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Chinese Pork Shoulder VS St Lawrence Market Pork Shoulder... Worth the $$?

Pork shoulder... Is that something you'd probably never buy from a higher end butcher, or something you'd always buy from a higher end butcher?

I know the chinese places have them super cheap, which is what I've always bought.

Curious as to your thoughts?

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  1. Depends on what you're using it for. If it's for pulled pork...then Chinese butcher all the way. If you're cooking it as a roast or making sausage or a stew, I might spend some extra dough.

    The stuff at the SLM, though, is probably the same quality of meat as Chinese butcher shop. Unless it's "heritage" pork like BErkshire or something like that.

    Whatever you do, don't buy "seasoned" pork. It's pumped with salt water.

    6 Replies
    1. re: grandgourmand

      Chinese pork shoulder has lots of flavor and collagen for a stew. I would reserve the heritage breed pork for loin or leg cuts, where more marbling is needed.

      Most of our pork comes from large barn operations, but a portion of those use healthy feeding options.(The farmers get paid more, otherwise they wouldn't do it.)
      I have never seen 'healthy feeding' pork, or heritage breed pork in a Chinese market.

      If you do go to a butcher shop or meat counter, it pays to ask a few questions. More often than not they don't have answers, unfortunately.

      1. re: jayt90

        "I would reserve the heritage breed pork for loin or leg cuts, where more marbling is needed."

        That was my thought too at first.. I think most of us end up going to the pricier meat places for pricier cuts, and was wondering if it's worth looking for more standard cuts at these places too. Surely it would stand to reason that the nicer animal is going to have a nicer shoulder no? But if the price goes from what, I think as low as less than $2 a lb at a chinese market, to like $10+ a lb at a pricier place (no idea what they might charge) it's probably not worth it to me. I should just ask how much it costs and give one a try I guess, or at least see if there's a huge visible difference.

        1. re: SocksManly

          http://www.nossotalho.com/home.php

          A great source for all things pork, last week I bought pork picnic shoulders for $0.69 per lb they had pork loins for $1.29 per pound.

          Also a great source for Portuguese sausages and cheeses and bacalhau etc.

          1. re: blogs

            Very cool! I'll check this place out for sure. Kinda funny their two locations are right close together like that.. heh.

            I loooove me some bacalhau or however that might be spelled. My wife's family always makes that at Christmas time in Mexico City, so good. Any idea if using the Norwegian fish is worth it?

            1. re: SocksManly

              There is good salt cod from Sable Island, Nova Scotia at Sobey's. Cod is cod anywhere you can still get it.

              1. re: SocksManly

                keep in mind that one location only takes cash. i can never remember which but you should call if that is of concern.

                this is pretty much the one stop shop before the smoker gets fired up.

      2. I frequently buy the anomalously named butt for brining and subsequently making into bacon. I know that's a cut not traditionally used in North America for bacon. I have bought it a various price points and cannot tell the difference. Just maybe I could if I had them side by side, but that's not going to happen. I don't like bacon that much.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Paulustrious

          It's not fair to tell us you make bacon out of a pork shoulder, and not include directions? ;)

          1. re: SocksManly

            Paulustrious' directions for making bacon from pork shoulder have been split to the Home Cooking board. You can find it at the link below:

            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/665481

        2. So I'm not sure if we got to a conclusion in this thread from way back... Anyone have any info on smoking / bbq'ing pork shoulders from the fancy butchers? How much do they charge per lb? Is the resulting product worth the added price?

          Called Cumbrae's, $6.99 a lb for a bone in shoulder. I think the Chinese places sell it normally for $1.99, on sale for $1.39, and yesterday at European Meats they were $2.29/lb

          3 Replies
          1. re: SocksManly

            I am fine with the factory pork at $1-$2/lb at Asian places, or Sobeys and Highland Farms by the quarter. Pork belly, too, tastes the same. However, the pigs are treated better at Cumbrae's, although only the luxury cuts taste better, from greater marbling. The shoulder is well flavored and marbled from almost any source.
            The two things I dislike about factory barn pork are inhumane treatment, and the awful barn smell and waste for those who live in the area. I recently visited Strathroy, ON, and found the whole town of 30,000 smelling from a few factory barns. We can pay the big price at Cumbrae to avoid this, but generally we are too cheap..

            1. re: jayt90

              I agree, that they tend to taste about the same on cheaper cuts (i.e. pork belly/shoulder). But I find that fat from the more expensive or "boutique" pork, have a much cleaner finish, and isn't as heavy/cloy on the palette.

              You don't really notice this until you eat a lot of pork belly/shoulder in one sitting, like I did :d

              1. re: jayt90

                Pig muck stinks--amount and proximity are multipliers. Inhumane treatment of animals is often more an HR issue than a ops issue--injury is lost money, as is illness caused by overcrowding. My sense is that boutique meat sells this fabulist fog that fudges the shoat-to-plate trajectory . There's a huge placebo effect in play, too: cheap pork naturally tastes inferior to "heritage" pork. In my experience, too much red cooked pork rides the same(i.e., heavily) on my stomach--whatever its pedigree and/or life experience.