BLACK APRON GUIDE TO... PORK

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We have put together a guide to help you with the different cuts of pork available and what cooking method each cut is best suited to.

 

Brief overview of joints, cuts and uses:

Leg: Roasting & Boiling

Loin: Roasting, Frying, Grilling

Spare rib: Roasting, BBQ, Pies

Belly: Stuffed, Roasting, Slow Cooking

Shoulder: Roasting, Pies, Sausage

Head: Brawn, Terrines      

Trotters: Grilling, Boiling, Stuffing, Slow cooking

Kidneys: Sauté, Grilling, Wrapping & Deep frying

Liver: Pates, Grilling

Terms to Note

Fresh: Pork that is form of curing, smoking, salting or brining.
Cured: Meat preserved, first by salting with a brine or dry rub and then stored until the salt has sufficiently penetrated the meat.
Smoked: Pork is normally smoked after it has been cured. Smoking does add flavour but it is a process designed to preserve the meat

 
 
 

Early in English culture we only really had pork for breakfast.  Chicken was regarded as healthy, beef and lamb expensive. Pork was considered to unhealthy to be eaten on a regular basis. for years we have been ignorant to hundreds of ways pork could be transformed into delicious meals.

Over the last ten years or so, people have become increasingly aware of how their pork is raised and the effect the life of the animal has on the final product. 

The huge improvements in modern farming and breeding systems, has resulted in pigs with a third less fat than their ancestors. A clever marketing campaign in the early 1990s brought pork to us as “the other white meat” and just like that, pork became a relatively inexpensive, delicious, versatile protein rich addition to our daily diet. 

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“Heritage Breeds” or "Rare Breed"  are terms that are being used more and more in our collective vocabulary when describing pork products, but what does it actually mean? According to The Rare Breeds Survival Trust, in order for pork to be labeled as a “Heritage Swine” or "Rare Breed", it must be a true genetic breed of pig that has had a continuous breeding population in the UK since 1925.

For most farmers, the terms are used as a general catch-all for all meat from livestock that are raised as they would have been hundreds of years ago. Animals are allowed to feed on grass and grain and are raised without artificial hormones. 

For other farmers, the terms have come to mean pigs from breeds common to the Great Britain hundreds of years ago. The idea behind the propagation of rare breeds is that they considerably more flavour than their commercial counterparts and they protect the species as a whole.  If all pigs were of one breed, a particularly nasty and widespread disease could wipe out our entire pork production industry.

 
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Look and Feel

The look and feel of a cut of pork, can give you information that simply reading the label cannot provide. When shopping for a lean cut of pork you should inspect the cut to see if the excess fat has been well trimmed around the edge and that it does not have a lot of fat running through it. However, marbling running through the meat is vital when it comes to flavour and tenderness.

Pork today is farmed much leaner these days so it is fairly easy to find cuts that are lower in fat. When shopping the flesh of the cut you are looking at should be pink with a white to grayish tint and have a firm, fine-grained texture. Meat from the loin has a tendancy to be lighter than other cuts. The meat should be firm to the touch, look moist but not slimy, and it should not have any strong smell. The fat on the outer edges should be white and without any blemishes blemish. If the fat has a yellowish colour, it is old and probably close to being spoiled. The package the cut is contained in should be cool to the touch and free of tears.

When looking at cuts such as chops and steaks, they should be sliced evenly throughout, with all the cuts in a package sliced to the same thickness.

 

 

 

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When choosing between the differnet cuts of pork there are a few things that you should consider

  • Decide how much time and effort you want to use in preparing and cooking the cut you select. Chops and steaks will take less time to cook than a roast but require more attention during the cooking process.
  • When feeding a large group, preparing and cooking a large roast may be less effort than trying to cook individual chops or steaks for each person. It also gives you time to attend to other dishes since the roast will need little attention while it is cooking. 
  • Cuts from the loin are very popular and easy to cook but are more expensive than the cuts from the shoulder, which contain more fat but are very flavourful and tender.  
  • Select the right thickness of chop for the intended use. To grill, braise or stuff, select chops 5-10cm thick, or for a quick sautéing, select chops that are no more than 1-2 cm inch thick. 
  • For extra speed, and convenience in cooking and serving, select boneless cuts, but be aware that you may sacrifice some flavour and moisture due to the absence of the bones and the boneless cuts also tend to be more expensive. 
  • Always select pork that has been inspected and approved to guarantee that the pork was processed under sanitary conditions and is free of disease.
 
