone.
Every pork-eating country in the world has come up with a way to cook this flavorful cut, and most of them are dead easy. The recipes tend to have strong accompanying flavors to stand up to the long cooking time and deep taste of the meat, and an overnight marinade is usual. Given that the oven has to be on for many hours, the waning days of winter and the chilly start of spring are perfect times to try these 15 pork shoulder recipes. Grill masters willing to spend the day tending coals can also make a delicious summer barbecue. Got leftovers? Shred the pork and use it in tacos, sandwiches, or even pasta.