Pork and Pig Cuts of Meat

Author: Philip Lee Hewitson - Google+
Have you ever wondered about the different parts of a pig ?

Here I will explain the different types of meat which are cut
off the pig to produce those delicious hog roast sandwiches
and many other delicious meals.

cuts of pork

The pig is divided into nine main parts for British cuts:
Hand / arm or shoulder
Spare rib roast

The loin is located on what we would call the “back “ of the pig. This is where back bacon is produced from. The bacon is cured which is a technique used for food preservation and then often times smoked . In America this type of bacon is often referred to as “ Canadian –style “. Loin can also be used to make roasts and are named by the reference point on the pig where they have been removed. For example front, centre or rear.

The pig’s back ribs are also taken from this section of the pig. They are usually called baby back ribs or riblets. When slowly cooked these ribs are juicy and very tender. You will also find pork tenderloin in this section of the pig. It is taken form the psoas major muscle along the central spine, ventral to the lumbar vertebrae. This is a tender part of the pig which contains little or no fat.

This expensive but very tender part of the pork is highly sought after and enjoyed at most family’s dinners. IF you are wondering where your pork chops come from look no further as they are also located here. They are cut perpendicular to the spine so they contain a bone with each individualized portion of meat.

The belly of the pork is a fatty cut which contains no bones. This part of the pig is usually used in America to make what is called “streaky bacon”. The pork belly is very popular in Asian countries and is used in a wide variety of dishes there. Pancetta is also produced from this area of the pig . Pancetta is termed Italian bacon. It is typically salt cured and seasoned and is very popular in Spain. It is generally cut very thin.

hind leg is where ham or gammon comes from. IF you have ever wondered what the difference between ham and gammon is I have the answer for you right here. Most Americans will call it ham. It is called a ham because they are already precooked or cured. In Britain it is often called a gammon this is because it is raw. Whether it is gammon or ham your after there are several ways to finish off your pork before it is to be served.

Cure it in salt or honey, smoke it, dry it or simply leave it uncooked. Dry-cured ham called Prosciutto is thinly sliced and served uncooked and is also produced from the hind leg of a pig.

Hock Between the pig’s tibia/fibula and the metatarsals is where you will find the hock. It’s not yet the pigs feet but the shank end of the leg bone just before what would be considered it’s ankles. Hocks are often used in soups or added to other dishes to add flavour such as cabbage or collard greens.

Trotters are of course the pig’s feet. The feet are used to flavour soups, to make stocks, to thicken gravy and in some places are served as the main dish.

A pig’s head is boiled to make stocks, soups or brawn/ head cheese. Head cheese or brawn is not a cheese but meat jelly made with the flesh of the head of a pig. Another useful part of the pig’s head is it’s ears. These are cooked or fried then eaten and sometimes given to the dog as a tasty treat.

Hand/Arm or shoulder are usually used in different combinations depending on your own preference. For example a shoulder arm picnic uses the arm bone , the shank bone and a portion of the blade. It has some fat on it and is usually used for roasting . A shoulder arm roast is basically the same as the picnic but with the shank bone removed. The shoulder blade uses the top part of the shoulder exposing the blade bone on both sides.

Spare rib roast and blade are just the same as the arm or shoulder. They are just butchered at different areas along the pig’s collar area. They are all most often used as roasts.

With so many uses for every part of the pig it’s no wonder it’s a favourite meal around the world !

While doing my research I came across a recipe I decided to make tonight for dinner. Pork belly is a relatively cheap cut of meat and a small amount goes a long way for a family of four. Here are the details listed below:

Pork Belly Roast

1-2.5 kg pork belly
Olive oil

Preheat your oven to gas mark 6.
Score the top or the skin of your pig belly and place in a roasting pan on the wire rack skin on top.
Place about an inch of water in the bottom of the pan but make sure it isn’t touching the bottom of your pork.
Next pour enough oil to cover the skin then rub salt into the oil on the pig belly.
Place in oven and cook for 30 mins.
After it has cooked for 30 minutes squeeze the lemon juice over the top, reduce the heat in the oven to gas mark 4 and return.
Roast for an additional 2 hours.
Finally turn the heat back up to gas mark 7 and blast for another 30 minutes to produce the crispy crackling.
Once cooked allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving .

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