video of pig

How to Butcher an Entire Pig – Every Cut of Pork Explained

Butcher and author Bryan Mayer shows Bon Appetit how to butcher an entire pig at Wyebrook Farm and explains every cut of pork. There are five sections of the pig that yield edible cuts: pork shoulder, pork belly, pork loin, pork butt (or ham), and the head. From those sections, the butcher can offer sausage, bacon, spare ribs, brisket, ribs, steaks, pork chops, pork cutlets, coppa, presa, secreto, and tenderloin.

Released on 09/14/2017

My name is Bryan Mayer.

I’m a butcher, educator, and writer.

Today, we’re here at Wyebrook Farms,

where we’re going to break down a half a pig

into cuts that you would see at your local butcher shop.

So the first thing that we’re gonna do is

we remove the leaf lard.

Leaf lard is the most neutral of all fats,

which means it doesn’t have a lot of taste to it.

Traditionally, it would be used in things like pie crust,

and stuff like that, before the advent of shortening.

So right here, I’m just kinda removing a bit

of the flank section.

This is just sort of a preliminary step.

We’ll come back later in terms

of removing the sirloin section,

but that just kinda gets it out of the way.

Also, it makes it a little bit easier

to pull the tenderloin off.

So along with the leaf lard,

one of the first things we’ll do is also remove the kidney.

Kidneys are wonderful.

I usually grind them with my grind,

and put them into sausage.

So, here I’ll just follow along the lumbar vertebrae,

right to where it turns into the sacral vertebrae,

and right into the aitch bone.

I just follow along a very natural seam,

and you can very easily pull off the tenderloin.

Once you’ve severed those first connections,

it almost comes off by hand.

So here, we’re gonna remove the shoulder section.

For our purposes today, I was counting

between the fifth and the sixth rib.

That’s traditionally where a butcher hog would be broken.

If we were cutting it for charcuterie,

we would want to elongate certain muscles,

so we would cut between, say, the sixth

and the seventh for charcuterie.

What I’ll be able to do is basically joint.

So, I’ll be able to remove this section without sawing.

What that does is that helps the life of the carcass.

I’m not sawing through something,

so I’m not generating heat, which will

cause the muscles to oxidize a little quicker.

I’m also not injecting a little bit of bone dust

into the muscle.

Now, I’m gonna remove just a little bit more

of that flank section.

You can see back here, with that skin,

this hog is hung for about seven days,

so it’s really dry.

So, that skin is pretty tough to break through.

So, I’m just moving it out of the way

because what I want to do is expose this

last vertebrae in the lumbar section.

What I’ll be able to do is the same thing.

I’ll use the weight of the animal to joint,

and not have to saw.

And, that piece just comes off fairly easily.

Then, so the last cut is to separate the belly

from the loin section.

Here, we want to make sure that we

get a nice enough of a tail, a nice enough of a rib bone

on our pork chop without cutting our bellies

Bellies get turned into bacon.

Bacon is a great value added product for butchers.

Everybody loves bacon, so it’s definitely

within the butcher’s best interest

to have as much bacon as possible.

So these are the four primals, your shoulder,

loin, belly, and ham, along with your tenderloin,

leaf lard, kidney, and the head.

Then, from here, we’re going to break them down

into other cuts.

So, we’ve got the shoulder section here,

which consists of the butt, the picnic,

and then a hock and a trotter.

Here, what we’re doing is removing the trotter

from the rest of the arm bone.

I was planning to do zampone, but with the skin

being as dry as it was, I thought

maybe we’d joint the leg instead.

So, first, the trotter comes off.

Then, we’re gonna locate the joint between

the ulna, the radius, and the humerus.

We’ll cut across, and then we’ll use the weight

of the higher shoulder to break that piece off.

So, we’re gonna saw the picnic and the butt in half

right along this natural curve in the spine.

We don’t want to saw through muscle,

so we’ll stop, we’ll make a cut.

Then again, a bit of the scapula is still in there.

We’ll saw again, make our way through that bone.

Once we’re through that bone,

we’ll continue to cut through again.

So, now we have our two sections.

We have the top portion, which is the butt,

and the bottom is the picnic.

So here, I’m just removing the spine.

That’s a really great cut to use

if you are making something like pork rillettes.

So, what you would do is you would take those bones,

along with some fat, some spices, and some alcohol,

cook those things down, drain off the fat,

peel the meat off the bone, put that meat

in the jar, pour the fat on top of it,

wait for it to solidify, grab a baguette and eat.

Here, what I’m doing is I’m seaming out

the longissimus muscle, and some of the other

shoulder muscles, and I’m just following

right along the shoulder blade.

