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Cheapest Place To Buy Boston Butt/Pork Shoulder? What About Cheapest Place That Smokes It?

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I need to make enough pulled pork for 50 people. I've road tested a recipe, but now need to find a cheaper source for the boston butt/pork shoulder. I will need about 4 boston butts about 7-8 lbs each. Where is the best place price wise in SF? Upper peninsula okay too.

On the other hand, the test run of one pork shoulder smoked on a a gas grill with wood chips for 15 hrs almost killed me and I'm not looking forward to doing 4. Is there a place that will sell pulled pork en masse for cheap? I am willing to even take the pork whole (not pulled) or provide the shop with pork and pay for smoking service. In this case, all the Bay Area is ok.

Thanks for your help!

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  1. You can buy circa 16 lb. boneless pork shoulders at Costco for around $1.30 per pound. I know of nothing cheaper.

    1. Probably better off renting a smoker, or finding a friend who has a medium capacity smoker.

      1. Costco sounds like a good bet. Cash and Carry in Oakland might be cheaper, no membership however.

        1. There's a place on El Camino Real, in San Bruno, that might work. IIRC, it's The Rib Shack.

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          Rib Shack
          223 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA

          1. I'm pretty sure you can buy in quantity from Memphis Minnie's. That won't be your cheapest option but it would be tasty.

            I dunno about Costco, but I'm sure their price is right. In my recent travels, I've bought boston butts from Avedano's, Safeway, and Manila Oriental Market -- and Manila was my favorite. The price was close to Safeway's and the quality was indistinguishable from Avedano's (which, BTW, is way better than Safeway). The other notable difference was that the cuts were small, around 3# each.

            1 Reply
            1. re: BernalKC

              $1.89/# for skin-on, bone-out shoulders at Manila Market yesterday. They had bone-in cuts too, but I didn't take note of the price. Like I mentioned, they are all smaller cuts, but really good looking meat. I'm wondering if their sourcing is similar to the Chinatown butchers.

            2. Problem with Costco is that that they are boneless. If you do not mind, then that is a great choice for the price. For bone-in you can go to most supermarkets like Safeway and ask the butcher to sell you the butts still in their cryovac packaging. They come 2 butts to a package and are typically about 8-10 pounds each.

              You can also get them on the cheap at Restaurant Depot, but you will need someone with a business or non-profit license. Smart & Final is also cheap, but they do not always have them.

              1. You can buy them at the various Chinese butchers on Stockton Street in Chinatown for less than $2 per pound. The trick is to get there in the morning when the whole fresh pigs are delivered and before they've been portioned smaller.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Yes, I was going to suggest New May Wah on Clement, but you really need to know what you are asking for (i.e. boston butt vs. shoulder).

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                  New May Wah
                  719 Clement St, San Francisco, CA

                  1. re: Civil Bear

                    I thought the boston butt is upper part of the pig shoulder and the picnic butt is the lower. So I am assuming when someone says pork shoulder for sale its one of these or the whole?

                    1. re: vliang

                      Yes you are correct, so a whole shoulder would include the butt and the picnic. The problem is that the Chinese butchers in town do not necessarily use these conventions.

                      1. re: Civil Bear

                        How would you ask for it in Chinese? Just lierally zhu jian bang (pig shoulder)? Maybe there's a Cantonese way of saying this as it seems most Chinese butchers in town seem to speak Cantonese.

                        1. re: vliang

                          LOL, I wouldn't have a clue. The one time I did have them cut some shoulder to order it was all done with hand signals!

                2. Lucky Stores often has cuts of pork (shoulders, ribs, etc.) on weekly specials anywhere from $0.99 to $1.49 a pound.

                  Can't help you about finding a smoker.

                  1. i know cash and carry has bone in butts for about $1.90 a lb. Much better than the boneless option of costco., although not as good as the Chinese markets.
                    I'm pretty sure the guys who do the farmers market in petaluma will smoke stuff for you, they are good, i'm a fan! Maybe a little far for you though......