From char siu pork belly bites to panko- and parmesan-crusted pork chops, we’ve got just the recipes to show you how versatile pork is, including how to use all the cuts.
Brought to you by SA Pork
Pork is so much more versatile than you might think and super budget-friendly, even when the “fancier” cuts are involved! Here’s a guide to all the popular pork cuts and the best ways to cook them, plus some recipes to try.
Pork belly: An inexpensive fatty cut of meat that’s always succulently tender and richly flavourful. Pork belly is a versatile treat enjoyed by many different cultures all over the world.
It can be sold with or without the skin on and can be roasted, smoked, braised, cured and made into streaky bacon – or even air-fried. Opt for pork belly with the skin on if you’re a fan of crisp crackling.
Try these Asian-inspired char siu pork belly bites for a meaty flavour explosion.
Pork leg: Pork legs are meaty, packed with protein and considerably lower in fat compared to some other cuts.
While it’s a cut that’s usually roasted whole and served as the showstopping centrepiece at a dinner party, you can also find it deboned and left whole, broken down into smaller roasting joints or thinly sliced through the transverse to make large pork steaks. Remember that cooking meat on the bone always imparts the most flavour, so if you’re planning a roast, opt for bone-in – this will help keep the pork leg moist and seriously flavoursome!
Requiring only three ingredients, this roast pork recipe is an absolute crowd-pleaser for the next time you’re planning on hosting at home! Or for a deboned option, you can’t go wrong with this leg of pork with a date-and-walnut stuffing.
Pork loin: This popular cut of pork is mildly flavoured with a thick cap of fat on top of it. When cooked properly, pork loin is guaranteed to be wonderfully tender because as the fat cap melts, it slowly bastes the meat, locking in both flavour and moisture.
Sold bone-in or deboned, a whole pork loin is best when the fat is seared in a hot pan then slow-roasted to tender perfection in the oven. Or opt for pork loin chops for a quick meal option that’s a guaranteed flavour hit when braaied or grilled.
Want to take pork loin chops to the next level? Try these panko- and parmesan-crusted pork chops served with fresh papaya salsa.
Pork neck: This affordable cut is perfectly suited to a variety of different cooking methods, whether you go for the whole pork neck or a pork neck steak. As the meat cooks, the intramuscular fat melts, ensuring moist and tender meat. Juicy and flavourful, the final product is sure to always stand out!
Whole pork neck is best when slow-cooked to tender perfection, while pork neck steaks work wonders on the braai or as a quick fry-up option when you’re in need of some easy weekday meal inspiration.
Pork knuckle: Just below the shank you’ll find the pork knuckle. This joint is famously known for making Eisbein, which is typically boiled until tender then grilled until the skin is wonderfully golden and crisp.
Pork knuckles become ham hocks when cured in salt and smoked. Adding ham hocks to stews, soups or broths will add an amazing bacon flavour to just about any dish in the most cost-effective way possible.
Pork ribs: Probably needing no introduction, pork ribs are inexpensive, packed with meaty flavour and are a favourite in most households. This too is a versatile cut, as ribs can be grilled, braaied, smoked, roasted or even slow-cooked. Spareribs can also be added to bone broths, stocks or stews to amp up their flavour.
A pork rib chop cut from the lower loin (with the rib bone still attached) is one of the best pork chops money can buy. Season simply and enjoy as you would any good bone-in steak for a seriously meaty treat.
These sticky glazed pork ribs are slow-roasted to tender perfection and are sure to bring everyone to the table in a matter of moments.
Pork rump: This wonderfully meaty cut comes from the chump or hindquarters of the pig and is affordable, flavoursome, juicy and relatively easy to cook. It can be sold whole (on or off the bone – perfect for roasting or slow-cooking) or as rump steaks, which can be pan-fried, grilled or braaied.
Try this recipe for pineapple-glazed pork rump steaks topped with a fresh and zingy pineapple salsa.
Pork shank: This cost-effective cut comes from the lower area of the front leg. Pork shanks are guaranteed to be tender, moist and full of flavour when allowed to slow-cook or braise in a sauce. As the shank cooks, the bone marrow will melt into the meat and sauce, resulting in an extra rich and flavoursome dish.
This pork shank curry hits all the flavour boxes and is loaded with beans, carrots and potatoes to make for a flavour-packed wholesome meal the entire family can enjoy.
Pork shoulder: No surprise here – this is the meat from the shoulder blade of the pig, which can be roasted whole for a family-style feast, cut into shoulder steaks, grilled, braaied, diced into chunks and slow-cooked, or even minced!
Pork tenderloin: The pork fillet or tenderloin comes from the top part of the shoulder. It’s lean, delicately flavoured and one of the most tender cuts if you’re looking for a quick-cook option.
This summer salad pairs perfectly with pan-fried pork fillet – a quick and satisfying meal that’s both filling and light for those balmy summer days.
Pork trotter: Don’t let their looks fool you – trotters are one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to give your diet a collagen boost! This affordable and readily available cut does require a longer cooking time, meaning they’re best suited for homemade bone broths, stews, curries and potjies. When done right, the meat is tender, soft and seriously flavourful.
This recipe for tomato trotters slow-cooked with beans and potatoes is a flavoursome and comforting must-try!