There’s a very natural seam there

that can just peel right away.

There, I’m just pulling off a little bit of that excess fat.

That fat will get used in sausage.

That fat will get rendered to cook with later.

The skin is really great.

We can take skin and turn it into things

like chicharrones, or we can just add it to our stock.

So, here I’m just following this very natural seam,

and I’m removing the longissimus muscles,

which will make up the coppa, from the bottom

portion of that muscle, which is the serratus,

which will get cut into pork dipper.

So here, I’m just removing a big of the scapula

that’s still left in.

Traditionally, this would get turned into sausage.

I think it’s really great that we

pulled the top half of this section away,

and used this for steaks and for roasts.

We’re really trying to minimize the amount

of trim-off here.

So, here I’m just following along the natural seam,

and I’m gonna remove a little bit of the skin.

What we can do is we’ll just turn this

into a boneless, skinless pork roast.

These muscles in this particular part are pretty tough,

so they’re gonna need low, moist heat

to break down all that connective tissue and collagen.

Here, I’m following the natural seam,

and I’m removing is what would be considered

the short rib, or spare rib.

These, I’ll leave whole, or, what I can do

is cut them into individual spare ribs.

One of the really great things about pig

is every bit is usable, from the blood,

from the skin, from all that’s allowed to be used.

I think the only one that we’re not allowed

to use are the lungs, but really,

everything gets used.

I think that pigs really exemplify whole animal butchery.

What I’m pulling off here is something

that you don’t normally see, and it’s the pork brisket.

Again, it’s just another way to have a sort of

more usable, versatile, slow cooking roast.

I’m gonna take the remaining section,

and I’m gonna tie that up into a full roast.

Here, I’m just basically squaring it off,

just making it into a sort of a more manageable,

So, here’s a breakdown of the shoulder.

Now, what I’m going to do is trim and clean

these cuts in a way that you might

see them in a butcher shop.

So, I’m just removing silver skin.

Maybe if there’s excess fat, I’m getting rid of it,

maybe if there’s some oxidized areas.

One of the things that I love to do with hocks

is to pierce the skin, and that’s gonna allow

some of the moisture to escape while it slow cooks.

So, that’ll get that really puffy skin.

Here, I’m taking the spare ribs,

and all I’m doing is just separating them

right between each rib.

So, that’s the pork brisket.

I’m just gonna remove some excess fat.

Again, something that you don’t normally see,

but it’s a fun cut to try.

Here, we’re just kind of removing

some of that excess fat, and that’ll go

into getting rendered, or that’ll go into sausage.

Then, again, the skin gets used in stock.

The skin you can make chicharrones,

which is wonderful and great, but is

a long, arduous process.

Another great thing that you can do with skin is pet treats,

and it’s a really, really healthy snack for them.

So, now I’m working with the picnic that we have left

after we remove the brisket.

So here, I’m scoring it, and I’m doing down

a little bit into the fat.

What I want is that fat to render,

and almost self-baste while I slow cook this.

Again, I can smoke this, or I can

just very easily put it in the oven

at a very low temp, and let that cook.

It’s going to take a substantial amount of time.

So, this is the section of the shoulder

where we removed the scapula.

I’m scoring it just to make it nicer visually.

Here, we’ll just tie this, which will

keep the shape more consistent so it’ll cook more evenly.

So, we’ll take the trotter, and we’ll split it in half.

We’ll expose the center of that trotter,

and that collagen will render much easier into our stock.

Next up, we have all the longissimus muscles.

Those are the longest muscle group in the body.

So, it’ll be the eye in your pork chop,

or it is the coppa.

That’s what we’re gonna do here,

is we are going to tie a coppa roast,

but also cut coppa steaks.

So, here are the final cuts from our shoulder.

Some of these cuts, if not all,

you’ll find in your local butcher shop.

So, the next section that we have here is the belly.

Here, I’m just following along the spare rib bones,

long, sweeping strokes, trying to leave as much

muscle as I can on the belly side,

and trying to remove the spare ribs

in as few strokes as possible because the belly,

turning it into bacon is a great way

for butchers to have a value added product.

So here, I’m just gonna follow along the natural seam.

You can see that the secreto, or this abdominal muscle,

easily pulls away from the remainder of the belly.

There’s lots of opinions as to where the secreto comes from.

I like to pull it from the belly

because it’s the most easily accessible,

and it’s got great flavor and a lot of fat.

Here I’m removing a little bit of the gland

in the flank section.

Unfortunately, glands are one of the things

that we really can’t use, very bitter in taste.

