Pork Cuts 101
It's almost that time when our next round of pasture-raised pigs head to the butcher. We're yet again sold out on sides but we'll have lots of pork by the cut coming to farmer's market shoppers soon and we'll be launching some fun mixed-meat boxes in the coming weeks so stay tuned!
The questions we get asked most by customers is related to cuts and butchering and that's understandable -- I'm still learning myself.
So let's break it down!
The upper shoulder cut can be made into roasts, stew meat, ground, or sausage. Sausages and ground are top sellers for us so we normally go this route.
Pulled pork baby! The lower section of the shoulder is a tougher cut so slow roasting is the name of the game. If pulled pork isn't your style this makes good ground or sausages as well.
The tenderloin, baby back ribs, and chops come from the tender back portion.
Baby Back Ribs
This is key, if you want baby back ribs you CANNOT have bone-in pork chops. But that's ok, since we're rib lovers we only ever do boneless chops (aka steaks) and customers love them.
Chops or Steaks
Although we refer to them as boneless chops they can also be called steaks.
This lean cut is also the most tender and a favourite in our household -- Be cautious not to overcook.
The back leg is generally used to make ham or you can use this meat for sausages and/or ground. Less commonly it can be used to make roasts however the key here is slow cooking it as this cut is slightly more muscular especially on pasture raised hogs given room to run.
The centrepiece of a great family dinner, hams are a popular choice for the back leg. If you aren't looking for a large ham for special occasions such as Christmas or if you're a smaller family, you can have the ham split into halves or even quarters.
Making up only 6-8% of a pig, our thick-cut double-smoked bacon is the star of the show and always first to sell-out.
If you're wanting to try your hand at smoking your own bacon or if you love a belly roast, ordering a side is the only way to get the belly cut. Since bacon is like gold around here we don't sell belly as a roast.
When we first started raising hogs, I didn't know the first thing about butchery and I never realized how popular spare ribs are. They are one of the most requested cuts at the farmer's markets. If you'd prefer, you can have this meat put toward sausage or ground.
Trotters and Pork Hocks:
The lower part of the leg below the joint including the hoof is referred to as the trotter while the portion above is called the hock. These are popular for soup as they're low on meat, high on healthy collagen and flavour.
Along with trotters and hocks, bones make wonderful broth used for making soup, ramen, and increasingly popular bone broth. My biggest tip for bone broth is using bones from non-medicated, well-raised animals... otherwise there's not much healthy about it! If you're not crazy about pork broth, try cutting it with chicken broth -- It makes a wonderful addition to help add nutrient rich collagen while adding a nice flavour. If you have a furry family member they also make a great treat.
Some make soup with the head, others make use of the jowls, if you're like my mother-in-law you're happy to have them to make headcheese. While the head is always available when you order a side we often have customers pass on them. Since we're strong advocates for making use of the whole animal, if you're not interested in taking the head not a problem, we'll offer it to a customer who'd be happy to take it off your hands.
So there you have it, while there are many more options out there for specialty cuts, that's a good breakdown of your opinions for ordering your Central Park Farms side of pork or to give you a better idea of the cuts available to you through our farm.
Please keep in mind there's only so much meat to go around on a side so if you want all the roasts and cuts you won't have much meat left over for sausages or ground. If these options are important to you, my first suggesting on the cutting block are picnic, boston butt, and/or the rear leg.
You can find more information on pork including pricing here.
Kendall ~ Boss chick behind Central Park Farms