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So, what is the best pork shoulder substitute? Of course, the ultimate substitute for a particular pork shoulder is a different pork shoulder. Alternatively, pork leg (ham), upper loin roast, and upper leg are also suitable. For substitutes that do not contain pork, lamb shoulder or sirloin is the best substitute.
So today, we will delve into the pork shoulder and discuss its texture, taste, cooking methods, and more. This will help you choose the best substitutes based on the purpose of the meat, not just the texture and flavor.
Using the Right Substitute
Few would argue that pork shoulder is a wonderful and unique cut. In fact, there are few alternatives that can really come close to competing with it. Still, we were able to compile a list of what we feel are viable alternatives. We’re confident that these substitutes will make choosing the most suitable option much easier.
Try Another Shoulder Cut
Do you have a recipe that calls for Boston butt? You might think that you have no other recourse but to use pork shoulder. The good news is that you have options. Many people think that if they can’t find an exact cut, they won’t be able to enjoy certain recipes.
But the truth of the matter is that all shoulder meats have many of the same characteristics that define them in the first place. Let’s assume for a moment that you have a recipe that requires a butterfly picnic cut.
All you need to do is find any regular shoulder cut. Even a deboned shoulder cut will serve you well if you’re stewing some of the pieces. Simply cut it up into the proper sizes according to what the recipe calls for.
As far as ground pork goes, any shoulder part works well. Just select a piece that’s been processed (boneless and skinned). You can choose pork blades, pork steaks, or butterfly shoulders.
If you have to use a piece for whole-roasting, you can use a picnic shoulder rather than an upper shoulder, as they share similar characteristics, textures, and flavors. The only real difference is their sizes. Parts like Boston butt just need to cook longer.
Top Loin Roast
Top loin roast is a great chunk of meat, and you will find that it can be used for a variety of different cooking purposes.
What’s more, this meat is derived from whole pork loin and is called roasted meat due to its size — it usually weighs between two and four pounds.
This type of meat is thinner and leaner than most shoulder parts. As such, the extra fat needs to be added to increase the moisture and richness of the meat.
Many people actually prefer top loin roast as an alternative to pork shoulder because it is very similar in structure. Please note, though, that both need to be cooked longer in order to produce softer, juicier meat.
Judging by the name, it’s obvious that top loin roast is best served roasted. This is mainly due to the shape, as it resembles a log. Plus, the taste that roasting provides enhances the loin’s exterior.
Due to its exclusive shape, you can also make delicious steaks with top loin roast. And you can cook them in similar methods. The upper loin roast can also be made into a good stew or even minced pork.
If you prefer to cook the whole top loin roast, the process is very similar to if you were preparing pork shoulder. As such, cooking at the start of the process needs to be at a higher temperature, as it will help make the outer layer of skin crispier.
Therefore, you usually need to set your temperature to about 400°F and cook for between 20 and 25 minutes. After that time has passed, lower the temperature to about 350˚F and roast for another 40 to 50 minutes.
Please note that the total time may vary depending on what kind of meat you’re using and how big it is. A shorter roasting time is needed compared a shoulder because it is usually a lot smaller and therefore cooks faster.
Top Leg Ham
Top leg ham refers to the pig’s back legs, not its front legs where the shoulders are. As you may have guessed, both the front and back legs share similar characteristics because pigs use them in a very similar way.
The pig’s leg meat is also found in various cuts. The best substitute for almost all pork shoulder has to be the inner upper leg. It’s very close to the pig’s back and sports a very similar structure.
You can also find it with or without bone. It’s important to pay attention to this piece compared to the shoulders, as it tends to be drier and usually contains less fat.
This meat is a fine alternative to whole pork shoulder. But you will need to check the moisture content constantly because it is dry.
You can cook it in a similar way to roasting the loin. Simply bake it with high heat for approximately 25 minutes. Then, reduce the heat and keep cooking for between 40 and 45 minutes based on size. It’s a good idea to cook for 25 minutes per one pound of meat.
Find More Food Substitutes at Cook Gem
As you can see, you don’t necessarily have to use pork shoulder. These tasty alternatives work remarkably well in replacing pork shoulder. So much so that some people prefer certain substitutes to the real thing.
To learn about other alternatives, we invite you to check out the rest of our Food Substitutes page. And if you need some healthy recipes for inspiration, explore our Vegan Recipes or Global Recipes sections. Your meals will never get boring when you implement these recipes into your diet.