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Cuts of Pork

 

As with most large animals, different parts of the carcass are more suitable for different cooking methods. This is due to several factors for example the amount of fat or sinew plus the amount of work the area has been put to throughout the animal's life: the parts of its body which are used frequently build up connective tissue and tend to be tougher e.g. the neck which is constantly moved about in order to the animal to graze.

 

Unfortunately, the closure of many butchers shops has meant that people no longer know which part of the animal they are buying apart from the generic "stewing steak"  or roasting joint.  However, if you are lucky enough to still have a good butchers or farmers market nearby, then  asking for a particular cut  can lessen the chance of incorrect cooking.

 

Below is a guide to the various cuts of pork. These may vary from country to country with different butchering techniques.

 

 

Description of Pork Cuts (alphabetically)

 

Belly
Belly of pork contains a relatively high proportion of  to buy.  This is the area from where bacon rashers are obtained from. As a joint it is ideal for longer cooking such as casseroles although smaller cuts are ideal for barbecuing and the larger joints for slow roasting. Often sold boned it can also be stuffed and rolled.

Suggested recipe:   Bajan Pork Roast

 

Chump
Chump is usually sold  in the form of chops and steaks, although you can buy small joints of this cut. Suitable for frying, grilling and roasting, it's medium priced cut of pork.

Suggested recipe:   Honeyed Pork Chops

 

Collar or Neck End

Collar can be cut into chops, steaks, diced pork and mince. It's slightly fatty and doesn't dry out easily making it suitable for longer periods of cooking. It is also cured for bacon boiling joints. One of the economical cuts of pork/bacon.

Suggested recipe:  Bacon with Broad Beans 

 

Feet/Trotters

Possibly the cheapest cut, it has fallen out of favour over the past 30 years in any countries although some high class restaurants are bringing it back to their menus.  Suitable for slow moist cooking.

Suggested recipe:   Crubeens

 

Head

In many countries in the west, the head is looked down upon and very rarely used except for the making of brawn types of recipes. However as it's very cheap, it shouldn't be overlooked especially in the making of stocks and soups.

Suggested recipe:    Brawn

 

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Hock

Hock is almost always sold smoked. A cheap cut of pork, it requires a longer cooking period and is suitable for use in soups, stews and braised dishes where it adds richness and flavour.

Suggested recipe:  Feijoada Completa

Leg

The leg is considered to be the premium pork joint. Roasting joints from the leg are very lean which makes it a more expensive cut of pork. Steaks and diced meat from the leg are also often sold and are suitable for grilling or stir-frying. This part is also cured into ham, gammon roasting joints, gammon steak and the highest quality bacon.

Suggested recipe:   Gammon Steaks with Cider

 

Loin

The loin runs across most of the back of the pig.  This is where many bone-in chops come from as well as  joints which can be bone in or boned which is sometimes stuffed and rolled. It is also cured into bacon and bacon rashers which ranges from lean to streaky. Most of the cuts are all mid-priced although larger roasting joints from this area are more expensive.

Suggested recipe:  Pork Loin Boulanger

 

Ribs

Because there is a lot of bone in the ribs area, this cut is relatively cheap cut to buy. This is the area where spare ribs come from. These have some meat, but not enough to be classed as chops, however they are excellent roasted or barbecued. When sold as a joint it can be treated like a rack of lamb and is suitable for roasting.

Suggested recipe:   Barbecued Spare Ribs  

 

Shoulder

Although shoulder is a relatively cheap cut, it is suitable for  roasting. It has a rich flavour and is often sold cut into cubes for casseroles and kebabs, minced or made into sausages.

Suggested recipe:    Cannelloni with Pork

 

 

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