 
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SHOULDER
The meat from the shoulder is probably the most used muscle, but it is full of flavour and a very versatile cut. often minced or diced for cooking slowly in stews and pies about, or slow-roasted until tender and falling off the bone. The best way to cook a shoulder is slowly at low temperatures, cook at 150ºC for 4 to 5 hours. wrapped in foil to prevent it drying out.

When selecting a shoulder, a visual inspection might prove to be difficult as you will not be able to see any of the inside area of the cut. The shoulder consists of cuts that contain a high level of fat, which provides flavor and tenderness. Roasting, braising and stewing are cooking methods used for these cuts.

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

SHOULDER
The meat from the shoulder is probably the most used muscle, but it is full of flavour and a very versatile cut. often minced or diced for cooking slowly in stews and pies about, or slow-roasted until tender and falling off the bone. The best way to cook a shoulder is slowly at low temperatures, cook at 150ºC for 4 to 5 hours. wrapped in foil to prevent it drying out.

When selecting a shoulder, a visual inspection might prove to be difficult as you will not be able to see any of the inside area of the cut. The shoulder consists of cuts that contain a high level of fat, which provides flavor and tenderness. Roasting, braising and stewing are cooking methods used for these cuts.

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

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LOIN
Pork loin is a perfect for a sunday roast. beautifully tender it doesnt take a huge amount of cooking, it can be either be cooked on the bone, or off the bone and stuffed and rolled, score the skin and salt the top before roasting, you'll get some incredible crackling. Pork chops that are cut from the loin, chops should be grilled or barbequed to render the fat properly, they also take on marinades extremely well.

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

LOIN
Pork loin is a perfect for a sunday roast. beautifully tender it doesnt take a huge amount of cooking, it can be either be cooked on the bone, or off the bone and stuffed and rolled, score the skin and salt the top before roasting, you'll get some incredible crackling. Pork chops that are cut from the loin, chops should be grilled or barbequed to render the fat properly, they also take on marinades extremely well.

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

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FILLET
The fillet also known as tenderloin is the long thin muscle that cut comes from the inside of the ribcage. It can be cooked whole, or cut into round medallions. It is quite a lean cut so should be cooked quickly at high temperatures, to prevent it drying out. Best served slightly medium or cut into rounds bashed with a rolling pin then breadcrumbed for escalops. it also takes on marinades extremely well.

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

FILLET
The fillet also known as tenderloin is the long thin muscle that cut comes from the inside of the ribcage. It can be cooked whole, or cut into round medallions. It is quite a lean cut so should be cooked quickly at high temperatures, to prevent it drying out. Best served slightly medium or cut into rounds bashed with a rolling pin then breadcrumbed for escalops. it also takes on marinades extremely well.

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

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Pork Cutlet
Pork cutlets sometimes called rib chops are an classic cut and probably the most versatile, they take marinades or dry-rubs perfect well so are usually cooked either on the barbeque or grilled. but it is at its absolute best as a 5-6 six rib roasting joint. It has a decent fat content so if regularly rotated during roasting so it gets a glorious thick crust all the way rounfd and you'll get incredible crackling from the skin as the fat renders. so next sunday get a 6 six rib joint serve with sage stuffing and apple sauce for an absolute show stopping sunday roast that will never fail to impress.

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

Pork Cutlet
Pork cutlets sometimes called rib chops are an classic cut and probably the most versatile, they take marinades or dry-rubs perfect well so are usually cooked either on the barbeque or grilled. but it is at its absolute best as a 5-6 six rib roasting joint. It has a decent fat content so if regularly rotated during roasting so it gets a glorious thick crust all the way rounfd and you'll get incredible crackling from the skin as the fat renders. so next sunday get a 6 six rib joint serve with sage stuffing and apple sauce for an absolute show stopping sunday roast that will never fail to impress.

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

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CHUMP CHOP
A great budget cut from the rear/rump of the pig, it can be sold either on or off the bone. It has great flavour. Chump chops are usually boneless and the biggest of the three types of pork chops. All chops come from the loin, so should in the same way as loin. They are also amazing braised, pre frying before adding to the liquid will caramelised the meat and add bags of flavour to the end product. It is extremely versatile and is very easy to cook, either fried, grilled or barbecued. 

