Pork is one of the most widely eaten meats around the world. And it’s no wonder, really. It’s affordable, versatile and easy to preserve. Many home cooks feel overwhelmed by the different meat cuts, but they shouldn’t be. Once you know your meat cuts, you will be able to cook them correctly and make delicious meals! Here are a few of the most popular cuts and how to use them!
The tenderloin (also known as the fillet) is the leanest part of the pig. It’s the most tender of all the pork cuts and therefore, it’s also the most expensive. Because it’s a lean cut, it’s easy to overcook and can become dry. It also has little connective tissue, which means it has a mild flavor. The best method to cook the tenderloin is a quick pan-fry in a bit of oil. Rest the meat for about 5 minutes before serving it with a flavorsome sauce. Try our recipe for Apple Spice Pork Tenderloin.
Loin chops are also cut from the loin. You can order it from the butcher either as a whole roast, or cut into chops. This cut needs to be carefully cooked. You need to cook it long enough to render the fat, but also avoid overcooking it as it will become tough. See how we make Instant Pot Pork Chops and Gravy.
This cut is high in connective tissue, which means it has a lot of flavor, but needs a long time to cook. The most popular way is to precook it in a crockpot (slow cooker) or instant pot, and then finish it off on the barbeque. Make sure to give it a marinade for extra flavor and tenderness.
Pork belly is a favorite in cuisines around the world. It’s the fattiest cut of pork meat and it’s this fat that becomes delicious pork crackling when roasted in the oven. This part is also used to produce streaky bacon, or Italian pancetta. The most popular way of cooking it is by roasting it in the oven. Start your oven at a high heat (460°F or 240°C) and roast the pork belly until the skin is crispy and golden brown. Turn the heat down to (350°F or 180°C) and roast until cooked through.
The not-so-popular cuts…
It’s the hardest working muscle on the pig, but that means lots of connective tissue and tons of flavor. In Italy, it’s cured and called guanciale – a term derived from the Italian word for cheek ‘guancia’. It’s not that easy to come by, but if you can find it, you will be rewarded with an amazing piece of meat. Use it to make a delicious goulash and serve with pasta.
These are essentially the pig’s feet and it’s eaten in many cultures. It has little meat, but is rich in collagen which makes it not only a popular beauty food, but is also useful to add flavor and richness to a stew. Because of the high amount of connective tissue, it needs to be cooked low and slow!
Pigs’ ears are mostly connective tissue and cartilage. In Western countries, they are dried and used for pet food. On other parts of the world however, they’re considered a delicacy. They can be deep fried, or stewed and served with a sauce. The connective tissue become gelatinous, whereas the cartilage provides crunch. In Spain, you can even buy tinned pigs’ ears!
What is your favorite cut of pork, and how do you cook it?