Learn Where The Cuts of Pork Come From
Learning where the portions of pork come from is one of the most valuable skills you can acquire as a BBQ Chief. It can break you from creating mastery food to going belly up. So the crew at BBQ Chief are going to provide our knowledge and hone your skills beyond little chief to master chief.
Despite what its name might indicate, the pork butt, also called the Boston butt, comes from the upper shoulder of the hog. Consisting of parts of the neck, shoulder blade, and upper arm, the pork butt is a moderately tough cut of pork with a good deal of connective tissue. Pork butt can be roasted or cut into steaks, but it is also well-suited for braising and stewing or for making ground pork or sausages.
Just above the Boston butt is a section of fat called the clear plate or fatback, which can be used for making lard, salt pork, or added to sausage or ground pork.
Pork Shoulder (Picnic Shoulder)
Another tough cut, the pork shoulder (also called the picnic shoulder) is frequently cured or smoked. Pork shoulder is also used for making ground pork or sausage meat. The pork shoulder is sometimes roasted, but it's not really ideal for this.
Hogs are bred to have extra long loins so they can have up to 17 ribs, unlike beef and lamb which have 13. The entire pork loin can be roasted or it can be cut into individual chops or cutlets. The tenderloin is taken from the rear of the pork loin and baby-back ribs come from the upper ribcage area of the loin. Above the loin is another section of fatback which can be used for making lard, salt pork, or added to sausage or ground pork.
The back leg of the hog is where we get fresh, smoked, or cured hams. Serrano ham and prosciutto are made from hams that are cured, smoked, and then air-dried. Fresh hams are usually roasted, but they can be cut into ham steaks as well.
The ham hock, which is used extensively in southern U.S. cuisine, is taken from the joint at the shank end of the ham where it joins the foot. The ham hock is often braised with collards or other greens.
Pork side (Pork Belly)
The pork side (also called the pork belly) is where pancetta and bacon come from. Pork belly meat can also be rolled and roasted or even cut into steaks.
Pork Spare Ribs
Taken from the belly side of the ribs where they join the breastbone, pork spareribs are often prepared by grilling very slowly over low temperatures. Pork spareribs can also be braised or cooked in a crock pot.
Pork Jowl (Head)
The pork jowl is mostly used in making sausages, although it can also be cured and made into bacon. In Italian cooking, cured pork jowl is referred to as guanciale.
Pork Foot (Trott)
High in collagen, pork feet are excellent sources of gelatin and are frequently added to soups and stews. Long, slow simmering breaks down the tough connective tissues in the pork foot and tenderizes the meat. Pork feet can also be cured, smoked, or even pickled.
And remember, respect the animal your going to cook by cooking it right. Don't ever overcook it. Make him proud, so get it right chief!