For most of us, pork has always been part of family meals. Prime cuts like pork belly, ribs and chop take center stage most of the time, but other parts of the pig can be just as (if not more) delicious if cooked the right way. If you’re squeamish, it’s best to avert your eyes because things are about to get a little more descriptive.
Here are a few recipes that’ll make use of cheaper cuts of pork—from ear to tail.
The pig’s jowl is located around the neck area. It’s a fatty cut, which makes it a great pork belly substitute. In other countries, the jowl is usually smoked or cured and used as a substitute for bacon because of the marbling in the meat.
While this chashu pork recipe calls for belly, jowl will taste as good. A great thing about this specific recipe is that you can find most of the ingredients in any big grocery store and it doesn’t require an oven for roasting. The downside is that you’ll need a lot of patience, because it takes a few hours to cook and it’ll be gone in just a few minutes. If you want to try this recipe, make sure your kitchen has great ventilation, because the searing process is going to make a lot of smoke (and maybe even summon a fire alarm if you’re not careful).
Pork shoulder is known to be one of the tougher cuts of pork. It’s mostly lean muscle and not a lot of fat, which gives it relatively less flavor compared to the belly and rib cuts. This recipe is basically the pork version of a classic beef stew.
The slow and low cooking process helps soften the pork until it’s fork tender, and the aromatics, red wine and stock make for a great dipping sauce for crusty bread. While it takes a few hours to get together, the end result is definitely worth the labor of love. Added bonus: you can freeze it and it’ll stay delicious for up to two months.
Pig ears are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world (understandably so), but this recipe transforms the humble ear into a gastronomic experience. Chef Yang Soon—of the famed Los Angeles gastropub Father’s Office—has made a more refined, but equally adventurous, version of this cut using a classic French technique.
His pig ear terrine calls for pig ears, pressure cooked in light soy sauce and Chinese cooking wine along with a bag filled with aromatics. After the ears are done, he slices them into more manageable pieces and layers them up in a baking tin with the cooking liquid as a binding agent. After letting the terrine set in the fridge overnight, he slices it and serves the dish.
While canned pork trotters (or pig’s feet) are an average item you can find in most supermarkets, this recipe makes use of trotters straight from the butcher, not out of the can. Jokbal is a traditional Korean dish that braises these bad boys into a fork-tender dish that’s great over a steaming bowl of rice. Make sure you get your carving knife ready if you don’t want your dinner to resemble what came out of the farm.
The pig’s tail is a little meatier than you’d expect. Instead of just skin and cartilage, the meat takes after pork jowl, which makes room for a lot of flavor. There are tons of ways to prepare this cut, but this Jamaican stewed pea recipe is probably something you didn’t think of.
This classic Caribbean recipe makes use of kidney beans, braised tail and coconut milk to make a rich, hearty meal that doesn’t even need rice. The addition of the dough dumplings adds more texture to the dish for a unique and delicious meal you won’t soon forget.