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

CHUMP CHOP
A great budget cut from the rear/rump of the pig, it can be sold either on or off the bone. It has great flavour. Chump chops are usually boneless and the biggest of the three types of pork chops. All chops come from the loin, so should in the same way as loin. They are also amazing braised, pre frying before adding to the liquid will caramelised the meat and add bags of flavour to the end product. It is extremely versatile and is very easy to cook, either fried, grilled or barbecued. 

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

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LEG
Pork leg is usually used as a rosting joint, but it can also be boned and cut into smaller and thinly sliced to make steaks called escalopes. Pork legs are naturally quite low in fat so can be quite dry to cooked for a long time. butchers de-bone, cure and slice this cut to make ham. Cooking the meat on the bone will help to keep it moist. Marinating or bashing the meat out with a rolling pin to tenderise it.

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

LEG
Pork leg is usually used as a rosting joint, but it can also be boned and cut into smaller and thinly sliced to make steaks called escalopes. Pork legs are naturally quite low in fat so can be quite dry to cooked for a long time. butchers de-bone, cure and slice this cut to make ham. Cooking the meat on the bone will help to keep it moist. Marinating or bashing the meat out with a rolling pin to tenderise it

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

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BELLY
Very high fat content but a incredibly tender cut of meat, the belly is at its best when slow braised and pressed with two trays and a heavy weight, then finished in the oven until golden. It’s also used to make streaky bacon. Pork belly performs quite well when cooked low and slow. The connective tissue in the meat needs time to break down slowly, allowing the fat to render out and the meat to become tender. For best results, score the fat on the top with a knife, sprinkle with saltandpepper or your own spice rub, then sear until super crispy, it works well with fragrant herbs, flavours and spices. so is a favourite in most asian cuisines

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

BELLY
Very high fat content but a incredibly tender cut of meat, the belly is at its best when slow braised and pressed with two trays and a heavy weight, then finished in the oven until golden. It’s also used to make streaky bacon. Pork belly performs quite well when cooked low and slow. The connective tissue in the meat needs time to break down slowly, allowing the fat to render out and the meat to become tender. For best results, score the fat on the top with a knife, sprinkle with saltandpepper or your own spice rub, then sear until super crispy, it works well with fragrant herbs, flavours and spices. so is a favourite in most asian cuisines

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

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GAMMON

Gammon is sold either as a whole joint or in steaks. Gammon steaks should be treated like other animal steaks, they are usually cut thin and cooked at a high heat, to render the fat.

When preparing for a roast it should be pre-boiled, submerge in cold water and bring to the boil, throw that water away then submerge and soft boil for 20 minutes per kilo to remove any excess saltiness. 

Gammon comes either smoked or unsmoked. When gammon is smoked it is first cured with either a wet or dry cure. A dry cure is a mixture of salt and sugar is rubbed into the meat, this produces a fuller sweeter flavour, whereas wet cure is when the meat is immersed in a brine, which penetrates the meat faster than dry cure. knowing the difference is vital for picking the right preparation method and will help in deciding how to cook the pork. 

Bone-in gammon takes longer to cook and is more difficult to carve. They are usually cheaper by the kilogram, most butchers and supermarkets sell gammon joints with the bone out, rolled, tied with a string of netting , this keeps the meat together and makes it easier to cook and slice

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

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CHEEK

Pork cheeks are from exactly where you would expect them to be from, the head of the pig. it is famous for the incredible Guanciale bacon, the famed Italian bacon, is made from the cheeks and jowls of the pig.

They are relatively lean, but stay quite moist during cooking. There are very few other parts of the animal for which this is true. Again for best results cook it low and slow and the meat breaks down into nuggets of tender flesh, perfect for pulled pork. it is criminally under used cut and is usually pretty cheap as well.

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

CHEEK

Pork cheeks are from exactly where you would expect them to be from, the head of the pig. it is famous for the incredible Guanciale bacon, the famed Italian bacon, is made from the cheeks and jowls of the pig.

They are relatively lean, but stay quite moist during cooking. There are very few other parts of the animal for which this is true. Again for best results cook it low and slow and the meat breaks down into nuggets of tender flesh, perfect for pulled pork. it is criminally under used cut and is usually pretty cheap as well.

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

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LIVER
Pig’s liver is quite strong in flavour compared to other animals offal. It is often used in sausages and pates generally with plenty of spices herbs and garlic. Liver is probably the most widely available offal and is as simple to cook as a steak, but at a fraction of the price. Cook them quickly in a hot pan or gently braise them for a soft texture.

