The pork money muscle is a bulgy, cylindrical-shaped load-bearing muscle taken from the Boston butt. Also called tiger muscle or pork collar, it’s found at the opposite end of the blade bone in the pork shoulder. When prepared with the fat marbling, it gets very flavorful, moist, succulent, and as tender as butter. This is everything you want out of a Boston butt.
When I started my cooking and barbecue journey, I had a lot of questions about the money muscle in pork butts. Over the years, I’ve learned more about this through personal research, constant experimenting, and preparation processes. So, I’m here to answer all your questions about preparing and cooking the famed pork butt’s money muscle in your backyard or a BBQ competition.
Money muscle, or pork collar, as we like to call it, comes from the top half of a pork shoulder on the opposite end of the bone.
The pork butt part, from where the money muscle is taken, is beautifully marbled and streaked with fat. This distinguishes it from other pork cuts and gives the meat an intense flavor like no other pork butt cut.
The money muscle is always on the opposite side of the bone. By taking a closer look, it looks like the smaller pork loin. Unlike the pork loin, however, the pork butt has a deep strip of intramuscular fat. This helps the meat soften up during cooking and provides rich, buttery flavors for the muscle.
Let’s look at how to handle the money muscle, from the tools you need to the carving process and the smoking procedure.
First, grab an injector. If you don’t have one, I recommend the Ofargo Meat Injector Syringe Kit. This is the best-selling and one of the cheapest online.
You’re also going to need a sharp meat knife. You can use other knives, but I prefer the boning knife. In any case, it will need to be very sharp and easy to maneuver and one you feel confident handling.
Start by washing the chunk of meat under a running tap, and start dissecting this meat.
A bone runs through the money muscle on the pork butt. It looks like the pork shoulder shank bone, but we call it the blade bone.
This bone takes a significant portion of the money muscle. To get rid of it, you’ll need to carve it out little by little, away from the pork butt with your boning knife into a butterfly steak. This video shows how this is done.
Tips: You may have a ton of meat on the bone. But don’t worry, you don’t have to throw the bone away with all that meat. I like to use it to make stews, soups, and dishes like beef bourguignon. So you may refrigerate it for later use. Don’t be wasteful!
The next thing you need to do is get rid of the fat cap on the pork butt covering the money muscle. Also, expose the sides of the muscles as much as possible by following the fat line.
The fat cap is always too thick, and none of that will render out. Stop when you finally have flat meat on each side of the butterflied steak.
We’re not going to need the meat on each side of the bulging muscle for this recipe. So take them out with your knife.
You can cut them into steaks for stewing with the bone you removed.
What I like to do next is push as much flavor as possible into the muscle. For this, get about a cup of apple juice.
Next, drop a solid tablespoon of soy sauce and one or two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce into the cup.
If you want, toss a little bit of your BBQ rub (about a tablespoon) into the marinade you’re making.
Then mix the marinade thoroughly in the cup with a spoon.
Injecting your meat is something you should learn to do, especially if you’re into competition barbecue. Don’t forget to apply your competition rules as the case may be. Not aware of any rules? Check this out.
So take your injector and get it loaded with marinade. Inject it in different spots on the bulging muscle.
You’ll watch it swell up once you inject each spot. Once an injection site is full of juice, it’ll start to squirt out. Just insert it into another spot and then rinse and repeat.
I know many of you are used to binders. However, you don’t need a binder in this case. All you need to do is get a good dust of rub on the meat until it’s all covered up. Flip the other side over and repeat.
Get your smoker running up to 250 degrees. Insert a meat thermometer deep in the money muscle from the side into the thick part of the meat.
The goal is to use it to monitor the internal temperature of the meat. The safe doneness temperature here is around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. But the first stop is 165 degrees.
Once you get your money muscle to 165 degrees, this is where we do the texas crutch. This means wrapping the meat in foil and then continue cooking.
Don’t use butcher paper. You need an aluminum foil wrapper that traps the moisture.
After the first wrap, add a second layer of aluminum foil. You need a double layer of foil to ensure it’s as tightly wrapped and compacted as possible. This will help keep all that liquid and moisture in. To trap more mixture and help with the flavor, mix and pour some brown sugar, honey, and butter on the inside of the foil. Then lay the meat and wrap it.
Go ahead and throw the wrapped money muscle back on the smoker until you hit an internal temperature of 190 degrees.
With this, you’re almost done cooking it. By now, I guarantee you this bad boy would be quite tender and pretty delicious. But we’re not there yet.
Unwrap the meat from the foil. Carve the money muscle out of the meat with your knife and get it on a wood platter.
Clean it up a little by getting rid of some of that fat.
Now, the pork butt is ready to eat. You could eat this as it is now. First, I like to add some Carolina barbecue sauce and warm it up in the smoker.
One of my favorite BBQ sauces for this is Lillie's Q Carolina Barbeque Sauce. Get a good drizzle on the cooked money muscle. Then brush it down to make sure you get good coverage.
Put the money muscle back onto the smoker unwrapped. Cook it until it’s around 197 degrees. This will take about 30 minutes, and it should be ready for serving.
An adequately trimmed and well-smoked pork butt money muscle is as tender as it is delicious, moist, and flavorful. If you follow my step-by-step carving and cooking process, it’ll have a nice bark, especially if you add the BBQ sauce towards the end and smoke it unwrapped.
What’s special about the money muscle is that by barely pulling the cooked muscle, it will come apart. The intramuscular fats help with the taste and tenderize the muscle until it becomes soft and dripping. That’s why they call it the money muscle!