What Food Each Part of a Pig Makes (and their cuts)

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What Food Each Part of a Pig Makes

The pig has been important to mankind for thousands of years. They have been a great source of food, and you can east just about the whole pig.

The fat of pork is one of the best, and it is used in sausages and pates. Bacon is made from the belly. Many people do not see the pig as a noble creature, but once you eat a beautiful pork sausage or pates, you may change your mind.

This section is going to go over the basic parts of the pig, and what they can be used for. There is no limit to the importance of pork in the foods I create. Never waste any part of the animal. Part of cooking is doing the animal justice, as it must be killed in order to create the food that we eat. Now on to the basic parts of the pig…

Belly

Pork Belly

Pork Belly

Pork belly is high in fat and has a rich flavor. It is often slowly cooked (or roasted in a roaster oven), then finished at high heat to crisp the skin and fat. Pork belly is used for applications such as bacon, panchetta, or added to sausage. Pork belly is best sliced with a sharp Japanese knife.

Ribs

Pork Ribs

Pork Ribs

Baby back ribs are where the ribs attach to the belly. Spare ribs are attached to the diaphragm(skirt steak) Ribs are best when cooked low and slow. They can be used for barbeque by smoking them. You can also braise or slow roast them for other applications. Pork ribs are best sliced with the best boning and fillet knife.

Related reading: 20 best grilling accessories for BBQ

Tenderloin

Pork Tenderloin

Pork Tenderloin

The tenderloin is drifting down from the ribs. The muscle is not used much so it is naturally very tender. There is a low heat content so it should be cooked with a high heat method and not cooked for too long. It is also good to cut into chunks and use in a pate for texture and appearance.

Pork tenderloin tastes great when you cook it with a sous vide machine.

Loin

Pork Loin

Pork Loin

The loin is located above the ribs. It is covered with a large layer of backfat. The loin is good roasted or braised.

Back fat

Pork Back Fat

Pork Back Fat

Nice backfat is key in many sausages and pates. This rich fat is added the the meat when it is ground to make the resulting product tender and flavorful.

Shoulder Butt

Pork Shoulder Butt

Pork Shoulder Butt

Very nice fat marble. Used for sausage and BBQ pork. This should be slow cooked and results in tender and flavorful meat.

Picnic Ham

Pork Picnic Ham

Pork Picnic Ham

This is the cut below the shoulder, and should be treated in a similar way.

Ham

Pork Rear

Pork Rear

The rear of the pig. This is what is used for Jamon or Proscuitto. The tail between them can also be braised for a nice effect. We love using the best food dehydrator to dry some pork rear into proscuitto.

Hock

Pork Hock

Pork Hock

Below the ham. Can be smoked and used to season. Works well braised.

Feet (Trotters)

Pork Feet Trotters

Pork Feet Trotters

Can be cleaned and stuffed with a farce or ground meat then braised. It is mostly bone so it is also very nice in your stocks.

Jowl

Pork Jowl

Pork Jowl

This can be cured like proscuitto to make a nice seasoning tool called Guanciale.

Ears

Pork Ears

Pork Ears

You can braise the ears then julienne them for garnish in pates. You can also crisp them and use them for a nice texture in salads.

Now don’t you just want to go buy a whole hog and throw a huge party? I challenge you to get each of these cuts and try cooking them in different ways. The noble swine is always provides an amazing meal!

While you’re here, be sure to check out our kitchen product reviews!

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