What Is Pork Collar? A Simple Guide

Are you a fan of pork butts and shoulders, but looking for a smaller cut? Look no further than the pork collar!

This versatile cut comes from the shoulder portion of the pig and is full of rich marbling for impressive flavor. It can be roasted, braised, slow-smoked, or cut into pork steaks.

But what exactly is the pork collar and how does it differ from other cuts? In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about this delicious and economical cut of meat.

What Is Pork Collar?

Pork collar is a triangular muscle that runs from the jowl of the pig, through the shoulder, specifically the Boston butt, and extends close to the loin. It is also known as pork neck fillet or neck end. This cut is well-marbled and naturally flavorful, making it a popular choice among chefs and home cooks alike.

In the United States, most pork is broken into two pieces at the shoulder: a pork shoulder (also known as a “picnic shoulder”) and a pork butt or Boston butt. The pork collar is technically described as a “center cut boneless pork butt” and is smaller than traditional pork butts, with an average weight of four pounds.

The pork collar includes part of the “money muscle,” which is used by competitive barbecue teams when turning in their pork shoulder. This cut is cooked to a lower finishing temperature and sliced rather than pulled. The marbling and texture of the money muscle are amazing, which lends to the wins teams have using it.

How To Prepare Pork Collar

Preparing pork collar is easy and can be done in a variety of ways, including grilling, roasting, and slow-cooking. Here are some steps to help you prepare a delicious pork collar dish:

1. Keep the fat cap: Pork collar usually comes with a small fat cap. Do not remove it entirely, as it adds flavor and helps keep the meat moist during cooking. You can trim it down to a 1/4 inch using a sharp knife.

2. Marinate: A marinade can help tenderize the pork collar and enhance its flavor. For a citrus-based marinade, mix citrus juice with herbs, spices, and salt. Use a blender like a Blendtec to blend up the marinade ingredients and eliminate chunks. Marinate the pork collar for at least three hours.

3. Pat dry: After removing the pork collar from the marinade, pat it dry with paper towels before applying rub.

4. Score the fat cap: If there is a fat cap, score it with X patterns using a sharp knife to allow the rub to get into the fat and for rendering when grilling or roasting.

5. Apply rub: For a dry rub, use herbs, kosher salt, and pepper to season the cut. Be sure to pat dry the cut before applying the rub to help in the searing process.

6. Grill or roast: Grill or roast the pork collar until it reaches an internal temperature of 140°F or until slightly charred and cooked to medium.

7. Let it rest: Let the pork collar rest for 10 minutes before slicing against the grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices.

By following these steps, you can prepare a delicious and flavorful pork collar dish that is sure to impress your guests.

Pork Collar Vs. Other Cuts

When it comes to pork cuts, there are several other names that can be confusing for the average consumer. The terms pork shoulder, pork butt, and Boston butt are all commonly used. However, the pork collar stands out for its unique flavor, texture and versatility.

Compared to other cuts, pork collar is a more economical option, costing under $3 per pound. It is also naturally flavorful and versatile, making it a great choice for a variety of cooking methods such as slow cooking, roasting, braising, BBQ, grilling in slices (low heat), kebabs, pork steaks and for shredding for pulled pork sandwiches and casseroles. Unlike other cuts that can dry out when cooked for a long time, the fatty and well-marbled pork collar stays juicy and tender.

The pork collar is cut from the top of the pig’s neck, on the back behind the head and neck (Jowl) and just above the shoulder (Butt). It is a triangular muscle that runs from just below the back of the neck down to the spine. While it is not the most tender cut due to its frequent use by the pig, it is highly flavorful.

In contrast to US butchers who follow standardized cuts documented in the NAMP Meat Buyer’s Guide, European butchers tend to cut according to individual muscles on the animal. However, regardless of where you are in the world, pork collar is a highly sought after cut that delivers on taste and value.

Benefits Of Cooking With Pork Collar

Cooking with pork collar has many benefits. Firstly, it is a relatively inexpensive cut of meat, making it an excellent choice for those on a budget. Despite its low cost, pork collar is flavorful and tender, making it a great option for a variety of dishes.

Another benefit of cooking with pork collar is its versatility. This cut can be roasted, braised, slow-cooked, or grilled, making it suitable for a wide range of recipes. It can also be cut into pork steaks or shredded for use in pulled pork sandwiches and casseroles.

Pork collar is also a healthy option for those looking to reduce their fat intake. It has very little fat and is full of proteins. As the common cooking methods for pork collar cut involve smoking or grilling, this is a healthy option to have at any time of the day.

Finally, pork collar is an excellent choice for those who enjoy experimenting with different flavors and seasonings. Its natural flavor pairs well with a variety of spices and marinades, allowing you to create unique and delicious dishes every time you cook with it.

Recipes To Try With Pork Collar

If you’re looking to experiment with pork collar, here are some delicious recipes to try:

1. Crispy Pork Collar: This recipe comes from chef Chris Shepherd of Underbelly in Houston. Marinate the pork collar for at least 4 hours before cooking it quickly to achieve a crispy exterior while keeping the inside juicy and tender.

2. Slow Roast Pork Collar: For a caramelized, tender, and juicy pork collar, try this slow roast recipe. The large pieces of pork collar guarantee more surface area for a golden, sticky caramelized texture.

3. Southern-Style Neck Bones: Pork necks or neck bones are another name for pork collar. This Southern-style recipe features tender and flavorful pork necks covered in a light gravy infused with sage. Serve it with Southern staples like cornbread, collard greens, and baked macaroni and cheese for a comforting meal.

Pork collar is a versatile cut that can be cooked in various ways, so don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen!