Pork - suitable cooking methods

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Main cuts
Illustrations of cuts normally available at a British butcher's shop
Bacon and gammon cuts normally available at a British butcher's shop

Cooking methods by cut

All joints can be roasted and the individual cuts from them grilled or fried. In addition, the forequarter cuts can be used for casseroles, stews and pies.

  • Neck end - a large economical roasting joint, particularly good when boned, stuffed and rolled. Often divided into blade and spare rib. These two smaller cuts can also be roasted, braised or stewed. Spare rib pork makes the best filling for pies. Spare rib chops are suitable for braising, grilling or frying.
  • Hand and spring - a large roasting joint, often divided into the smaller cuts, hand and shank. As well as being suitable for roasting, hand and shank can be used for casseroles and stews.
  • Belly - this is a long, this cut with streaks of fat and lean. Stuffed thick end of belly makes an economical roast. Because belly is sometimes rather fatty, it is better used sliced for grilling and frying, rather than for braising and stewing.
  • Leg - can be cut into four or more succulent and popular roasting joints, often divided into fillet end and knuckle end. The fillet end (top of the leg) is the prime roasting joint, which can be boned and stuffed. It is sometimes sliced into steaks for grilling and frying. The feet (trotters) are usually salted and boiled, or used to make brawn.
  • Tenderloin - A tender, lean cut, found underneath the back bone of the loin in the same position as beef fillet. It is sometimes called pork fillet, not to be confused with the fillet end of the leg. Most often served sliced or cubed for frying, or coated with a sauce. Can be stuffed and rolled for roasting.

Bacon and Gammon

There can be some confusion over what is bacon, and what is ham and gammon. Gammon is the leg of the bacon pig (think 'jambe' the French word for leg), cured on the side of bacon. When cooked, and served cold, it becomes ham. For special hams, eg York, Bradenham, the leg of the pig is cured and cooked separately, to individual producers' recipes. These hams are sold whole or in slices.

  • Middle gammon - a lean, meaty cut for boiling, braising, roasting or baking. This is a prime joint and a convenient size for a small party. Gammon rashers or steaks are usually cut from this joint about 1cm thick, They are excellent grilled or fried.
  • Gammon hock - this makes really succulent joints with plenty of lean, which is good for a large party. Boil, braise or bake the joint and garnish and glaze for a special meal.
  • Corner gammon - this is a small, triangular cut off the gammon. It is often an economical buy and can be boiled and served hot, with parsley sauce or cold for sandwiches.
  • Prime collar - This cut makes an excellent joint boiled or braised. The collar joint is also sliced into rashers. As a joint it needs to be well soaked before cooking.
  • Prime forehock - is a good joint for casseroling, or it can be cubed for use in a stew. The cut has a good mixture of lean and fat and is, therefore, suitable for mincing.
  • Long back (rashers) - these are lean and are best cut fairly thinly and used for frying or grilling. Thick slices may be cubed for casseroles, flans or pies.
  • Middle or throughcut (rashers) - these are the back and streaky cuts which have been cut together, giving a large double rasher with a good proportion of lean and fat - an economical buy. Use for grilling or have a nice piece of middle cut rolled and use for boiling or baking - delicious used as a stuffed joint. This is sometimes called Ayrshire roll.
  • Prime streaky (rashers) - Combines lean and fat and is good for grilling or frying. Use streaky bacon to line pâté dishes, chopped for casseroles, soups and rice dishes. A joint of streaky bacon is good boiled and pressed to eat cold. Streaky bacon is the cheaper cut and gives good value for money.
  • Prime back (rashers and chops) - usually sold as rashers or chops. It is lean and best cut thinly for rashers which are usually grilled or fried. Bacon chops can be fried, grilled or baked. Alternatively, buy a thick piece for boiling or braising.