Know Your Cuts: Pork Edition

August 26, 2020

What part of the pig is pork belly, and which part is the bacon? Trick question, they’re the exact same! The only difference between the two is a salt cure and smoking and slicing. If you don’t know or aren’t sure of the best way to prepare your pork products, then this is the perfect post for you. See our other posts about lamb and beef if you’d like to learn more about those cuts and the best ways to prepare them. 

When shopping for your groceries, consider seeking out pastured pork that is raised naturally on pasture for the best results and highest nutritional value.

Pork Chops: Grilled, broiled, pan-fried

These are probably the most popular cut of pork for home-cooking and have juicy flavour. There are many different types of chops, such as loin chops (bone-in), sirloin chops, and top loin chops – but regardless of the name, they all come from the loin. In terms of tenderness, note that the thicker the chop – the more tender it will be. 

Pork Butt (shoulder chops): Grilled, broiled, pan-fried.

Shoulder chops come from the blade, which resides on the top of the pork shoulder near the loin. Compared to pork chops, the butt is a bit fattier and not as tender. It stands well to be marinated and tenderized before cooking – but since it lacks some tenderness, pork butt also suits slow cooking very nicely. 

Ham (leg): cured, salted, smoked

Ham comes from the top part of the leg and is usually sold pre-cured or smoked. A popular  option includes prosciutto, which is a cured and salted ham and black forest ham, which is a top-rated deli meat. 

Pork Side Ribs: Slow-grilling, oven slow cook

Pork ribs are always a go-to order when dining at bbq joints, but why not make it at home! Pork side ribs extend around the entire pig’s sides and are slightly less tender than back ribs, but are still very flavourful. The best way to approach cooking pork side ribs is slow and steady. 

Pork Belly: Curing, Braising, Roasting

From the bottom underside of the pig, pork belly is one of the fattiest cuts and offers lots of rich flavour. Because of the high-fat content, curing pork belly is a preferred technique that yields bacon when smoked or sliced. Rendering all the fat away and into the meat through low heat and long cooking times is ideal. Roasting pork belly is tricky, but the results offer tender pork with a crispy layer of skin on top that is delicious. 

Pork Shoulder Roast: Oven-baked

There are many different cuts of the pig that fall under the roast category, but what they all have in common is that they do well in the oven. Roasts always offer tremendous amounts of flavour and come out of the oven full of juices and tender meat. 

Pork Lard:

Pork lard is rendered pork fat. Pork lard functions the same as standard cooking oil does but adds a rich flavour to whatever dishes you cook. Fried pork lard is also a snack enjoyed by some. Similar to rinds, it offers lots of character and crunch enough to become your new guilty pleasure.  

When you’re looking through recipes for dinner, try to find the precise cuts that suit your recipe and experience the difference that it can make. Order your 100% pasture-raised pork from NIKU Farms today, and let’s start cooking!