Pork Cuts

You can prepare perfect pork every time by knowing the characteristics of each cut.

A side of pork is made up of four main wholesale areas, called PRIMALS. They are the loin, the leg, the shoulder and the belly. Each has its own characteristics.

Click here to download a pdf version of the Pork Cuts chart.


Loin
This is the most tender and lean and yields the premium-priced pork cuts. It is divided in three sections: the rib (closest to the shoulder), the centre and the sirloin. Cuts from the loin are roasts, chops, cutlets, tenderloins, back ribs, country-style ribs, cubes and strips. The roasts and chops may be bone-in or boneless. Loin cuts are usually cooked by dry heat* cooking methods. Pork loins can be purchased whole, providing cost savings for buying bulk, and can be cut into smaller pieces (e.g. roasts, chops, strips, cubes) and frozen for future use.

Leg
The leg cut is very lean and more economical than the loin. The leg may be sold as a whole roast, or a half, or it may be sectioned into three muscle cuts – the inside, outside and leg tip. Leg cuts may be bone-in or boneless. Hams are cured and smoked legs of pork. Leg cuts can be cooked by dry heat*, but are best suited to moist heat* cooking methods.

Shoulder
This cut is the most economical retail cut. It is divided into two sections – the picnic and the blade. The cuts may be either bone-in or boneless and may be made into roasts, chops, steaks, cubes or ground pork. Moist heat* produces excellent results but dry heat* cooking can be used as well.

Belly
The belly provides side ribs, bacon and other processed pork products.

 

Dry Heat Versus Moist–What’s the Difference?

There are two different methods for cooking pork – dry heat and moist heat.
Cooking tip: To retain pork’s juiciness, always use tongs rather than a fork for turning.

DRY heat – to cook uncovered without the addition of liquid.
This method is most suitable for loin cuts, although some leg and shoulder cuts can also be prepared using dry heat. Dry heat methods include:

Roasting – to cook in the oven, in an uncovered pan, surrounded by dry heat

How to do it:
• Preheat oven to recommended roasting temperature
• Roast larger cuts of pork (over 2 lb/1 kg) at 325°F (160°C)
• Roast smaller cuts of pork (under 2 lb/1 kg) at 350°F (180°C)
• Do not cover
• Do not add liquid
• Roast to an internal temperature of 155–160°F (68–71°C)
• Remove from oven, tent loosely with foil and let rest 5–10 minutes before slicing. This allows the meat to reabsorb juices.
Note: Roast pork tenderloin at 375°F (190°C) for 30–35 minutes total time or to an internal temperature of 155°F (68°). Tent with foil; let rest 5 minutes.
Cuts for Roasting – Loin Roasts, Crown Roasts, Racks of Pork, Pork Tenderloin

Broiling – to cook directly under intense, dry heat

How to do it:
• Cook 3–5” (8–12 cm) from heat source
• Cook using high heat until meat surface is golden brown and slightly “springy” to the touch
Cuts for Broiling – Chops, Steaks, Kabobs, Satays, Ribs

Pan-frying/Sautéing – to cook quickly in a small amount of oil over direct heat in an open pan or skillet

How to do it:
• Use a medium-high temperature
• Cook to medium. Ground pork and sausages should be cooked to well done.
Cuts for Pan-frying – Chops/Steaks, Burgers, Cutlets/Schnitzel, Scaloppini, Tenderloin Medallions, Cubes, Sausage

Stir-frying – to cook small pieces of meat quickly in a small amount of oil over high heat, stirring and tossing constantly
Cuts for Stir-frying – Strips, Cubes, Ground Pork

Grilling – to cook directly over intense heat

How to do it:

• Preheat barbecue on high
• Reduce heat to medium or low temperature to cook Steaks/Chops. Grill over medium heat; turn once.

Roasts
Preheat barbecue. Turn off heat on one side and reduce heat on other side. Place roast on the “off heat” side, directly on the grill or in a pan. Close cover and cook to 155°F (68°C) on a meat thermometer.

Ribs
Direct Heat: Grill over medium to low heat; turn using long-handled tongs and baste often, about 1 1/2 hours. Indirect Heat: Heat barbecue to about 250°F (130°C), turn off one side and place ribs on the “off-heat” side. If using barbecue sauce start basting after 30 minutes, and continue until ribs are cooked and tender, between 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 hours total. Turn ribs every 20 minutes or so. If using a rub, apply before you start grilling.

MOIST heat – to cook in a covered pan with added liquid or steam. This is an excellent method for leg and shoulder cuts.

Moist heat methods include:

Braising/Pot Roasting – to cook in a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan, either in the oven or on the stove-top
• For both large cuts (roasts, ribs) and smaller cuts (chops and cubes)

How to do it:
• Brown meat first
• Add a small amount of liquid
• Cover and simmer over low heat or in the oven approx. 30–35 min per lb/0.5 kg
Cuts for braising/pot roasting – cubes, chops, leg and shoulder roasts

Stewing – to cook in a moderate amount of liquid by simmering

How to do it:
• Brown meat first
• Add liquid to cover
• Cover and simmer over low heat or in the oven approx. 30–35 min per lb/0.5 kg
Cuts for stewing – cubes

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