Cuts of pork

Ever wonder where different cuts of pork come from? See an expert chef butcher an entire pig while explaining the different cuts of meat.

Hi, I’m James Briscione, Chef Instructor at The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.  I’m going to show you where the cuts come from and give you some ideas as to the best things to do with them.



Removing the Head

And that starts by separating the head, which is a wonderful cut. If you were ever gonna get one of these and cook them. Basically, we’re just boiling them with a whole bunch of spices and then pulling the meat away from the bones.

Pork Shoulder Cuts

Working back this way, we’re going to find that our first cut is the shoulder. My favorite for making pulled pork barbecue. So, we start in along the ribs. Got my ribs here, between the fourth rib, I’m going to cut in which should bring me right to the backside of the shoulder blade. And, I’m in a good spot there because my knife pops right through. Going to cut through and mark it right through the spine. Follow the shoulder blade right around down to the breast plate, right here and we’re going to go right through. And so, this, is actually are full shoulder.

The Hamhock

Now, if we just take the ham, this would be the hamhock here. Which is wonderful when smoked, used in cooking greens. There are a number of different applications. Long cooking here. Very tough. Tougher muscle. True for the whole shoulder.

So, these are things that are going to cook longer, slow roasting in the oven, um, barbecuing to pull or shred, or slice makes wonderful sandwiches. From here it’s just removing these bones by pulling back and sliding the knife until the piece comes off. Can save all these bones and make a wonderful pork Jus later on.

And I can find where these joints meet and I get this piece off, which can be a little tricky cause it’s kind of a funny shaped bone on my joint right there. Ok, so we’ve separated our hamhock. And we’re left now with the shoulder. The shoulders really – often you’ll find it separated into two different pieces in your grocery store. With it being split right here, this top half is known as the boston butt. And the bottom half is a picnic ham. With a little bit of hamhock bone left attached.

Pork Loin Sectioin

Into the loin section. These are the great tender cuts that are wonderful for grilling, sautéing, searing, roasting…all the great things that can be done. On the outside is the pork loin. On the inside many people’s favorite piece, right underneath the spine, is the tenderloin. And underneath the spine and scrape straight down the ribs. And this muscle goes all the way down and attaches to the hip, right here.

So, I’m going to cut all the way till we remove the tenderloin. Now that’s a wonderful easy dinner for grilling, roasting, sautéing, baking, anything, till it’s just cooked through. And wonderful easy delicious meat.

The Ham

Go ahead and separate the back, the hind leg. Also known as the ham. Now the ham can be cooked fresh but most likely you’ll find it already boiled or baked. You may find this hanging in a wonderful Italian or Spanish man’s shed. That’s going to make a beautiful dry cured ham, like prosciutto or Serrano. So this can be cured. Basically, just rubbed with salt and hung to dry. Otherwise, it’s going to be brines. You know put into a mixture of salt and sugar to partially cure it. Then baked, boiled, roasted as a cured ham. Of course we have fresh ham too which means just seasoning this with salt and pepper and throwing it right into the oven.

Center Cuts

That leaves us just with our center section of the pig. Most of you know as bacon. We’re going to cut right along the base of the loin and then straight down and along the ribs. Right through the skin which can be a little bit tough to cut. Come down till I find the edge of the ribs. Well, that’s where your piece is going to come from leaving you just the ribs.

We can cut right along here to make our spare ribs, spare ribs and then our baby back ribs come all the way up to where they attach here. Now, our final piece to take off here is going to be the whole loin.

Removing the Loin

Slicing right down the spine. So, now, we’ve peeled this back. We’ve removed from the spine. You can see some of the ribs right there and now I’m going to cut this piece of meat off. That’s our pork loin. Some of my favorites would be to cut this into small sections. And grill it, marinate it first, very simply with just olive oil, garlic, rosemary, and thyme. Slice thin medallions of it and pound them out. Grilled, roasted, seared or sautéed, all great things to do and there’s our pork loin.

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