Nearly 40% of the world’s meat production is pork, which makes it a popular choice for meat lovers. We’re going to walk through the different cuts of pork and how to cook each one to absolute mouthwatering perfection.
Purchasing a whole or half share of pork will provide you with the cuts below, ready and in your freezer to enjoy whenever you wish! You’ll save on trips to the grocery store and always know what is in stock in your own fridge to easily prepare your meals in advance.
By purchasing a pork share, you’re supporting local ranchers and businesses. We like to know that our meat is humanely raised, locally processed, and as fresh as it can be.
Let’s dive in and learn more about the different pork cuts you will receive with your pork share purchase!
A leg roast is commonly known as ham, a popular holiday meal or favorite lunch meat. It’s important to remember that all ham is pork, but not all pork is ham. Ham is only found in this type of cut. This cut comes from the rear leg of a pig, consisting of a good amount of meat with a layer of fat and some muscle.
The best way to prepare a leg is to braise it or cook in a roast. We recommend you let it sit after cooking to allow the juices to settle, keeping it nice and moist. You can read our blog Ham, ham roast and pork roast – what’s the difference? to learn more about ham vs pork.
A ham hock is a pork knuckle, which is the joint that attaches the pig’s foot to its leg. It consists of mostly skin, tendons, and ligaments so it requires thorough cooking for the meat to become palatable. This may not be your first choice when it comes to pork cuts, but it can be a decadent piece with lots of flavor!
The best way to cook this cut is through stewing or braising, adding it to soups, stews, and pies, or with flavorful sauces. You’ll want to cook at a low temperature for a long period of time, immersed in some sort of broth or sauce, which is why it’s great in stew. Try our delicious Pea and Ham Hock Soup if you’re looking for a recipe to try out!
One of the most popular cuts of pork, chops are a loin cut taken near a pig’s spine and are usually a rib or part of a vertebra. Pork chops are a leaner cut of meat and can vary in the thickness of the chop.
We asked our expert, Mike, to weigh in on bone-in or boneless pork chops. ”Bone-in pork chops have the rib bone and some tenderloin meat too. Bone-in chops are flavorful and rich with extra fat which keeps them from drying out. With the bone in, they take longer to cook. I like a bone to chew on, so I do like to eat bone-in chops.
For convenience – boneless pork chops are the way to go. They’re super lean and have less fat, so they can be less flavorful, and you have to cook them quick on the grill, seared in a pan or broiled so they don’t dry out.”
They can be roasted, grilled, or pan-fried and taste great in various recipes. We usually like to let the chop be the star of the meal, paring it with vegetables, mashed potatoes, or another delicious side. They’re extremely versatile and great in many recipes. Try Heart Rock Herb and Spice Co.’s Polish-German blend that marries perfectly with pork!
A sparerib comes from the breastbone, belly, and behind the shoulder. Compared to baby back ribs, they are larger and meatier, with more bone and more fat on the ribs. They also tend to have more flavor.
The most popular way to cook a sparerib is barbecued, but they can also be slow cooked in a crock pot or oven. Slow cooking in a marinade makes for fall-off-the-bone tender ribs, with lots of moisture! Oven-cooked ribs give the same effect but can be crispier with caramelized edges. Try it with our sweet-and-sour BBQ sauce!
Baby back rib
Baby back ribs are smaller than spareribs and cut from the top of the rib cage near the spine and the spareribs below the loin muscle. They are shorter, curved, and sometimes meatier than spareribs.
Baby back ribs can be smoked, grilled, or baked in an oven as well. You can prepare them the same ways as spareribs, just be sure to pay attention to temperature and time, as they are smaller ribs. Have we talked too much about pork ribs? Visit The Great Rib Controversy: Beef vs Pork to learn all about different rib cuts.
Baby back ribs have also inspired a hit commercial jingle sung by Willie McCoy. We’ve heard in our heads the entire time we’ve been writing this blog. You’re welcome.
A pork shoulder, or a picnic shoulder, is from the thin end of a pig’s shoulder, just above the front leg. It typically comes with skin and a layer of fat. This meat is tender, falls apart, and is bursting with flavor. This cut is great for pulled pork, chili, or a stand-alone roast.
The best way to cook pork shoulder is roast, braised, or in a stew. Slow and low is your best option when cooking this cut. Try out our favorite pork shoulder roast recipe and add Heart Rock Herb and Spice Co’s Tahoe Seasoning Salt for a little extra something!
Everyone loves a good sausage! Pork sausage is usually ground from the pig’s shoulder, belly, or leg. You can use it for delicious breakfast sausages or spice it up for a savory appetizer or dinner. The best part is, there are many different recipes out there with different variations of spices and seasonings so you can make this dish in an abundance of ways.
Learning about the different types of pork cuts, where they come from, and what they consist of will make you a better chef and more well-informed when it comes to your meat purchases. Pork is a delectable meat that can be used in many ways and recipes. Master the art of cooking your favorite cuts or try something new that you will be sure to love.