Pork Cushion Meat: What it is?

When it comes to pork cuts available, there are many options to choose from. Have you ever heard about pork cushion meat? This cut is less popular than others, but trust me, you’re missing a nice cut with excellent tenderness and juiciness. Let’s take a closer look at this lesser-known pork product. 

What Is Pork Cushion Meat? 

Pork cushion meat is a triangular-shaped cut from the large muscle shoulder of a pig. It is also called a pork shoulder cushion, which has tenderness and juiciness when cooked. The location of the cushion meat typically comes from the pork shoulder’s upper part, near the Boston butt or picnic shoulder. 

This part of meat has less fat than others; it also has a denser and tougher texture as a result; therefore, it requires a longer cooking time to become tender enough to shred. Slow cooking is the ideal method of cooking in this case, given the final dish with softness, juiciness, and flavor. 

What is pork cushion meat good for? 

Cushion meat adapts well to culinary preparations such as roasting, braising, or slow cooking. You will have great dishes balanced with flavors, tenderness, and juiciness when finished. 

  • Roasting: Season, roast, and serve your delicious cushion meat as a main dish. The meat keeps it juicy during the roasting process thanks to its marbling. 
  • Braising: Simmered cushion meat in broth or wine until tender and flavorful. Try this method when you want to prepare dishes like braised pork shoulder or carnitas.
  • Pulled pork: Cooked cushion meat until tender, shredding and mixing it with barbecue sauce or other seasonings, depending on your preference. Serve it with sandwiches or tacos for a nutritious, delicious breakfast.

What’s the difference between pork shoulder and pork cushion? 

The pork shoulder and pork cushion come from the large muscle of a pig shoulder area. The difference between them is their specific location within the shoulder

  • The pork shoulder, also known as pork butt or Boston butt, gets from the upper part of the shoulder, near the neck. This section has some amounts of the blade bone and relatively high fat and marbling, giving rich flavor and tenderness to the dish when cooked. 
  • Pork cushion, also known as pork shoulder cushion or pork shoulder blade meat, comes from the lower part of the shoulder, near the leg. The cushion meat typically does not include the blade bone. It has a lot of marbling and connective tissue, giving the dish tenderness and juiciness.

How to cook pork cushion meat 

To cook pork cushion meat properly, follow the general guide below: 

  • Season the pork cushion meat with herbs, spices, and seasonings. A basic formula combines salt, pepper, and garlic powder, but you can customize it depending on your taste preference. 
  • Next, sear the meat before cooking to add flavor and texture to the final dish. Use a skillet or Dutch oven, add oil and heat at medium-high temperature, and sear the pork cushion on both sides until browned.
  • Slow cooking the pork cushion meat with options such as oven roasting, braising, and slow cooker. These methods gradually break down the connective tissues, making the meat tender and juicy when enjoyed. Time for cooking can vary based on the size and thickness of the pork cushion meat. The USDA recommends that pork’s internal temperature reach a safe minimum of 145°F (63°C). 
  • When finished cooking, take the cushion meat from the heat source, and let aside rest for a few minutes, so the juices have time to redistribute. Shred the meat into smaller pieces for ready enjoyment. The tender and juicy pork cushion is an excellent combination in dishes such as pulled pork sandwiches, tacos, or as a side dish. 

How to Make Pulled Pork from Pork Cushion 

Follow the step to step guidelines below if you want to make pulled pork from pork cushion:

  • Using a dry rub or marinade to season the pork cushion meat. Paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and black pepper is the standard formula you can apply. Marinating the meat in the fridge requires at least 1 hour; overnight is better.   
  • Preheat your cookware to 325°F (163°C) for the oven or set a low setting for your slow cooker. 
  • Searing the meat with medium-high heat, sear the seasoned pork cushion on all sides until browned. 
  • Place the pork cushion in a roasting pan, Dutch oven, or slow cooker. For more flavor, you can add sliced onions or garlic. Slow cook on low heat in the oven or a slow cooker for 6 to 8 hours until the meat is tender enough and ready to shred with a fork.
  • Ensuring the internal temperature of the pork reaches a minimum of 145°F (63°C).
  • Once finished, remove the cushion meat from the heating source and rest for a few minutes. Shred the meat into smaller pieces with forks or your hands. 
  • Toss the meat evenly with your favorite barbecue sauce or other seasonings for more taste. You can serve it with sandwiches,  tacos, salads, nachos, or baked potatoes.

FAQ relate to Pork Cushion Meat

What is the cheapest pork cut and why?

Pork shoulder is a more affordable pork cut, particularly the Boston Butt portion. It contains more connective tissue and intramuscular fat than other cuts. So it requires longer cooking times and effort to get the optimal tenderness. This is why it is cheaper than more tender cuts such as pork tenderloin or pork loin chops. Furthermore, the less demand for pork shoulder compared to premium cuts like pork tenderloin, pork chops, or bacon contributes to its more affordable price point.

Do you cover a pork roast in the oven?

Yes, you can cover a pork roast in the oven. This helps retain moisture and makes the final dish more tender and juicy. However, if you want crispy skin on the roast, uncover it for the last portion of the cooking time to allow it to brown. 

What is high-quality pork called?

High-quality pork is called “heritage pork” or “premium pork.” These terms typically refer to pork using specific production practices to raise, such as:

  • Heritage pork comes from traditional or heritage pig breeds that have yet to be widely crossbred or modified. 
  • Organic pork comes from pigs raised with organic farming practices. 
  • Pasture-raised pork comes from pigs roaming and foraging in open pastures and is supplemented with feed.

What spices are good for pork?

Numerous spices pair well with pork; salt, black pepper, garlic, Paprika, rosemary, thyme, sage, and cumin are popular spices and herbs you can use. 

Cushion meat is vertical in various culinary preparations, making it a popular choice in many receipts. Consider used in barbecue, pulled pork sandwiches, or as a base for stews and casseroles for more flavors, softness, and juiciness for the dish.