PORCINE PLEA­SURES

Maxim - - THE MAXIM GUIDE TO BUTCHERY -

1 BELLY

A fatty, rich cut of meat that turns melt­ingly ten­der af­ter some time in the oven, pan, or grill, this cut is used in ev­ery­thing from porchetta to Korean-style stews. “It’s amazingly ver­sa­tile,” says Har­lem Sham­bles’ Tim For­rester. Or­der fresh, skin-on, cen­ter-cut belly at the shop, as lean as pos­si­ble. Each slice con­tains three lay­ers: thick skin, a layer of fat, and rib­bons of red­dish meat just like ba­con, which is what pork belly be­comes when cured.

PIG OUT ON FIVE BUTCHER-AP­PROVED CUTS THAT ARE THE FINEST ON THE SWINE.

2 SHOUL­DER

Pork butt, or “pic­nic cut,” is ac­tu­ally the bot­tom shoul­der of the pig, a dense, well-stri­ated sec­tion of mus­cle laced with lots of col­la­gen. It’s a butcher’s fa­vorite and meant for smok­ers or slow cook­ers. “There’s noth­ing much to it,” says Meat Mar­ket’s Jeremy Stan­ton. “When cooked low and slow, it holds to­gether yet be­comes ul­tra-ten­der.”

3 RIB EYE

Crav­ing a juicy chop? Treat your­self to this choice cut. Ba­si­cally a bone­less pork chop from the rib sec­tion, it’s thicker and bolder in fla­vor. There’s a sub­lime swath of fat sur­round­ing it, which melts and in­su­lates when cooking. Pan sear­ing is pre­ferred.

4 PORK SKIRT STEAK

Oc­ca­sion­ally re­ferred to as the se­creto, this is one of the cuts butch­ers pre­fer to keep for them­selves. If you can find it, snatch it up, as the long cut is sim­i­lar to the more popular ten­der­loin but with a bit more fat and fla­vor. “Give it some acid­ity, sea­son it, and grill a killer piece of meat,” says Red Apron Butcher’s Nate Anda.

5 COL­LAR

This is the part of the shoul­der that runs from the base of the neck to the tip of the loin. Cured and thinly sliced, it’s a cen­ter­piece of an­tipasto, com­monly called coppa. Left whole, it’s ideal for roast­ing, with thin skin that crisps up over the fatty, ten­der meat. “It has that per­fect meat-to-fat ra­tio,” says Re­vival Mar­ket’s An­drew Vaser­firer. “It’s re­ally fla­vor­ful and ver­sa­tile.”

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