While the U.S. pork butt is considered an undervalued cut in this country, it received royal treatment from a group of international visitors who unveiled a delicious variety of recipes and presentations for an appreciative audience of several hundred attendees at the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Strategic Planning Conference in Tucson, Ariz.
Chefs from the British Virgin Islands, China and South Korea were joined by a recipe contest winner from Japan last Thursday for a demonstration of their unique approaches to the pork CT (cellar-trimmed) butt, and the crowd voted its approval by enjoying seconds – and sometimes third helpings – while making the rounds of the internationally themed food stations.
Support for the event was provided through the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) as well as the Pork, Corn and Soybean checkoff programs.
Jerk pork sliders with caramelized onions from the Caribbean, butterfly pork butt steak and Cantonese-style barbecued U.S. pork from China, hutsumabushi (a dish traditionally made with grilled eel, rice and Japanese herbs) from Japan and bulgogi from South Korea were instant hits with the gathering of 200-plus USMEF members from around the U.S.
"Both Chinese chefs and consumers think that U.S. pork is very high quality," says executive chef Guo Kai Yang of The Supersteak Restaurant in Shenzhen, as he demonstrated his preparation techniques for the audience.
"Once you've tasted pork butt, you'll always want to go back," adds executive chef Lisa Sellers of the Caribbean's Peter Island Resort & Spa, who prepared both her jerk pork sliders as well as her popular pork butt Mighty Cone – shredded pork in a tortilla "snow cone."
As one of the top volume export items in Asian markets, the pork butt has been a significant contributor to the record pace U.S. pork exports are maintaining this year. Overall, exports through the first eight months of 2011 are up 16% in volume over 2010 to 3.2 billion pounds valued at $3.8 billion – an increase of 23% in value.