Pork is one of the most commonly eaten meats worldwide, and its use in the kitchen dates back over 7,000 years. Meat from pork is considered to be red meat, even if it does not look like it. The meat in itself is lean and healthy, but is unfairly associated with fatty dishes. Most of the carcass of a pig is used to produce fresh meat.
1. PORK COLLAR/NECK FILLET
2. PORK CHOPS, SIRLOIN, BABY BACK RIBS, LARD
3. LEG OF PORK/HAM
4. PORK KNUCKLE
5. PORK BELLY (BACON), SPARERIBS – THIN
7. SHOULDER OF PORK, SPARERIBS – THICK
This wonderfully marbled meat can be cooked and enjoyed in many ways: Whole roast, roasted or grilled in slices (with or without the bone) or shredded in casseroles and woks.
HOW TO COOK NECK FILLET OF PORK
Works well on thedue to the high level of fat. Do not add oil to the marinade. Sweet and sour are nice complimentary tastes, such as orange, plum, apple, ginger, tamarind etc.
This cut is also suitable as a raw material for Pulled Pork (see), cooked for – say – 8 hours at a temperature below boiling point (add the spices and put it in the oven in the morning and it will be ready to be served by the time your guests arrive in the evening).
This cut is the same meat as the pork sirloin, but cut in slices and with the bone remaining. A nice pork chop is tender and tasty and can be used for most purposes. Most common is to simply fry the chops in a pan.
HOW TO COOK PORK CHOPS
Tasty, marbled chops can simply be fried the way they are. If the meat is lean, breading them can add some fat and flavor.
Cut slits in the strip of fat to make the chops maintain their shape even when cooked. Keep in mind that the meat is lean and easily dries out, even when the strip of fat remains.
For an appetizing, seared surface, rub a little oil (not butter) on the chop and fry in a dry, pre-heated pan.
Preferably serve with something sweet, sour and fruity, such as apples in any shape or form.
The row of chops with the bone removed is called pork sirloin. The meat is lean and can be handled in roughly the same way as the tenderloin/fillet of pork. The pork sirloin retains more of its moisture when roasted whole in the oven.
HOW TO COOK PORK SIRLOIN
Sear it for a tasty surface, let it rest after cooking and slice immediately before serving. Or fry it in slices – but there is a risk that the result will be dry and uninspiring.
Lard comes from the white fat deposits found in pigs. The fat from the back is quite solid and butchered and sold in chunks. Fat from the pigs abdomen is softer. It is often melted and strained to achieve a smooth, buttery consistency suitable for cooking and as a spread on bread.
Lard consists of about 40 percent saturated fat, which is why it has been considered unhealthy. But attitudes towards these kinds of fats are changing drastically. Lard actually contains less saturated fat, more unsaturated fat and less cholesterol than butter.
HOW TO COOK LARD
Lard is not something you cook, it is something you cook with. The fat from pork brings out the best in other ingredients in your food, in more ways than one:
Fry and deep fry in lard. It can take high temperatures and is easy to handle in a hot skillet. You won’t risk the taste of burnt butter and your food – for example chicken with the skin still on it – turns crisp and tasty on the outside. Lard is suitable for deep frying for the same reasons, it is not smoky and puts a lovely crisp on your food.
Fry your vegetables in lard. Fat from pork and fatty birds (plus salt) is just the right thing to take your vegetables to the next level.
Add lard to lean meat, poultry and game to make it tastier. Insert strips of lard into the meat to compensate for absence of marbling. There are “needles” designed for this purpose. Lean meat in, for example, a steak can be covered with thin layers of lard kept in place with string.
A cut that’s consists of the backbones left over when cutting out a boneless cutlet row. “Baby” refers to the size of the ribs, not the age of the animal.
HOW TO COOK BABY BACK RIBS
As the meat on the baby back ribs is sometimes less tender than other, similar pieces, it is a good idea to boil the entire piece in stock before grilling. Taste-wise, you can generally treat them as spare ribs.
This tasty cut is what constitutes ham – the boiled, smoked, dried kind that often ends up on a slice of bread.
