There are so many ways to eat pork. Chops, tenderloins, ribs, roasts, pulled pork, ground pork, soups, stews, and not to forget ham, bacon and pork belly.
Pork has always been referred to as the other white meat. But some would argue that is not true. Why? Read on.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), pork is classified as red meat.
The USDA, using science, says that pork is high in myoglobin compared to poultry and fish. Pork is also considered livestock and all livestock are considered red meat.
On the other hand, according to the culinary world and it’s traditions, the term “white meat” refers to meat with a pale color both before and after cooking. And pork meets that reference.
The National Pork Board, a program sponsored by the USDA (the same USDA that says pork is red meat), also reinforced this position of pork bring the other white meat.
The campaign started in the late 1980s in an effort to promote pork as a lean cut of meat alternative, and it became very popular with the slogan, “Pork. The other white meat.”
What ever position you stand on, that’s red meat or white meat, we can all agree pork meat makes for a great meal.
Cooking With Pork
When cooking with pork, it is best to cook the meat to a 165 degree internal temperature.
Also, when cooking with pork it helps to be knowledgeable about
There are two things you should know when you decide to cook with pork. These include:
- Knowing the names and differences between cuts
- Knowing the leaner cuts and tougher cuts
The leaner and more tender cuts are located at the top of the pig or it’s back, including the butt and the shoulder.
Whereas, the bottom or lower parts are tougher, fattier, and often require longer cooking times at lower temps to make them juicy and tender.
There are differences as well between cuts of pork. Such as:
- Pork loin and tenderloin
- Spare ribs – baby back ribs and St. Louis style ribs
- Pork butt and pork shoulder
- Belly and bacon
Pork Loin & Pork Tenderloin
Pork loin and pork tenderloin sound similar, but are actually different cuts of meat.
The pork loin is located on both sides of the backbone, running from the shoulder to the hind leg and it includes the tenderloin, a small part of the loin inside the ribcage.
Pork loin is the most tender and juicy part of the pig, and is also the most expensive.
A pork loin typically weighs four or five pounds, while tenderloin typically weighs about one pound.
Pork chops are also a cut of meat that come from the loin. The most common chops you see in the butcher case are from the ribs and the loin.
Rib chops are cut from the rib section of the loin and pork loin chops are cut from the center of the loin.
Spare Ribs – Baby Back Ribs & St. Louis Style Ribs
Spareribs come from the belly of the hog and are known for their full flavor. These are larger and meatier than the other types of ribs.
Back ribs or baby back ribs come from the blade and center section of the pork loin, which is known for the “finger meat” between the bones.
They are called baby back ribs because they are smaller than spareribs.
Another cut of pork ribs are the St. Louis style ribs. This cut comes directly off the picnic ham, which is just below the shoulder.
They are a squared cut of spare ribs. Making them straight and flat. And as such, they work best for any recipes that require browning in a frying pan. They can also be roasted in the oven or cooked on the barbecue grill.
Pork Butt & Pork Shoulder
Another cut of pork that is referred to as ribs are the country style ribs.
The given name for this cut of meat can be bit misleading because they aren’t really ribs at all.
This cut of meat actually comes from the shoulder of the pig and has a lot more meat on the bone than traditional ribs.
They’re a combination of higher fat and lean meat and are sold as slabs or individual servings – perfect for those who want to use a knife and fork instead of eating ribs off the bone.
Country-style pork shoulder ribs are cut from the butt, often sold boneless and ideal for pulled pork.
Pork Belly & Bacon
Pork belly is the uber-fatty and rich portion of meat cut from the belly of the pig. It’s uncured, and sold in slabs. It is typically cooked much differently from sliced bacon.
Pork belly has some meat but is mostly fat. If cooked properly, it will be tender and will melt in your mouth.
Bacon is cut from the slab of the pork belly. Bacon can also be sourced from the back, collar, shoulder, and jowls of the pig.
Bacon is sliced either thin or thick and is typically smoked.
Pork bacon is commonly salt-cured or brined. And can contain unhealthy compounds like nitrates and nitrites for color and extended shelf-life.
Bacon is typically cooked served on its own. Though it can also be used as an ingredient for enhancing recipes.
The back leg of the hog is where we get fresh, smoked, or cured hams.
Prosciutto is made from ham that had been cured, smoked, and then air-dried.
Fresh hams are usually roasted, and are cut into ham steaks as well.
Ground pork is meat from above the loin from a section called fatback which consists of the layer of subcutaneous fat under the skin of the back.
Ground pork is extremely versatile, soaking up any flavor you add to it. Common cooking methods for ground pork include grilling and sautéing.
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