Pork is a rich, succulent meat. It doesn’t keep well, which is why, in the past, it used to be eaten fresh only in the winter months. However, thanks to good refrigeration, British pork is now available throughout the year. Almost every part of the pig is used, whether as prime roast or sausages.
What to look for
Fresh prime pork should be firm, a delicate pink and finely grained. The fat should be firm and white, the bones pinkish-blue, and the skin or rind smooth and free from hairs. It is the skin that forms crackling on a roasted joint.
- Pork retains more flavour if cooked on the bone, but frequently it is boned and rolled ready for stuffing. It must always be well cooked.
- Belly This is sometimes known as streaky. It is ideal for an economical stuffed and rolled roast and the thin end can also be grilled. It tends to be rather fatty. Spare ribs, used in Chinese cooking, come from this cut.
- Tenderloin (fillet) This runs under the backbone. It is very lean but not so well flavoured, and can be roasted, grilled or fried.
- Hand and spring Together these form a large roasting joint, but they can also be sold separately. Hand is the lower part of the shoulder and spring the knuckle end, often used for casseroles.
- Leg A large, expensive roasting joint which can be cut into two: fillet end (top of leg) and shank end, The fillet is sometimes cut into steaks, and the trotters are usually salted and boiled or used to make brawn.
- Loin This comes from the middle back of the animal and is a choice cut for roasting on the bone, or boned, stuffed and rolled. Loin chops come from the rib end of the loin; chump chops from the leg end. Both are good for grilling or frying.
- Neck and shoulder (spare rib and blade bone) A large roasting joint which is economical and particularly good when boned, stuffed and rolled. When divided into blade and spare rib, can be roasted, braised or grilled.