While pork is among the most popular and widely eaten meats in the world (except for Muslim nations), there are some pork cuts that are not as well known and as easily recognized by the majority of the public.
One such cut is the pork cushion meat.
If you want to find out more about the pork cushion cut, which part of the pig it comes from, and how to best prepare it, then read on.
What is the Pork Cushion Cut?
The pork cushion is a deboned pork cut that comes from the large muscle of the picnic shoulder of the animal. It is a cut containing well-worked and lean muscle from the shoulder with a lot of flavors when prepared correctly.
The pork cushion meat can be in all types of shapes and sizes, depending on how it has been cut but is usually in a triangular shape when it is removed from the bone.
A pork cushion will typically weigh from two to three pounds and contains a lot of connective tissue from the animal’s shoulder area.
The best way to prepare pork cushion in order to get the finest results in taste and texture is through low and slow cooking methods. But this pork cut can also be prepared by being sliced into cutlets which are tenderized with marinade or by pounding.
If the pork cushion is going to be smoked, then it can be prepared and smoked just like you would proceed with a Boston butt.
But you should monitor the meat’s internal temperature more frequently, as this cut is traditionally smaller than the Boston butt and will be cooked faster.
Pork Cushion vs Boston Butt
Cuts from the pig’s foreleg include the Boston butt and pork cushion. The picnic shoulder, which is right beneath the butt, is where the pork cushion is derived from.
Because the pig butt is a section of the animal that hasn’t been utilized or exercised all that much, it is a beautifully marbled cut with a lot of high-quality fat in the muscles.
The pork cushion, on the other hand, has substantially less intramuscular fat and denser, more extensively exercised muscle. Compared to the Boston butt, it is a harder pork cut.
Still, both of these pork cuts are suitable for smoking, braising, roasting, stewing, and other low and slow food prep methods.
In most cases, the pork cushion will need to be cooked to a higher internal temperature than the pork butt for the best results. The recommended temperature for the perfectly cooked pork cushion is 200-205 degrees Fahrenheit.
Check our comparison between pork shoulder and pork butt and which one is the best
What are the Best Recipes for Pork Cushions?
The pork cushion cut allows for great versatility when it comes to recipes and cooking methods. With a low and slow cooking method, the pork cushion will become delicious and succulent pulled pork. But this unique pork cut can be used in various other mouthwatering recipes as well.
Pork cushion for cutlets and chops
Since it is a denser and tougher cut, a pork cushion is suitable for cooking when it is sliced in separate chops.
You can fry the chops in a pan, and they will be very flavorful but can be chewy as well. This is due to the fact that when they are pan-fried, the connective tissues and the marbling cannot break down in such a short cooking time. In order to resolve this problem, you can first tenderize the meat with one of the following methods and recipes:
- Pounding the cushion meat slices into thin cutlets can help break down the tougher tissues instead of marinating the meat. You can then prepare the thin cutlets like authentic German Schnitzels or use them for making sandwiches with fried pork, and use them instead of pork loin chop.
- Using marinade can tenderize the pork cushion meat cut, but it is recommended that you slice it into thin slices before using the marinade. This will help the marinade to sink deeper into the meat and break down the tissue before you pan fry the meat. One excellent recipe for marinade suitable for pork cushion meat is the spicy Korean pork recipe.
Pork cushion roasts
You can prepare the pork cushion cut as you would make a standing rib roast or roast beef. Roasting the pork cushion meat requires little and easy preparation and is done at a higher temperature than low and slow barbecuing or smoking.
You can try out the recipe for herb-crusted pork roast, which takes 20 minutes to prepare before cooking it, and simply replace the meat in the recipe with the pork cushion.
If you want to use the pork cushion for making a roast, make sure that you cook it for 35-40 minutes per pound until the temperature inside the meat is at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the roast is ready, you can slice it and serve it, and it will surely impress your family or guests.
Pork cushion soups and stews
If you have leftover pork from preparing any of the above-mentioned or others, then you can cut it into cubes and make an easy and filling pork stew. This is a great way to utilize all leftovers and minimize the waste of food.
If you feel like enjoying a thicker stew, you can add some broth and veggies and let it simmer on the stovetop or cook it in a slow cooker.
For a more refined pork cushion stew, you can try out the classic pork stew recipe, which requires about 30 minutes to prep and 1 hour to cook.
The leftover pork cushion can also be incorporated into delicious ramen, and if you have meat that is already cooked, then you can make this easy pork ramen dish in a matter of minutes.
Another option is to use the leftover pork for making a stir-fry with pork.
Hopefully, this article has helped you learn more about the not-so-popular pork cushion cut and how it can be used to prepare a delicious meal with it.
If there is no pork cushion available in your store, you can order some at your local butcher and impress your family and friends with a delicious and different take on the more traditional pork-based meals.