Discover the cuts of pork that offer you the best value for money and are too delicious to be overlooked.
The versatile pig yields an array of meat but while we can enjoy gloriously crispy bacon and well-charred sausages for reasonable prices, cuts like tenderloin can be expensive. They're also sometimes difficult to cook correctly - despite the animal being quite fatty on the whole, pork has a tendency to dry out if not treated with care.
While belly pork has seen a renaissance recently the allure of a good slab of crispy crackling and layers of soft tender meat has edged its price up.There are still plenty of parts of the animal available for reasonable prices however and whatever the cut, look for meat that's firm to the touch and rosy pink in colour. It should have no excess moisture and be smooth and soft in uncooked texture.
A staple of American diner-style cooking, and popular in Chinese cuisine, spare ribs come from the upper part of the shoulder. They're sweet and succulent thanks to a good amount of marbled fat. Try them cooked as a rack of ribs (depending on the size of the pig, they tend to come in rows of four or five), split into individual ribs, slow-cooked, or flash-grilled on a barbecue.
Cook this rear-end cut fast and furiously by pan-frying or grilling as steak, or give them the slow-cooker treatment by using them in a hotpot.
Coming from the long underside of the pig, this cut can be slow-roasted as a slab, rolled, tied and stuffed, or cut into chunks and used in pies and stews. If you want to leave it whole to enjoy a huge piece of crispy crackling, make sure you score the skin well and ensure it's really dry - this should result in a brilliant crunch to contrast with beautiful soft meat.
The hand and spring is the upper part of the pig's foreleg. It is usually sold boned and rolled as a joint. It can be braised to ensure a really tender finish, but if you want crackling, ask the butcher to skin the pork before rolling and cook it separately in a hot oven until crisp. You can also stew chunks of this cut.
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Taken from either side of the pig's face, this sweet slab of meat should be stewed until really tender.
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This cut has a lot of muscles and is good for sausages, pies and stews. Alternatively, you can pan-fry it in steaks or roast whole fillets.
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Pork & ham pie
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