Cuts of Pork: Pig Diagram and Pork Chart

  • 01 of 09

    Cuts of Pork

    Cuts of Pork

    Pork is divided into large sections called primal cuts, which you can see illustrated in the pig diagram above. These primals are then broken down further into individual retail cuts, which is what you find at the store.

    The most tender cuts of pork are from the rib and loin. It's where we get the expression "high on the hog" — the most desirable cuts of meat come from higher up on the animal. By contrast, the shank and shoulder muscles give us the toughest cuts. But with...MORE the proper cooking, even those tougher cuts can be luscious and tender.

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  • 02 of 09

    Pork Butt (or Boston Butt)

    Pork Butt (or Boston Butt): Pig Diagram and Pork Chart
    Pork Butt (aka Boston Butt). Wikimedia Commons / Danilo Alfaro

    Pork Butt (or Boston Butt):

    Despite what its name might indicate, the pork butt, also called the Boston butt, comes from the upper shoulder of the hog. Consisting of parts of the neck, shoulder blade and upper arm, the pork butt is a moderately tough cut of pork with a good deal of connective tissue. Pork butt can be roasted or cut into steaks, but it is also well-suited for braising and stewing or for making ground pork or sausages.

    Just above the Boston butt is a section of fat called the clear...MORE plate or fatback, which can be used for making lard, salt pork, or added to sausage or ground pork.

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  • 03 of 09

    Pork Shoulder

    Pork Shoulder: Pig Diagram and Pork Chart
    Pork shoulder. Wikimedia Commons / Danilo Alfaro

    Pork Shoulder:

    Another tough cut, the pork shoulder (also called the picnic shoulder) is frequently cured or smoked. Pork shoulder is also used for making ground pork or sausage meat. The pork shoulder is sometimes roasted, but it's not really ideal for this. 

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  • 04 of 09

    Pork Loin

    Pork Loin: Pig Diagram and Pork Chart
    Pork loin. Wikimedia Commons / Danilo Alfaro

    Pork Loin:

    Hogs are bred to have extra long loins so they can have up to 17 ribs, unlike beef and lamb which have 13. The entire pork loin can be roasted, or it can be cut into individual chops or cutlets. The tenderloin is taken from the rear of the pork loin, and baby-back ribs come from the upper ribcage area of the loin.

    Above the loin is another section of fatback which can be used for making lard, salt pork, or added to sausage or ground pork.

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  • 05 of 09

    Ham

    Ham: Pig Diagram and Pork Chart
    Ham. Wikimedia Commons / Danilo Alfaro

    Ham:

    The back leg of the hog is where we get fresh, smoked or cured hams. Serrano ham and prosciutto are made from hams that are cured, smoked and then air-dried. Fresh hams are usually roasted, but they can be cut into ham steaks as well.

    The ham hock, which is used extensively in southern U.S. cuisine, is taken from the joint at the shank end of the ham where it joins the foot. The ham hock is often braised with collards or other greens.

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  • 06 of 09

    Pork Belly

    Pork Side: Pig Diagram and Pork Chart
    Pork side. Wikimedia Commons / Danilo Alfaro

    Pork Belly:

    The pork belly (also called the pork side) is where we get pancetta and bacon. Pork belly meat can also be rolled and roasted or even cut into steaks.

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  • 07 of 09

    Pork Spareribs

    Pork Spare Ribs: Pig Diagram and Pork Chart
    Pork spare ribs. Wikimedia Commons / Danilo Alfaro

    Pork Spareribs:

    Taken from the belly side of the ribs where they join the breastbone, pork spareribs are often prepared by grilling very slowly over low temperatures. Pork spareribs can also be braised or cooked in a crockpot.

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  • 08 of 09

    Pork Jowl

    Pork Jowl: Pig Diagram and Pork Chart
    Pork jowl. Wikimedia Commons / Danilo Alfaro

    Pork Jowl:

    The pork jowl is mostly used in making sausages, although it can also be cured and made into bacon. In Italian cooking, cured pork jowl is referred to as guanciale.

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  • 09 of 09

    Pork Foot

    Pork Foot: Pig Diagram and Pork Chart
    Pork foot. Wikimedia Commons / Danilo Alfaro

    Pork Foot:

    High in collagen, pork feet are excellent sources of gelatin and are frequently added to soups and stews. Long, slow simmering breaks down the tough connective tissues in the pork foot and tenderizes the meat. Pork feet can also be cured, smoked or even pickled. Pig feet are a key ingredient in the traditional Mexican menudo .