Quarantine Tips: The Ultimate Guide To Different Pork Cuts
Pork belly is the meat that runs across the swine's stomach. It is considerably fatty, containing around 14-15 grams of fat per ounce, which makes it best used for grilling and frying. The fatty portion browns beautifully and releases flavourful notes. With its generous fat content and length, it is also ideal for curing such in the case of bacon and pancetta.
Pork chops are one of the most popular cuts of pork and can be used in a variety of ways. These are cut from four main pork cuts such as shoulder chops, rib chops, loin chops, and sirloin chops. Unlike pork belly where fat is distributed throughout the meat, in pork chops, it is concentrated on one side, and can be up to two inches thick. This part tends to run on the tougher side so it is best to tenderise and brine them before cooking to enhance the texture and flavour. Pork chops are ideal for searing and baking, roasting, and slow-cooking. If tenderised well, they make for delightful tonkatsu.
Ham is the huge chuck of meat found in the pig's hind leg. Ham, as we know it, is usually cured and can be bought either bone in or boneless. But more than being cured, fresh ham can also be turned into an array of dishes such as pork roasts, as it has enough skin but a tad leaner. You can wet brine it overnight for more flavour, but rubbing the skin with herbs and then finishing it off with a sweet glaze such as maple or brown sugar mixture does the trick.
There are two cuts of ribs: baby back ribs and spare ribs. The former is from the upper part of the ribs attached to the backbone, near to the loin, while the latter is from the bottom half, near the belly. The main difference between the two is the amount of fat they contain. Because spare ribs are located beside the belly, it is fattier than baby back ribs. Baby back ribs are also shorter compared to spare ribs (hence, the use of "baby" in its name). A usual star in barbecue parties, baby back ribs make for a meatier, leaner grilled dish. On the other hand, spare ribs are best braised or smoked.
Pork loin is a large piece of meat that runs across the back of the pig from the shoulder to the ham. The loin is where you can get the baby back ribs and pork chops. It is also where the blade end, centre cut, and sirloin is found. The blade end is the meat nearest to the shoulder, which contains the most fat among the three. The centre cut can be further divided into a pork chop, pork chine, or Frenched pork loin. The sirloin is an oddly shaped piece of meat that is located beside the ham and can be prepped into pork roasts or steaks.
More From Tatler: Five Things To Remember When Baking Bread At Home
Usually mistaken as the loin, the tenderloin actually lies beneath the backbone of the pig right above the belly beside the kidney. Tenderloin is the leanest and as its name implies, the most tender part of the pork. Because there is a limited portion of this part that can be drawn from a pig, it is usually the priciest cut. It cooks quite quickly, thanks to its relatively small size. Tenderloin is best used for quick searing, roasting, and broiling.
The Boston butt, contrary to its name, is not located at the rear end of the pig; rather it can found at the shoulder of the pig. It has beautiful marbling, with pockets of fat spread across the meat, as well as features connective tissues that makes it not an ideal cut for grilling or frying. On the other hand, its rich flavours work best for stews, pulled pork or carnitas.
Picnic ham, on the other hand, is also known as the pork shoulder. It is located below the Boston butt right before the hock. Similar to ham, picnic ham is often cured or smoked. Meanwhile, fresh picnic ham can also be used for slow-cooking, braising, and stewing, but not recommended for grilling or frying as it tends to be on the tougher side. Slow-cooking makes it tender and succulent, with the melt-in-your-mouth meat beautifully falling off the bone.
See Also: 6 Foods You’ve Probably Made, Seen, Or Eaten In Quarantine