So, something like this, you don’t want to have a gland in.

So, the main part of the belly would be the bacon.

Bacon really is just salt and time,

and then maybe a little bit of smoke.

Belly can be turned into many different kinds

of bacon, from streaky bacon or slab bacon,

Canadian bacon, a rasher, jowl bacon,

so many different kinds of things.

These are the cuts that you can get off the belly.

So, next up, we have the loin section,

which included the tenderloin.

There’s lots of different cuts that we can get

off the loin, bone in, bone out, roasts, steaks.

So, what we’re going to do here is we’re

going to remove this section of the loin

from the rest of the loin.

We’re just basically cutting between the vertebrae,

and then removing all the muscle

without having to saw through it.

We’ll later turn that into a boneless loin roast.

So, here what I’ve opted to do is cut a different

style of pork chop with the chine bone attached.

So, I’m splitting between each vertebrae,

sawing through a bit of the rib section,

and then just following along the natural path of the rib.

So, I’ll remove a full pork chop with the chine on.

The other thing I like to do with these

is leave all the fat on, as well as the skin.

They have a few different muscles included in there

that are going to change the texture.

That texture is going to change the flavor a little bit.

So, to counter that nice and fatty with the skin on as well.

For the remainder of the loin,

what I’m going to do is chine.

I’m lining my saw right up the base of the spine,

and just a couple of quick bursts.

Once I’m through that section, I’ll take the tip

of my blade, and I’ll work around each little piece

of the vertebrae.

So, here I’m just following down the feather bones

that are on the back side of the spine,

and we’ll remove this section of the vertebrae.

Again, I’ll save this for stock, things like that.

So, here I’m just following the rib bone,

and cutting through the vertebrae,

and just cutting some bone in pork chops.

Here, the skin will be off, as well

as the chine bone being off.

So, this is a part of the loin

towards the rear of the animal,

back towards an area where there are finger bones,

and not rib bones.

So, I’ve removed the spine and finger bones.

Here, I’m just removing excess fat.

It’s always a balance between too much fat,

Me, personally, I love a ton of fat.

It’s something we slowly have to initiate

customers into buying.

Then, here, I’m gonna just score it again,

just for some presentation, and then I’ll tie it.

That tying will keep it in a more uniform shape,

and that will aid in a more even cooking.

So, the last part, we’re going to tie something

that’s sort of traditional holiday roast, if you will.

We’re going to tie what is essentially

a pork standing rib roast.

Skin off, leave a good amount of fat on,

not too much, and expose, or French the ribs.

Really, this is all just presentation.

Personally, I love to leave all that fat

and meat on the bone, but for presentation sake,

it looks really nice.

To go ahead and French a bone, first you

want to scrape between the bone,

and remove any of the intercostal meat.

That’s the meat in between each bone.

Then, really, it just depends on how you feel like doing it.

I kind of do a version where I scrape off as much meat,

and then I’ll take a clean rag,

and use that rag to pull off.

Some people really want to see clean, clean bones.

I think I’d leave some meat on there

just because I’m so anti-Frenching things.

So, here we’re gonna remove the skin.

Again, we’re left with some fat and some skin,

all of which will be utilized.

So, the tenderloin is the most tender muscle in the body.

What that equates to is a lack of flavor.

So, to help mitigate that, I leave a good amount

of fat, or as much fat as I possibly can.

One of the things that we will have to remove

is the silver skin.

So, that fascia isn’t going to break down

when you roast it normally.

Here are the final cuts from the loin

that you’ll likely see at your butcher shop.

So, here we have the final traditional primal,

the ham with a sirloin attached.

So, much like we did on the front arm,

we’re going to do on the rear.

Removing the rear trotter is very similar

to removing the front trotter.

We’re going to look for that joint.

We’re going to look for articulation in the tarsal bones.

We’re going to cut around, and then use the table

to help us separate that from the hock.

What we’re going to do is we’re

going to de-bone around the sirloin.

So, first we’ll remove part of the sacral vertebrae,

and then we’ll remove part of the hip

that’s still attached to the aitch bone.

What that allows me to do is make sure

I just remove the bone, and not pull muscle with it.

So, it’s a much cleaner way of removing those bones.

So, I’ll cut between that cartilage,

remove a bit of the hip, and then I’ll

work around that remaining section of the hip

into the aitch bone, around the femur,

and then pull out that section.

The aitch bone is a fairly tricky bone to remove.

There’s a tendon that’s attached to it,

so it’s one of the reasons why you don’t dislocate your leg.

