Pork loin is a popular cut of meat that is often used in a variety of dishes. But have you ever wondered where it comes from on a pig?
Understanding the origin of this delicious cut can help you appreciate it even more. In this article, we’ll explore the different primal cuts of a pig and discover where exactly the pork loin comes from.
So, let’s dive in and learn more about this flavorful and tender cut of meat!
Where Does Pork Loin Come From On A Pig?
Pork loin is a cut of meat that comes from the back of a pig. It is located on both sides of the backbone, starting at the shoulder and continuing back to the hind leg. The pork loin is the largest, most tender, and leanest cut from the pig.
The pork loin can be split into three sections: the rib, sirloin, and loin center. It can also be split into only two sections, known as the pork loin rib half and pork loin sirloin half. The cuts from the pork loin include center chop, center back bacon (Canadian bacon), sirloin chop (baby back ribs), and rib chop.
Hogs are bred to have extra long loins so they can have up to 17 ribs, unlike beef and lamb which have 13. The entire pork loin can be roasted or it can be cut into individual chops or cutlets. The tenderloin is taken from the rear of the pork loin and baby-back ribs come from the upper ribcage area of the loin.
It is important to be careful not to overcook some of these cuts because they will dry out easily due to their leanness. Some of the cuts from this primal cut demand the most in price because of their quality.
The Anatomy Of A Pig: Primal Cuts
Understanding the anatomy of a pig is important in order to know where different cuts of pork come from. The pig is initially broken down into four main pieces or ‘primal cuts’: the shoulder, loin, side/belly, and leg. These primal cuts are then cut into sub-primal cuts such as rib roast, tenderloin, pork belly, and bacon.
The shoulder encompasses the front portion of the hog and is often divided into two parts: the upper part called the butt and the front leg called the picnic. The leg primal cut includes the hog’s hind leg and rump, which is where ham comes from. The middle of the hog consists of two sections: the top, known as the loin, is exceptionally tender and lean, while the bottom portion is the belly, sometimes called the side, which is the fattiest portion of the hog.
The pork loin, where pork loin chops come from, is located on both sides of the backbone, starting at the shoulder and continuing back to the hind leg. It can be split into three sections: the rib, sirloin, and loin center. The rib section contains up to 17 ribs in hogs bred for pork production. The sirloin section contains some of the most tender meat on a pig, including baby back ribs. The loin center is where pork chops are cut from.
It’s important to note that different countries have different terminology and extent of each cut. For example, there are at least 25 Iberian pork cuts including jamón. But in general, understanding these four main primal cuts can help you navigate different cuts of pork available at your local butcher or grocery store.
What Is Pork Loin?
Pork loin is a lean and tender cut of meat that features a juicy fat cap. It is a wide and thick cut of meat that can be sold as a boneless or bone-in roast, making it easier to slice after cooking. It is often recognized as the source of pork chops, which are steaks cut from the loin roast.
The pork loin is located on both sides of the backbone, starting at the shoulder and continuing back to the hind leg. It is the largest, most tender, and leanest cut from the pig. The loin can be split into three sections: the rib, sirloin, and loin center. The cuts from the pork loin include center chop, center back bacon (Canadian bacon), sirloin chop (baby back ribs), and rib chop.
The pork loin is a versatile cut of meat that can be cooked in various ways, including roasting or grilling. However, it is important to be careful not to overcook some of these cuts because they will dry out easily due to their leanness.
In addition to being available fresh, cured, smoked, bone-in, boneless, and fully cooked, the pork loin is also available as a dry-cured product in European countries such as Spain. The dried variety, referred to as Lomo de Cerdo, is dry-cured with garlic, paprika, sugar, pepper, and other spices to enhance the flavor of this meat. Thinly sliced, dried pork loin is served as a luncheon meat or an appetizer with cheese or eaten as a side dish flavored with a topping of olive oil.
Purchasing the whole primal cut of pork loin can be more economical but requires knowledge on how to cut it into smaller cuts to prevent waste and incorrect cuts. If a whole primal cut is desired, it is generally necessary to order it in advance.
Different Cuts Of Pork Loin
There are three main cuts of pork loin: the rib, sirloin, and center. The rib cut is located at the top of the pork loin and has a higher fat content, making it perfect for roasting or grilling. The rib cut can also be used to make delicious pork ribs.
The sirloin cut is located at the bottom of the pork loin and is a leaner cut than the rib. It is typically used for making pork chops or cutlets. The sirloin cut can also be used to make baby back ribs.
The center cut is located in the middle of the pork loin and is the leanest and most tender part of the pork loin. It is also the most expensive cut of pork loin. The center cut can be used to make pork chops, cutlets, or roasts.
When purchasing pork loin, it is important to choose the right cut for your cooking method. Thicker cuts are better for grilling or roasting, while thinner cuts are better for pan-frying or stir-frying.
Cooking Tips For Pork Loin
Cooking pork loin can be a bit tricky as it is a lean cut of meat that can dry out easily if overcooked. Here are some cooking tips to help you achieve the perfect pork loin:
1. Use a thermometer: The best way to ensure that your pork loin is cooked to perfection and at a safe temperature is by using an instant-read thermometer. The recommended internal temperature for pork loin is 145°F, but if you prefer your meat to be well-done, then aim for a temperature of 160°F.
2. Preheat your grill or oven: Preheat your grill to high or preheat your oven to 375°F before cooking your pork loin. This will ensure that the outside of the meat has a nice color and flavor.
3. Season with salt and pepper: When seasoning pork loin for grilling, stick to salt and pepper only. Herbs, sugar, and rubs that contain them tend to burn quickly.
4. Allow your meat to rest: After cooking your pork loin, let it rest for about 10 minutes before cutting into it. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful cut.
5. Don’t overcook: Pork loin is a lean cut of meat, so it can easily become dry if overcooked. Cook it until it reaches the recommended internal temperature, no more.
6. Brush with oil and herbs: Before cooking your pork loin, brush it with olive oil and fresh herbs and spices to add extra flavor.
7. Sear the meat: If you’re roasting your pork loin in the oven, sear it first in a hot pan with some olive oil until browned on all sides. This will help seal in the juices and create a delicious crust on the outside.
By following these cooking tips, you’ll be able to cook a delicious and juicy pork loin every time.