Pork is one of those meats that arouses a wide range of emotions and also reveals a wide variety of personal tastes. It is therefore absolutely essential to get the animal right first before we start to look at the various cuts.We would always advocate the use of outside reared pigs as a starting point and in an ideal world the pigs would be classified as free range. We are in the fortunate position in the North East of Scotland in that there are very few intensively reared pig units, and those that do exist, mainly supply supermarkets.Furthermore, where available, preference should be given to using rare breeds of pork. The reasons for this are two fold; the first is that breeds such as Gloucester Old Spot and Tamworths produce a richer and more flavoursome meat with a good cover of fat. The second reason is that one of the best way of preserving these great breeds of pig is by giving them a reason to be bred. By making them more popular in butcher shops and other outlets, it will lead to a greater preservation of the breeds.So what cuts should we be looking at?
The shoulder joints are used for the more economical dishes. The most common is a rolled roasting joint but it is also used for dicing and for making into leaner pork sausages.
The belly is quite a fatty cut but absolutely delicious as a result! Traditionally the belly was made into sausages and mince, however in recent years it has been mixed with shoulder to make it leaner and therefore conform with modern tastes. These days, the belly is now cut into strips and used as slow roasting pieces. The rib bones in the belly are known as spare ribs and are great for BBQ’s or finger food.
The pork loin is where we get what is considered the best roasting joint but it is also where we cut the chops from and also the pork fillet (sometimes known as tenderloin).
The pork leg again is fairly diverse and is used to cut leg steaks as well as both bone in and rolled joints.