What most people don’t know is that pork is actually the most widely consumed meat in the whole world. Save for some predominantly Muslim and Jewish countries, almost all nations have dishes that are centered around pork, and have foodstuffs derived from pork meat like sausages, bacon, etcetera.
Despite this, there’s still a lot among us who can’t seem to differentiate one pork cut from the other. People can recognize pork chops, ribs, loin, and other such common cuts easily- but what about pork cushion? This is a pork cut that doesn’t seem to get as much love and attention as the other more popular cuts. Which is a shame, since the meat from this cut can make tender and juicy roasts, as well as heavenly pulled pork.
But first, we need to know what pork cushion meat really is.
What is Pork Cushion Meat?
Pork cushion meat is a deboned cut of meat from the large muscle of a pig’s picnic shoulder. As this is a part that gets a lot of exercise, the meat is very lean and has a nice texture.
This makes it great for any dish that requires slow cooking like roasts and stews (basically, anything wtih a thick sauce) that you need to cook for longer. The “cushion” refers to the lean muscle that is located on one side of the meat.
Oftentimes, pork cushion meat is confused with Boston butt because of the fact that both cuts of meat come from basically the same part of the pig (the picnic shoulder). However, the Boston butt comes from a thicker part of the shoulder, where there is more fat.
In comparison, pork cushion is mostly meat with minimal fat, along with some connective tissue. This is the reason why you just can’t slice it up and pan fry it like you would do a pork chop; the tougher meat needs a longer cooking time.
Due to this, pork cushion meat is cheaper than other fat-heavy pork cuts.
Pork Cushion Meat Pulled Pork
For the rub:
*Two tablespoons Cajun seasoning
*One tablespoon Kosher salt
*Two tablespoons brown sugar
*One tablespoon paprika
*One teaspoon ground cumin
*One tablespoon mesquite powder
*One tablespoon dried chipotle powder
*One tablespoon ground black pepper
For the cooking broth:
*Half cup apple cider vinegar
*Half cup apple juice concentrate
*One teaspoon liquid smoke
*Barbecue sauces (you can use any kind of barbecue sauce here,
store-bought or homemade)
*Three pounds of boneless pork cushion meat
*White or whole wheat bread buns, two dozen
- If your meat comes in one large piece, you can cut it into three smaller manageable chunks before applying the rub.
- In a large bowl, mix all of the rub ingredients together. Once mixed, press the rub onto the meat chunks. Make sure that the rub covers all sides. Put the meat inside a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and keep in the refrigerator overnight.
- In a large crock pot, pour in the cooking broth ingredients and cook under high heat for a few minutes. Then add in the rub-marinated meat chunks, complete with the spices and juices that might have seeped out of the meat.
- After one hour has passed, turn the heat to low and/or follow your crock pot’s instruction for cooking on the low heat setting. Cooking the meat chunks for pulled pork usually takes about eight to ten hours.
- Take out the meat from the crock pot once cooked. To shred the meat, use two forks to pull at the meat and shred it into strips. You can serve it with some of the broth as sauce.
- Top the buns with a generous amount of pulled pork and serve.
Slow Cooked Pork Cushion Roast
*Three pounds of pork cushion meat
*Two onions, sliced
*Three garlic cloves, sliced
*Three potatoes, cut into cubes
*Three carrots, cut into medium-sized chunks
*Quarter cup red wine vinegar
*Quarter cup soy sauce
*One cup hot water
*Two tablespoons white sugar
*Two tablespoons sugar
*Half teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
*Three tablespoons red wine
*Half teaspoon garlic powder
*One teaspoon ground black pepper
*Two tablespoons of cornstarch mixed in one tablespoon of water
- Prepare slow cooker by spraying the sides and bottom with cooking spray.
- In a bowl, mix the liquid ingredients (soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, wine) along with the sugar, black pepper, chicken bouillon, and garlic powder. If you want a hint of spiciness on your roast, try adding a dash of your preferred hot sauce to the mix.
- Mix the ingredients well and microwave for about half a minute to further blend the flavors together. Set aside.
- Take the crock pot and layer the onion and garlic slices on the bottom. Then put the pork cushion roast on the bed of onion and garlic. Pour the liquid mixture on top of the roast, then add in the potatoes and carrots to the pot.
- Cook the roast for eight hours. Around the seven hour mark, you can stir in the cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce.
- Serve with rice, vegetable sidings, or noodles.
Easy Pork Cushion Carnitas
*Three pounds pork cushion meat
*Two teaspoons each of dried oregano, cumin, and salt
*One teaspoon ground black pepper
*One tablespoon chili powder
*Four cloves of garlic, minced
*Two onions, sliced thinly
*Juice from two oranges
*Juice from two limes
- Combine all of the spices (oregano, cumin, salt, chili powder. black pepper) in a small bowl. Rub this mix thoroughly onto the meat, making sure that all sides are covered.
- Place the seasoned meat as well as the garlic onions, and orange and lime juice in the pot or slow cooker and cook everything for about eight hours on medium heat. Alternatively, you can cook the carnitas in around four to five hours in high heat.
- Once cooked, take out the meat from the cooker and pull at it with forks (like you would do for pulled pork). If needed, season with more salt and pepper. Let it cool for about thirty minutes.
- Lay out the meat on a baking sheet, and broil in the oven for about three to four minutes, or until the meat is crisp and crusted.
This was very helpful as I had no idea of cooking with pork cushion before a found it on sale.
After reading I decided to use a cooking method that works well on less tender but flavorful meats.
I cut it in slices like chops and did a braise or fricassee. First I rubbed on my spices and let it marinate for an hour. Then I browned the meat on both sides with high heat. Turned the heat down and added a 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of red wine. Turn down the heat and simmer for 15 – 18 minutes.
You could also flour the meat before cooking and get a nice gravy.