Offal needs to be very fresh especially liver, it isn't always easy to find as supermarkets are increasingly reluctant to sell the more challenging cuts. it can quickly taint and become bitter. It should look glistening and wet but not slimey. Dry, cracked or if it has a foul smell it should be avoided.

Your local butcher or mail order meat suppliers are probably your best option for finding fresh Liver.

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

LIVER
Pig’s liver is quite strong in flavour compared to other animals offal. It is often used in sausages and pates generally with plenty of spices herbs and garlic. Liver is probably the most widely available offal and is as simple to cook as a steak, but at a fraction of the price. Cook them quickly in a hot pan or gently braise them for a soft texture.

Offal needs to be very fresh especially liver, it isn't always easy to find as supermarkets are increasingly reluctant to sell the more challenging cuts. it can quickly taint and become bitter. It should look glistening and wet but not slimey. Dry, cracked or if it has a foul smell it should be avoided.

Your local butcher or mail order meat suppliers are probably your best option for finding fresh Liver.

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

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GAMMON

Gammon is sold either as a whole joint or in steaks. Gammon steaks should be treated like other animal steaks, they are usually cut thin and cooked at a high heat, to render the fat.

When preparing for a roast it should be pre-boiled, submerge in cold water and bring to the boil, throw that water away then submerge and soft boil for 20 minutes per kilo to remove any excess saltiness. 

Gammon comes either smoked or unsmoked. When gammon is smoked it is first cured with either a wet or dry cure. A dry cure is a mixture of salt and sugar is rubbed into the meat, this produces a fuller sweeter flavour, whereas wet cure is when the meat is immersed in a brine, which penetrates the meat faster than dry cure. knowing the difference is vital for picking the right preparation method and will help in deciding how to cook the pork. 

Bone-in gammon takes longer to cook and is more difficult to carve. They are usually cheaper by the kilogram, most butchers and supermarkets sell gammon joints with the bone out, rolled, tied with a string of netting , this keeps the meat together and makes it easier to cook and slice

Available from Cauldwells in Davenport

 

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Pork is a rich source of many vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Thiamine. Unlike other types of red meat, such as beef and lamb, pork is particularly rich in thiamine — one of the B vitamins that plays an essential role in various bodily functions.
  • Selenium. Pork is rich in selenium. The best sources of this essential mineral are animal-derived foods, such as meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy products (5).
  • Zinc. An important mineral, abundant in pork, zinc is essential for a healthy brain and immune system.
  • Vitamin B12. Almost exclusively found in foods of animal origin, vitamin B12 is important for blood formation and brain function. Deficiency in this vitamin may cause anemia and damage to neurons.
  • Vitamin B6. A group of several related vitamins, vitamin B6 is important for the formation of red blood cells.
  • Niacin. One of the B vitamins, niacin — or vitamin B3 — serves a variety of functions in your body and is important for growth and metabolism.
  • Phosphorus. Abundant and common in most foods, phosphorus is usually a large component of people’s diets. It’s essential for body growth and maintenance.
  • Iron. Pork contains less iron than lamb or beef. However, the absorption of meat iron (heme-iron) from your digestive tract is very efficient, and pork can be considered an outstanding source of iron.

Pork is a rich source of many vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Thiamine. Unlike other types of red meat, such as beef and lamb, pork is particularly rich in thiamine — one of the B vitamins that plays an essential role in various bodily functions.
  • Selenium. Pork is rich in selenium. The best sources of this essential mineral are animal-derived foods, such as meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy products (5).
  • Zinc. An important mineral, abundant in pork, zinc is essential for a healthy brain and immune system.
  • Vitamin B12. Almost exclusively found in foods of animal origin, vitamin B12 is important for blood formation and brain function. Deficiency in this vitamin may cause anemia and damage to neurons.
  • Vitamin B6. A group of several related vitamins, vitamin B6 is important for the formation of red blood cells.
  • Niacin. One of the B vitamins, niacin — or vitamin B3 — serves a variety of functions in your body and is important for growth and metabolism.
  • Phosphorus. Abundant and common in most foods, phosphorus is usually a large component of people’s diets. It’s essential for body growth and maintenance.
  • Iron. Pork contains less iron than lamb or beef. However, the absorption of meat iron (heme-iron) from your digestive tract is very efficient, and pork can be considered an outstanding source of iron.