Just as there are many cuts of steak, there are also many cuts of pork, which allows us to have a variety of different pork meats to choose from. Same as the cow, certain cuts come from certain parts of the pig, and from there we have different pork meat types. You may be aware that ham and bacon and pork chops are all from the same animal, but you may not know where the cut actually comes from on the animal and how it becomes so tasty and enjoyable. Luckily, with our article, you'll be an expert in no time.
Pork is one of the most widely consumed proteins in the world, in part due to its versatility in being able to be made into a variety of cuts. It's also very tender and juicy, making for a delicious option for many recipes.
Exploring the different pork meat types is easier than it seems, once you know what to look for.
Pork shoulder is exactly where it sounds like, it's the shoulder of the pig, but it can also be called pork butt. It's generally sold to consumers as a 5-10 pound boneless roast. You may also find a pork shoulder chop that is sold with the bones, but that is much less commonly seen. Something like this is very good for roasting, either in a crockpot with vegetables or barbecued. This is typically the type of meat used for pulled pork.
Pork loin. This is from the pig's back and is generally large, tender, and a good piece of lean meat. This is again a slow roast, something prepared in a crockpot with delicious seasonings to really help amp up the flavor. However, this meat can easily dry out, so you want to make sure not to cook too much or too high.
Pork chops. One of the most common ways to eat pork, this is something that is often found at dinnertime in many families. This cut of meat comes from the spine area, from the loin. You may find this with bone-in or boneless varieties. Some chops may come from the shoulder as well, and the main difference is that chops from the shoulder are fattier than the loin. If you find very lean pork chops, they are likely from the loin part of the pig.
Baby back ribs. Another delicious option for a variety of meals whether a special occasion or family gathering. Ribs that come off a pork loin are the baby back ribs. These are generally pretty tender since the meat is from the loin rather than the belly. There are various ways to enjoy this option.
Pork belly. Just like it sounds, this is the belly meat from the pig. Bacon is one of the more delicious cuts we get from pork belly, once it is cured, smoked, and then sliced. Of course, bacon can be prepared and served in many ways from being pan-fried to being used as a topping for salads.
Spare ribs. Unlike baby back ribs, this cut comes from the belly and makes a delicious option for grilling or smoking. They can also be cooked in the oven for a few hours and will be a wonderful option for dinner or a family gathering.
Sirloin chops are a bit different from pork chops in that they have more muscle from the leg, so they are more flavorful. They have about the same tenderness though, so you won't notice much of a difference. These will have a very different shape to them, more of an oblong, so you'll recognize them immediately in the store.
Ham. The main event at certain special occasions, this is a popular choice for many families and comes from the rear leg. Depending on where you purchase it, you may find it still has the hock still in it, which makes it great for roasting or you may find an option that does not have the hock, which is still a wonderful choice with a delicious glaze and baked in the oven. This is a very common cut and can be prepared in many ways, and then the meat can be used as sandwiches, in salads, and more.