Know your cuts
Understanding a little about the composition of porc meat will help you choose the best method of cooking a particular cut – as this will make all the difference to its flavour and tenderness.
Click on a cut of meat to find out more and view recipes.
Slightly larger and with more meat than other cuts of ribs, spare ribs are best prepared slow-cooked on a low heat until tender and juicy. Marinades can offer the perfect opportunity to put your stamp on meals, but remember to keep braising the ribs whilst cooking to keep them moist.
Very easy to prepare, this flavoursome cut has a lovely layer of fat to keep it moist during cooking and is perfect for a traditional roast – rub the shoulder with sea salt for the most amazing crackling. This versatile cut is also perfect for steaks, diced, minced or, cooked slowly, it’s ideal for pulled porc.
Some say the most economical cut, the neck – also known as the collar – is ideal for soups, stocks and stews. Well-muscled but still really tasty, the neck produces a wonderfully succulent texture. For the best roasting results, it should be cooked slow and low. With a fine marbling of fat, this lesser known cut is packed full of flavour.
Blade steaks come from near the shoulder and contain the blade bone. Thanks to being rich in marbling, they are very flavoursome and remain tender throughout cooking. This cut is ideal for those in a hurry – quickly braise, grill or sauté the porc, but be careful not to overcook the meat.
The hand section is found below the shoulder, right on the bone. It can be cured like ham or used in sausages. A very moist cut, the hand is perfect for roasting; when slow-cooked, the meat is very tender and falls straight off the bone.
This wonderful piece of boneless porc is perfect for roasting and creates a meal fit for any special occasion. Typically, the loin is rolled up and tied with string to ensure overall evenness when cooking. The tenderloin cut is renowned for being the most expensive yet tender part of the pig.
From bacon to sausages and spare ribs, the belly is the most fruitful part of the pig and provides some of the most popular cuts of porc. It is a fattier cut and can be diced for frying, used for steaks and rolled up for roasting.
This cut comes from the back leg of the pig and although usually made into hams, its leanness makes it perfect for roasting. It’s one of the most expensive cuts of porc but produces great crackling!
Although slightly daunting, cooking the pig’s head can provide many delicious dishes. The cheeks, snout and tongue are easy to prepare and taste delicious in burgers, pâtés and soups. Cheeks are particularly good in a slow braise, ears can be fried or baked after boiling and the head can simply be boiled for a flavoursome stock.
An inexpensive cut, the hock comes from the pig’s leg just below the knee. It can be bought both smoked and unsmoked and is ideal for broths, stews and soups. Being a tougher piece of meat, it is best slow cooked on a low heat.
Although not everyone’s first choice, pig trotters can be a delicious meal and are an excellent way to shake things up in the kitchen. Quick and simple to cook, both the font and hind trotters are perfect for slow boiling until the meat is tender. Remember to soak the trotters in cold water first.