Cuts of pork
The diagram below shows the different cuts of pork, their fat levels and any marbling, and the best cooking method(s) for each cut. If you are worried about being healthy while eating pork, you can choose any of the cuts marked with an optimum or very good rating (in fat) in the best cooking method column.
Next to each name of the cut, you will find the word "English" if the cut is from the loin or "American" if the cut is from the shoulder. A prime designation means the meat is extra-lean with only 3% fat or less.
The diagram below shows the different cuts of pork, their fat levels and any marbling, and the best cooking method(s) for each cut. If you are worried about being healthy while eating pork, you can choose any of the cuts marked with an optimum or very good rating (in fat) in the best cooking method column.Next to each name of the cut, you will find the word "English" if the cut is from the loin or "American" if the cut is from the shoulder. A prime designation means the meat is extra-lean with only 3% fat or less.
Aitchbone (no. 1)
This is taken from the "tail end" of the shoulder. It is rectangular shaped with a large round end and a tapered other end.
Are cuts taken from the rib section.
There are five types of Pork chops:
- Rib eye chops – Most prized piece, great marbling, tender, juicy and full of flavor
- Most prized piece, great marbling, tender, juicy and full of flavor Country-style chops – More meaty with a bit more fat than the loin chops. Can be used in smothered dishes.
- More meaty with a bit more fat than the loin chops. Can be used in smothered dishes. Rib chops – Boneless, great value, marbled and my personal favorite!
- Boneless, great value, marbled and my personal favorite! Loin chops – The most expensive, tenderer, leaner, but can also be tough and dry out easier.
- The most expensive, tenderer, leaner, but can also be tough and dry out easier. Blade chops- Very lean, best when marinated and slow cooked.
From the shoulder half of the pig, pork chops come in several forms. Boneless pork chops, bone-in pork chops, double-cut pork chops, boneless center-cut pork chops.
Note that in the image, a pig carcass is shown but the parts would also apply to a side of pork.
Pork butt (or shoulder)
The pork shoulder refers to the upper part of the front leg of the animal. Once the shoulder is separated from the rest of the leg, it is then divided into two parts, the Boston shoulder and the picnic shoulder.
The picnic shoulder or picnic ham is comprised of two muscles in the upper part of the shoulder. The blade bone and the upper butt are separated from the picnic shoulder through a cut by the butcher to yield a nice and rounded, rectangular piece.
The picnic shoulder is the upper part of the Boston butt and it’s sold boneless.
Boston butt is used more for its meat, but it also contains a lot of fat. It’s the part of the pork shoulder (picnic ham) used to make pulled pork products.
You can use a Boston butt to make pork chops or pork steaks.
The pork shoulder cuts closest to the pig’s spine are the leanest, which are higher in protein (especially if you use the split butt).
The meat is a deep red color, which fades to light red as you get closer to the ham (shoulder blade).
Vs. Pork Loin Roast
Tenderloin and loin roast should never be confused since they are completely different cuts of pork. Their taste, tenderness, and yield are different too.
The tenderloin, also known as the filet or scotch tenderloin, is the most tender part of the pig by far. It is the thinnest cut of meat on the pig and is one of the most tender and least flavorful cuts of meat there is.
By comparison, the pork loin roast also known as pork crown roast, is a much fattier and tougher cut. It is the meat surrounding the tenderloin, and while it is not as tender as the tenderloin, the flavor is more pronounced.
While both of these cuts tend to be more expensive than other cuts of pork, the tenderloin is generally more expensive. This is because it provides a much smaller, narrower slice of meat with a smaller yield.
In terms of tenderness and yield, the pork loin roast is the clear winner. Just remember when buying a pork loin roast to choose one that has a dry surface which indicates more marbling.
Pork loin chops are taken from the center of the pork loin. They can be cut into baby back or sirloin chops.
Baby back chops are leaner, rounder and less expensive than sirloin chops. Sirloin chops have as much as 30% more meat than baby back chops. Most people prefer sirloin chops because they are easy to chew and more flavorful.
Whole pork loin chops contain a T-shaped bone in the center. The bone, if small enough, can be used in cooking.
The cheek is a small cut from the face area of the pig which has a long history of both practical and ceremonial application.
The cheeks have a high fat content and are often slow cooked which gives them a depth of flavor.
Larger cheek meat portions are available with or without a flap and should be prepared with long, moist cooking methods.
The meat can be diced and used for hamburgers, meatballs, tacos or added to stews.
Sirloin chops are thick pieces of meat, containing a lot of connective tissue and fat. However, they are ordinarily quite lean, and will usually have a slightly higher fat content than a rib chop.
They can be grilled or braised, depending on taste. Sirloin fries faster than other chops, resulting in a firmer texture.
The pork shoulder and belly are some of the most popular cut from the hog. Used for hams, chops, ribs and salami, they are also flavorful and versatile. Pork belly is bacon and ham combined into one, while the pork shoulder is used for summer roasts and pulled pork. Shoulder is often cured and smoked, but either cut can be cooked using raw methods.
Pork belly is definitely a pork roast that should not be overlooked.
Although it doesn’t have some great instructions on how to be cooked, it is very popular for a reason.
Grilled, smoked and roasted are the most common methods of cooking belly.
There are some incredibly scrumptious recipes and they can become your favourites if cooked right.
Cuts of pork belly come in many sizes and thicknesses.
They can be divided into 2 basic types – thick-cut (1/2 to 3/4 inch thick), or thin-cut (1/4 inch thick).
Thick-cut pork belly is more of a steak, which makes it ideal to be sliced thin and eaten as is, because the meat is tender and juicy enough to not need any special cooking methods.
Thick-cut pork belly is also used for cooking smoky barbecue. Thin-cut pork belly looks more like a piece of pork, and is usually cut and cooked into bacon.
Of Pork: Loin
The Pork leg has two major cuts; the loin and tenderloin. In either case, you will get a lot of meat on this part and it is definitely a good choice when things come to storing a lot of meat for fresh home use. The leg is rolled and tied together so you will need to separate the upper leg from the lower leg above the knee with some sharp and long kitchen scissors.
Once you chop through the bone, you are left with the upper back meat and some meat from the front part. The meat from the upper part is the most desirable one and is often called pork loin. It is lean and considered healthier than the tenderloin meat used for grilling or frying. If the tenderloin part is included on your purchase, just cut the whole tenderloin part into smaller chunks and leave aside to use later.
The tenderloin is the most recommended cut of pork for grilling, frying and other types of cooking. This is because of its low fat content and very tasty meat. The tenderloin also provides the most rewarding ratio when it comes to cost and amount of meat you get compared to the cost you paid.
Tenderloin is also more delicate and you may need to marinate it for at least 12 hours to make sure the flavor is properly absorbed into the meat to have a good taste once it’s cooked.
- Spare ribs are the lower part of a pig with the rib cage. These are fatty and meaty ribs with a thick layer of skin and meat.
- Spare ribs have a variety of uses in cooking.
- Spare ribs appear in a number of cuisines such as Korean, African, American, and France.
Baby back ribs
The baby back pork ribs, also inaccurately referred to as spare ribs, contain the most meat, are meatiest and have the lowest fat content compared to other pork ribs. The baby back ribs are called “spare ribs” because they sit on the side of the cut pig.
15 Leftover Pulled Pork Recipes
Pulled pork is great for cooking because it’s a very versatile ingredient and can be used in many ways.
You can pile it high on a sandwich, mix it with mashed potatoes or serve it over a bowl of your favourite pasta. And you can also use it as recipe for an awesome grilled steak. Here’s a collection of some easy pulled pork recipes with plenty of variations to keep things interesting.