As we embrace sustainable food sources organic pork is becoming increasingly popular. One of the best things about pigs when being raised for meat, is that every part of the pig can be used in pork recipes and nothing is wasted from pork sirloin to the loin of pork; it is often said that the only thing left is the squeal.

This means that there are many fine cuts of pork available and you will have no doubt cooked pork chop recipes but, there are perhaps some cuts you’d never considered trying in your recipes with pork.

What are the different types of pork?

Pork is enjoyed worldwide, finding a huge market in Southeast Asia and features heavily in Chinese cuisine. Western countries such as the US and European countries, also consider pork to be a firm favourite. A lot of the popular breeds of pigs originate from Britain. Rare breeds such as the Berkshire, British Lop, Saddleback, Gloucestershire Old Spot, among many others, are considered to be some of the best producers of pork meat. Pork and bacon from these breeds carry additional fat which helps keep the meat succulent and moist during cooking. However, meat from rare breeds can be quite expensive; they tend to take longer to mature and are well cared for in a good environment which can cause them to be worth more. However, not only does this pork taste better than intensively reared meat, the animal would have had a better quality, longer life.

How is pork farmed?

The majority of British pigs are reared intensively, meaning they live in overcrowded sheds. This raises concerns about animal welfare as these conditions are far from ideal, around 1 in 3 pigs are reared outside. Pork with the British Quality Standard Label had successfully met the approved minimum industry standards. Furthermore, the Red Tractor Pork mark will alert a buyer to the high standards the farmers have achieved. This logo means that the farmer must observe over 130 standards for the welfare of the pig, environmental impact, health and safety, and hygiene. Alternatively, a trusted butcher should be able to give you a decent amount of information as to the rearing of the pig.

What to look for when buying pork?

When buying pork, look for good, neat cuts with a fine-grained texture. The cuts should not be damp, clammy or have oily or chalky-looking fat, the meat should be moist. Grey or red coloured meat should be avoided, the meat should be a healthy deep pink colour with rare-breed, organic pork having an even deeper pink colour. Pork is a lean meat but may still have marbling of fat, if so, this should be firm and white in colour. Pork should last around 4 days once in the fridge. Smaller cuts such as minced pork or offal are best when consumed on the day of purchase but can last one or two days more.

How to cook pork

Pork is extremely versatile and can be eaten as loins or chops, bacon, sausages, ham, roast joints, in pies or stir-fires, to name just a few. Most cuts of pork can be braised or pot-roasted. A loin of pork is the cut of meat from the tissue along the top of the rib cage, this can be roasted with the bones still attached or boneless, which is best when tied with butcher’s string to avoid it falling apart. This cut of meat is also good the production of bacon. Tenderloins are popular for roasting as they are lean and succulent with a good flavour. Pork sirloins are an alternative to the tenderloin, they are cheaper but more difficult to carve with the bone in. Pork chops vary in size, the smaller being the foreloin or the middle loin chops which both contain bone and the larger is the chump chops which is boneless. A lot of pork chop recipes will suggest the same cooking methods as the loins, they can be braised, grilled or roasted.

Small strips of pork cook very quickly, making it perfect for a stir fry, or grilling and barbequing. Pork is also ideal for barbeque cooking, small joints can be spit-roasted over coals of an even temperature. Whole pigs can be requested from specialist companies as an alternative. Pulled pork is also a barbeque favourite. The meat is great for marinating and is done so often in Asian cookery.

As it can be cooked in such a variety of ways, it can take on many flavours as well. Recipes with pork work well with the traditional paring of pork and apple or pear. Herbs that go well with the meat include garlic, thyme, rosemary, fennel and coriander. Spices work wonderfully to bring out a good flavour as well.

Pork Recipes: