HERE'S A BRIEF GUIDE TO THE PRIMAL CUTS OF A PIG:
To consistently provide delicious, award-winning pork, meticulous care is taken in raising Naiman ranch pork.
Careful selection Naiman Ranch hogs come from a cross of heritage breed, including Duroc, Chester White, and Berkshire. This combination provides ideal characteristics to raise our hogs the traditional way, such as:
Although the name is misleading, the pork butt comes from the front shoulder of the pig. It includes the neck, shoulder blade, and upper arm of the pig. The Pork Butt is a moderately tough cut of meat that is ideal for slow roasting, braising, or smoking.
Pulled pork, anyone? It’s also great for making pork sausages or ground pork.
Also, from the pork shoulder, the second part of the Picnic Shoulder comes from right below the Pork Butt. It is usually smoked or cured and is excellent for ground pork and sausages. You can roast it, but that’s not the best use for the Picnic Shoulder. This cut is typically a leaner cut than the butt and is usually left with the skin on.
The Pork Loin is where we get the tenderloin, center-cut loin, sirloin, and back ribs. You can choose to roast the entire loin, or you can cut it into pork chops or cutlets. The upper ribcage area gives us the back ribs that we all know and love. Cuts from the pork loin are the leanest and most tender of all pork cuts. Be careful to avoid overcooking any pork cut from the loin; since loin cuts are so lean, overcooking can lead to a dry eating experience.
The three sections of the pork loin are:
The back leg of the pig is where we get the Ham. When it is smoked and cured, this is where you get serrano ham and prosciutto. The entire fresh Ham is typically roasted but can be cut into ham steaks as well. The Ham is also where the ham hock, a quintessential part of Southern cuisine, comes from. Found at the joint between the shank and the Ham's end, the ham hock is usually braised with collards or other dense greens.
Want to try something new? Look up how Germans prepare pork hock called “Schweinshaxe” Tender and juicy pork knuckle wrapped in a salty and roasted-crisp skin; this is a recipe for a quintessential Oktoberfest feast. It makes for the perfect pairing with a giant stein of your favorite beer.
Moving to the bottom of the pig, you find the Pork Side. These cuts are prepared in a variety of different ways, from slow roasting to frying. Pork belly is not, as you may think, the stomach. Instead, the flesh runs on the underside (the belly) of the pig and surrounds the stomach. One long cut of meat with plenty of fat worked into the meat, which is why it is prized for curing and turning into bacon or pancetta. It can also be cooked fresh and is often seen on menus as “braised pork belly.” Follow suit at home and either cure or braise it.
The Spare Rib is located between the Loin and the Pork Side. The Spare Ribs are usually grilled low and slow to ensure they are moist and tender. Pork spare ribs are the least meaty of pork ribs but famous for the tender-chewy texture (they are the least fatty of pork ribs) they can attain with appropriately long and slow cooking. They can also be braised or cooked in a slow cooker.
Typically used for adding flavor to stocks, soups, and stews, the Pork Foot contains a lot of collagen and is a good gelatin source. The collagen can also promote hair and nail growth. Regular consumption of pig feet can also effectively prevent nutritional disorders, gastrointestinal bleeding, and hemorrhagic shock. Consumption can also improve the body’s microcirculation, preventing or alleviating coronary heart disease and ischemic encephalopathy. Slow stewing or simmering breaks down the connective tissue and makes the meat tender. Pork Foot can also be slowly smoked, cured, or pickled.