The rear hock is a little bit different

from the front arm, in that the rear hock

has a stifle joint.

So, it’s almost a straight cut through that section.

So, we’ll remove the tibia from the femur

by locating an area just below the patella and the kneecap.

That area right below the patella

allows us to sever that section very easily.

So, now we can remove the sirloin section.

So, we follow right on top of the tip of the femur.

As you can see, we get a much more full piece of sirloin,

great for cutting steaks, or turning it

into a roast as well.

So, here’s the breakdown of the ham.

Next, I’ll cut them down even further

into parts that you might see in your butcher case.

So, here again, I’m just skinning

and taking off some of that excess fat.

We’re going to cut some bone out sirloin steaks,

a lot of flavor.

There’s a lot of muscle groups in there,

so that texture is adding to the flavor.

I like them much better than a pork chop.

So, next up we have the ham, and the four

primary muscles that are included in that,

the top round, the sirloin tip,

the eye round, and the bottom round.

For our purposes, first we’re going to skin it,

leaving as much fat on as possible.

You want to see the shadow of the blade

underneath the skin.

That’s how you know you’re getting a really clean piece.

So, here we’re following the natural seam,

and I’m just scoring and following

right around the femur.

There’s a very natural seam there

that connects the top round to the bottom round.

We’ll remove the top round along those lines.

So here, what we’re doing is removing the top cap.

This is the gracilis muscle.

A cut that you’ll see in butcher shops in the beef case,

but you can totally use this in the pork case as well.

It’s very thin, it’s quick cooking,

and definitely just a great cut for a couple of portions.

There’s a good amount of fat on it,

so we’ll trim that off, as well as removing

any of the silver skin, or fascia, on there.

So, with the remainder of the muscles on the leg,

what I’d like to do here is just de-bone it.

So, I’m just following the bone.

Then, that femur bone is going into stock.

So, the remainder of the muscles, the bottom round,

the eye round, and the sirloin tip,

traditionally would either be left together for a ham,

cut into cubes for stew, or going into sausage.

I figured the utility of this is that we can

turn all of these into really great roasts.

I’m gonna pull off a little bit of that excess fat.

I’m gonna pull off the patella, the kneecap,

which is still in the sirloin tip.

Then, I’m gonna tie each of these into individual roasts.

What we’ll wind up doing with the top round,

is taking that and cutting cutlets, or schwein schnitzel.

Then, the remainder of the pieces that are left on the leg,

I cut those up for stew.

So, when you’re pounding the schnitzel,

I use two pieces of Saran Wrap.

You want to make sure that you don’t

hit directly straight down, you want to push away,

so as not to push through the muscle.

These are the final cuts from the leg

that you might find at your butcher’s case.

And, then, we have the head,

which I like to call the fifth primal.

So, first thing I do is I remove the ears.

You can leave them attached, but traditionally

what will happen is those will get sliced into strips.

They’ll get cured along with the head and the tongue,

and those will get put into the skin,

and rolled up and cooked along with it.

So, I’ll remove those.

What we’re gonna do here is something

that’s very typical in charcuterie,

which is removing the entire skin,

along with the muscle, from the skull

into something that’s called porchetta di testa,

or fromage de tete.

Here, I just follow around the skull.

I start at the top of the head,

and then, working down along the sides of the skull.

So, I work in sections.

I work one side loosening it up, then I’ll

flip over to the other side, joining them

in the middle, right around the forehead,

and then peel down the snout of the animal.

Just like organ meats, that people have

this sort of negative connotation with head.

You know, it has a face, and so I can understand

that it makes it really difficult

for people to even think about consuming.

But, again, talking about pigs,

and they’re overall utility, it’s just so great

that you can take every single part

of this animal and turn it into food.

Even when you’re done, the skull

has a lot of meat left on it.

So, you can totally throw that into a pot,

and that can be your head cheese.

These are the cuts you get from the head.

Finally, these are just some of the many cuts

that you can get from a side of a pig.

Starring : Bryan Mayer

Special thanks to Fleishers Craft Butchery and Wyebrook Farm.

Butcher and author Bryan Mayer shows Bon Appetit how to butcher an entire pig at Wyebrook Farm and explains every cut of pork. There are five sections of the pig that yield edible cuts: pork shoulder, pork belly, pork loin, pork butt (or ham), and the head. From those sections, the butcher can offer sausage, bacon, spare ribs, brisket, ribs, steaks, pork chops, pork cutlets, coppa, presa, secreto, and tenderloin.

Abby the pig beats the heat by playing in her kiddie pool

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Abby the pig beats the heat by playing in her kiddie pool in Connecticut.