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Pork is a very common meat in many countries, however, many people know and tend to cook the same pork cuts.
It is a shame, as practically every part of the pig can be cooked and eaten; also using most of the pig’s meat is a way of honouring its death.
Some less obvious pork cuts were historically used out of necessity, when food was scarce, for example during the war when poor people could not afford to buy premium cuts.
Though some of the less appealing parts of the pig have a wonderful flavour, and with time they have earned an honoured place among traditional recipes.
I decided to conduct some research and make a list of all the edible parts of the pig with their names in English, French and Italian. In addition, I added a brief description of how they are used with some suggestions on how to cook each pork cuts.
I hope this chart will help you to discover some interesting recipes, so you will not miss out on those delicacies. Even if some pork cuts might be at first less appealing than others.
- Ham (Eng.); Jambon (Fr.); Cosciotto, Prosciutto (It.) : because of its large dimensions, it is often used for festivities. In the Anglo-Saxon countries, it is used as a Christmas roast, while in Italy and France it is mostly used to make cooked or cured ham (Jambon, prosciutto di Parma o Culatello the part closer to the tail). That is why in Italy and France it is difficult to find it plain to roast at home, as in the Anglo-Saxon countries.
2. Hocks, shank (Eng.); Jarret (Fr.), Jambonneau , Gretti o Stinchi (It.): it is the upper part of the feet and is usually cooked slowly in a stew. It releases a lot of flavours and makes a thick broth. In some Anglo-Saxon countries, it is often sold cured or smoked.
3. Tenderloin (Eng.); Filet mignon (Fr.); Filetto (It.): This is the leanest cut of meat, it can be cooked roasted, grilled, fried or barbecued. Personally, I either cut it in slices, stir fry it and deglaze with Marsala or stuff it and cook it in the oven.
Here a recipe for tenderloin: Stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Chestnuts and Cranberries
4. Loin end roast (Eng.); Pointe (Fr.); Punta di filetto (It.): this part is not as lean as the loin and is uneven in its shape. It is often used for sausages or mince. You can use it to make: Beef Sausage Hand Pie
5. Loin (Eng.); Filet (Fr.); Sottofiletto, Nodini (It.) : it is a lean part of the pork, similar to pork chops but without the bone.
It is usually cut whole in a cylindrical shape and roasted.
It can be a very large piece of meet and can feed a crowd.
I cook it in the pressure cooker to make Pulled Pork
It cannot cook for too long as it is a very lean cut and tends to dry too much. I usually roast it with apple or pineapple.
A famous Italian recipe is Loin cooked in milk and flavoured with truffles.
You can also make a pork roast using any vegetables you have in your pantry. Here is the versatile recipe: Pork Stew with Pineapple or Whatever
6. Pork chops (Eng.); Carré de Côte (Fr.); Carre, Lonza, Braciole (It.). It is the same cut as the loin but with the bones. The chops are cut in between the bones and are usually grilled or barbecued.
7. Neck, Spare rib roast (Eng.); Échine (Fr.); Coppa, Capocollo (It.). It is a marbled meat, situated between the upper neck and the carre, loin.
In Italy is dried and cured and sold as cold meat: coppa or capocollo (see article Original French Sandwich). If raw it can be used for a roast.
8. Boston Butt (Eng.); Palette (Fr.); Paletta (It.). It is the upper part of the shoulder, a tougher cut than the shoulder. It can be cooked roasted or on the barbecue.
This piece is used to make salami, Cotechino ( traditionally eaten at New Year), Nduja and Mortadella, also called Bologna in the USA and hot dogs.
In France, it is traditionally used in the Cassoulet
9. Rib tips (Eng.); Plat de cotes (Fr.); Puntine (It.): they are the top end of the ribs, and chewier as they have more cartilage than the top ribs. Some people prefer those to the Spare ribs. They are cooked the same way as the ribs here below.
10. Spare ribs (Eng.); Travers de cote (Fr.); Costine, Puntine, Custaioli (It.): they are the continuation of chops’ bone. They are lightly marbled and full of flavour. Sometimes they are cut perpendicular to the bone Flanken-cut, but most commonly they are cut parallel to the bone, called the English-cut.
Ribs are usually cooked roasted, broiled or on a barbecue seasoned with a sweet and sour sauces.
11. Jowl (Eng.); Gorge (Fr.); Guancie, Guanciale (It.) it is relatively lean but very moist. In Italy is cured and smoked and used as bacon / pancetta to flavour dishes like for example the traditional Pasta alla Carbonara
12. Bacon (Eng.); Poitrine (Fr.); Pancetta (It.): used for breakfast in the Anglo-Saxon countries, even if cut differently depending on the country. In Italy and France is used smoked or plain to add flavour in many dishes.
13. Picnic shoulder (Eng.); Épaule (Fr.); Spalla (It.) : this cut is lightly marbled and full of flavour. Usually used for sausages and chipolatas, it is excellent roasted as the fat keeps the meat very moist. It is reasonably priced and if roasted whole can feed an army!
As it is a big cut of meat, it can be used for Christmas ham roast.
Good to know, if you live in France or Italy where the typical ham to roast is more difficult to find.
14. Head (Eng.); Tête (Fr.); Testa (It.); not everybody’s cup of tea, but when food was scarce, all parts of the pig were eaten, including ears, nose, and tongue.
It is a tradition within the Italian countryside to kill a pig in the winter and celebrate with a feast called “La maialata”.
Every part of the pig is used and nothing is wasted, not even the offal.
They are boiled in pig fat and eaten as a delicacy to those who appreciate them.
15. Feet (Eng.); Pieds (Fr.); Piedini (It.): In Italy, the pork feet are emptied and stuffed with sausage meat (Paletta) to make the classic New Year dish Cotechino. I know, I was never a fan of that but it is a tradition in Italy. If I can, I skip it!
Other pork cuts we should not forget are:
- Pork rind (Eng.); Couenne (Fr.); Cotenna (It.) : Pig skin to make cracklings, a global roasted delicacy
- The generic term Lard in English and French, Lardo in Italian is used to describe pig fat, mostly located in the upper part of the back over the loin. It has the pork rind attached and it is often mixed with the meat to make sausages and salami.
- Pig lard (Eng.), Saindoux (Fr.), Sugna o Strutto (It.): it is made by boiling the lard to separate it from the rind. The fat located inside the pig is also used; it is softer and has fewer cartilages attached. It is used for cooking and baking.
If you got inspired, you can download your free charts of pork cuts here below to bring them with you to the supermarket.
Here you can read where I buy my food on the Cote d’ Azur
And if you have a suggestion or a recipe to share, write in the comments below.
If you want to buy different cuts of meat and you don’t speak the language, find my charts with names translated into French and Italian also for cuts for lamb, beef to BBQ, and What are calamari, squid, cuttlefish, and Octopus.