HOW TO COOK LEG OF PORK
Cook it in one delicious piece in the oven. Use a thermometer. The lean meat quickly dries out if it is allowed to reach temperatures over 67°C.
A skilled butcher can divide the ham into smaller pieces: Roast beef, loin and "schnitzel piece" (inner thigh and outer thigh). Beaten and flattened out, the meat is perfect for schnitzels.
There is more meat on the pig’s front shank and this is the part that is usually – but not always – called the knuckle of pork. Some find pork knuckle uninviting, but in Germany it is a widely appreciated, especially roasted.
HOW TO COOK PORK KNUCKLE
Roast or grill – with care – the knuckle in one piece and serve it with a variety of accessories, such as sauerkraut and other charcuteries. Ideally, prepare the knuckle a day in advance and let it rest in its own juice.
Pork knuckle is suitable for everything from German to Mexican recipes and, not least, Asian seasoning. If the rind is prepared crispy (in the oven), it can also be eaten.
Split pea soup is a delicacy prepared the Swedish way using pork knuckle with the bone remaining inside.
This cut is often salted and sliced. Smoked it becomes bacon. The fat content is about 90 percent.
Pork belly is popular in China and Korea. It is also one of the base ingredients in the French “Choucroute garnie” and Germany’s “Schlachtplatte”.
HOW TO COOK PORK BELLY
Whole pieces of pork belly have a long shelf life, which means that you can invest in a larger piece of high quality for your kitchen. You then have an ingredient and taste enhancer that you can shape and use in many different ways.
Experiment with bacon, pork belly, lardon and pancetta. When French pork belly, lardon, is chopped, the pieces are called lardons. The Italian version, pancetta, is air-dried and especially tasty. Sweet, hot and sour kitchens from Asia also go well with pork belly in all its forms.
Fresh pork belly can be boiled and then grilled. Or salted and spiced and boiled. Crispy rind is a delicacy and a perfect snack. Whole roasted, crispy pork belly is a popular dish in many outstanding kitchens.
Thin spareribs come from the rear area of the chest and give the best result on the grill or in the oven.
HOW TO COOK THIN SPARERIBS
The cooking time for thin spareribs is short and the meat is not very tender. It can be pre-boiled in a tasty stock to produce wonderful, soft meat that falls apart in your mouth.
Spareribs are often sweetened and seasoned with honey, but become even better with sweet and sour seasoning. Honey, lemon and orange juice, for example.
One of the most tender and delicious parts of the pork. It is easy to slice and portion due to its even size.
HOW TO COOK PORK TENDERLOIN
Prepare pork fillet with great care, the meat is very lean and quickly turns dry and uninspiring. An internal temperature of 65°C is enough. During grilling, the fillet should initially be exposed to high heat for a short while, and then the cooking finished at a low heat.
Most cream sauces suit the mild taste of the pork fillet.
This tasty meat from the front part can be cut in a variety of different ways resulting in different steaks. All of these can be cooked tender and then quickly fried for a tasty surface. This affordable meat is also suitable for being diced for use in a wok.
HOW TO COOK SHOULDER OF PORK
The sweetness in the meat thrives with sweet and sour sauces, marinades and accessories. As a steak, the shoulder should be prepared in a moist heat.
“Pulled pork” is usually prepared from “pork butt” or "boston butt", from the upper part of the shoulder and blade. The whole piece is cooked at very low heat in a pot in the oven. The result is tender, tasty, thready meat.
Tender, dense and fat meat that absorbs richer, preferably sweet, tastes. Grill or roast in the oven and eat warm or cold.
HOW TO COOK THICK SPARERIBS
Marinade without oil and indirect heat under a lid is the preferred choice when grilling. To achieve tasty, tender meat, the spareribs can be pre-boiled in broth before they are placed on the grill.
Slow cooking on low heat produces a nice result. Round it all off with high temperature searing to achieve a crispy and tasty surface.
If you brush with a sugary glaze, it should be done when the meat is not directly exposed to heat.