Culinary Sense

Adventures with Food and Life

Half a Pig

Pork primal cuts. The leg is also known as "fresh ham".

Hey Peeps!

You guessed it – more photos and descriptions of dead animals. Today, Chef David demonstrates how to cut half a pig into primal cuts. The primal cuts of pig are: Boston butt (above the shoulder), shoulder/picnic ham (shoulder and front leg portion), loin (back), belly (this is where you get spare ribs and bacon), and the hind leg portion, called “fresh ham”.

Just after the pig is killed, and after the head is taken off, the carcass is cut straight down the middle. In this photo, you can see the half carcass, with the front towards the right.

I saw a couple of green inspection stamps on the pig. The round inspection stamp is from the USDA, and means the slaughterhouse and the pigs were inspected for cleanliness, health of the animals, and proper handling (among other things).

Instead of giving a step-by-step, I’m just going to include a gallery in this post. The pig is really an amazing “meat machine”, if you will. The are slaughtered at no more than 6 months of age, which is incredibly young compared to other animals we eat. In addition to this, you can use most of the cuts of meat with almost any cooking method, including dry and moist, but you can also smoke it, cure it, brine it, and many combinations of these. Plus, pork fat is used in sausage making (something I’m really interested in learning).

Alright, enough talk. Here are the photos!


Ready for pork chops? Bacon? Sausage? I guess it’s not surprising at all, but I’m always hungry after this class!

~ Carolynn


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