Though not everyone can agree on whether pork is red or white meat, everyone agrees that it's the meat of a pig prepared for consumption. Another thing to know about pork is that the meat is much leaner than it was 50 years ago. Also, pork no longer has to be cooked to the consistency of leather to be free of the trichinae parasite and safe to eat. Nowadays, experts recommend that pork be cooked to about 160 Fahrenheit.
Like beef, lamb and veal, pork is divided into different cuts, though some people consider it a treat to roast a pig whole on a spit. Pork cuts are a bit different in the United States and Great Britain. Here are the general cuts of pork from back to front:
- The leg.
- The belly.
- The loin.
- The spare ribs.
- The shoulder.
- The picnic shoulder.
- The jowl.
- The hock.
These are large cuts that are subdivided into smaller chops. Other parts of the pig that are cooked and eaten are:
- The brain.
- The uterus.
- The tail.
- The feet.
- The liver.
- The kidney.
- The intestines, which are called chitterlings down south.
- The head, which is used to make head cheese.
Crackling is the rind found on a pork roast. It takes a bit of work to produce it, but the crunchy, salty taste is wondrous. Bacon is cured, smoked or unsmoked meat from the loin or the belly. Types include pancetta, speck, breakfast bacon and lard de poitrine. Ham is from the hind leg and is cured slowly, sometimes over months. There are many types of ham, including Black Forest ham, Westphalian ham, Jambon de Paris, York and Suffolk ham, coppa and prosciutto. Salted pork, nestled among boiling greens to give them flavor, include sylte, salt pork, pickled pork and petit salé. Gammon is a type of bacon from the hind leg and has a delicate flavor due to the curing process.
What is left over after butchering the pig, including the blood, is made into sausage. The pig's own intestines are cleaned out and used for casings. The sausage can be spiced and hung up to dry to eat later, or it can be eaten fresh. Luganeghe is an Italian sausage made of pork shoulder and Parmesan cheese. The links are made in very long ropes that are cut to order. Other Italian sausages are made of ground pork and pancetta and can be mild or highly spiced. Other pork-based sausages include hot dogs, knackwurst and cotechino. Sausages that contain pig's blood are blutwurst from Germany and morcilla from Spain.
Top 5 Routes for "Pork"
- D'Artagnan This website has some interesting things to say about the history of pork, pig breeds and pork farming, including a quote from Pliny.
- Bon Appétit Besides having great recipes for pork, this site has a page of poems dedicated to the porker. Poets include Walt Whitman, Carl Sandburg and the Chinese scribes Su Shi and Su Dongpo. Su Dongpo has a pork dish named for him.
- Cook's Info This site has fascinating things to say about pork, including cooking tips and nutrition. A 100 milligram piece of pork, for example, has a modest 215 calories.
- Pork Be Inspired This site offers more pork history: in 1539 Hernando de Soto brought 13 pigs with him from Spain to Florida, and Cincinnati became so central to pork production that it was nicknamed Porkopolis.
- Healthline This website examines the health effects of pork and lists not just calories but grams of fat, carbs and protein. People may be surprised to know that pork is 53% water.
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