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The ultimate guide to pork cuts

The ultimate guide to pork cuts

Lean or rich? It's your choice, but no matter what pork you pick, it'll always be juicy and tender if cooked with care.

Spare Ribs

A family favourite that never goes out of style, pork ribs benefit from marinating overnight, and a long cook at 140-160°C in an oven, smoker, or barbecue with lid. In New Zealand, we mostly find ribs from the belly area. Look for meaty ribs with streaks of white fat. Cut off the membrane (silverskin) on the inner side which can get stringy and tough.

Pork Rack

Born to be roasted (and served with something featuring apples), pork rack offers up a succulent layer of fat to crackle up, and beneath it, juicy and tender flesh-on-bone. Pork rack benefits from brining, airing, scoring, searing and basting. Use rubs for added flavour. As a general guide for a 1kg rack, roast at 220°C for 45 mins, 160°C for another 75 mins, then rest for 15 mins.

Belly

This boneless cut of layered meat and belly fat undergoes the most magnificent change with heat, to become succulent and flavoursome with a layer of crackling and melting fat. Pork belly likes brining or salting, airing, scoring, and a blast of heat. Roast to get crackling, braise in Asian dishes, or try your hand at homemade bacon.

Bone-in Shoulder Roast

The best pick for making pulled pork, it has layers of fat and stays juicy over a long cook in the oven, slow-cooker or barbecue with lid. It will do well with airing and scoring before cooking. Layer flavour by applying a dry rub prior to cooking, then once the meat is pulled apart, douse with a sweet-sour dressing (try vinegar, sugar, fresh sliced chilli simmered together) for mega juiciness.

Fillet

This narrow, long cut is perfect for a weeknight quick cook – grilled, baked or braised in the oven. Try coating with a herb rub or mustard-based crust. Cook whole, or slice and use in stir-fries and quick braises. The key with fillet is taking care not to overcook it.

Sirloin Roast

A boneless, lean roast with a light flavour. It cooks relatively quickly (allow 35-45 mins per 500g), making it a good pick for weeknights. Marinate to boost flavour, and try cooking with some liquid in the dish, and basting, to retain moisture.

Loin Chop

So versatile, loin chops can be cooked quickly in the frying pan or oven – or try searing them in the pan and finishing in the oven. You can marinate loin chops, or try a quick 30 min brine before cooking; it'll inject flavour and tenderness right to the centre of the flesh, and you can add flavourings to the brine such as peppercorns, lemon zest, star anise, garlic, and ginger.