A quick guide to understanding the different pork cuts and how to use them
This is a great little guide from Jamie Oliver on knowing your pork cuts.
It can be very confusing with all the names for cuts.
Plus, different countries use different names.
When you read some recipes, it can be confusing as they use slightly different names for the same cut.
Here’s Jamie Oliver’s guide to help you can get a grip on some of the confusing cuts to choose from.
Choosing the best pork to buy
I’m on the same page as Jamie when it comes to buying pork… or any other meat.
Always buy high-welfare pork; free-range or organic.
This means the animal has led a happy and healthy life reared outdoors.
And not intensively farmed.
Knowing your pork cuts
Pork belly vs pork shoulder
Rib chop vs loin chop?
And let’s not forget some of the cheaper cuts which are fantastic to use in cooking.
Jamie’s pork cut guide
The meat from the hard-working shoulder is a super-versatile cut.
Because it can either be minced or diced for cooking slowly in stews or kept on the bone and slow-roasted until tender and falling apart.
The fillet from the top of the shoulder is just tender enough to be cut into steaks for grilling or barbecuing.
The best way to cook a shoulder is slow and low – simply wrap it in a double layer of tin foil (to lock in the moisture) and pop it in the oven at 150ºC/300ºF/gas 2.
Cook for 4 to 5 hours, or until you get melt-in-your-mouth, beautifully tender meat.
Pork loin is a classic roasting joint.
It can either be cooked in one piece with the bone or deboned, stuffed and rolled.
You can keep the skin on and crisp it up to get lovely crackling, or remove the skin and marinate the whole loin.
So, for best results, be sure to rest the meat before carving.
Chops that are cut from the loin are ideal for pan-roasting and grilling.
If the fillet is left inside the pig when the chops are cut, you’ll get T-bone loin chops.
The fillet or tenderloin is a long thin muscle, found on the inside of the ribcage and is a part of the loin cut.
It can be cooked whole, cut into small round medallions and pan-fried, or cut into 1cm slices and bashed into thin escalopes.
Pork fillet is the leanest of all cuts, so it’s the healthiest choice.
It’s best to marinate or tenderise the fillet, then cook it quickly at a high temperature until slightly blushing pink in the middle.
Cooking it for too long will dry the meat out – and always remember to rest the fillet.
4. Rib chop
Chops from the ribs are often grilled or barbecued.
When a few chops are kept together in one piece they make a brilliant rib roast.
They are best cooked in a pan, on a grill or on the barbecue – use a high heat and turn the meat regularly so it builds up a beautiful gnarly crust and the fat renders down for juicy, succulent results.
5. Chump chop
A really meaty chop, cut from the rump of the pig, it can be bought either on or off the bone.
Chump is a cheap cut with delicious flavour and texture.
It’s versatile and easy to cook, either fried, grilled or barbecued.
A leg is usually roasted whole, but it can also be boned and cut into smaller roasting joints, or thinly sliced to make steaks called escalopes.
Pork legs are low in fat and can be quite dry when slow-roasted.
Many are cured to make ham.
Cooking the meat on the bone will help to keep it moist and produce lovely juices that you can use for gravy.
Pork escalopes should be flash-fried or grilled quickly to prevent them from drying out.
Try marinating or bashing the meat out with a rolling pin to tenderise it.
Pork belly is a really fatty but incredibly tender cut of meat.
And is delicious when slow-roasted… or used as bacon.
Pork belly works really well paired with aromatic flavours and Asian spices.
It can be cooked slowly at a low temperature for soft meat that melts in the mouth.
Or it can be sliced and crisped up in a hot pan.
It can also be roasted or stewed, but make sure you skim away some of the fat.
The cheek is a fatty, full-flavoured muscle with a great gelatinous texture, ideal for mincing or slow-cooking.
Pork cheek is such an underrated cut and is really cheap to buy.
Chop and cook it slowly in a stew or ragù, or keep whole and braise in a rich and sticky sauce.
Pig’s liver is quite strong in flavour compared to lamb, calf and chicken livers.
It’s often used to make coarse country patés with plenty of garlic, black pepper and herbs.
Pork skin can be trimmed away from the flesh, salted and roasted to make crunchy pork scratchings.
For fuss-free crackling, cook the skin separately from the meat.
Score the crackling to help distribute the heat.
Cook the crackling on a flat baking tray in a very hot oven or under a hot grill with plenty of sea salt.
For pork recipes, visit here