All Parts of the Pig!

Tara-Ballantyne-HeadshotAbbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), an avid food writer and blogger, a TV and radio personality, a food brand ambassador, a passionate home cook, a food event hostess, and the founder of Abbey’s Kitchen Inc. She has a BASc. in Nutrition and Food, Dietitians of Canada accreditation, and culinary training from George Brown College and private instructors.

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We’re all familiar with family favourites like BBQ ribs, succulent pork chops, breakfast bacon and lean pork tenderloin, but don’t overlook your butcher’s other tasty cuts. With the dollar losing value and grocery bills steadily rising, we are all about finding inexpensive and creative ways to put pork on your fork.

Next time you’re at your butcher, ask for a less popular cut of pork that will help you stretch your protein dollars. Typically, less expensive cuts of pork will require longer, slower cooking times, but a little extra love will yield incredible results! Here are some of our favourites and what to do with them.

Shoulder Cuts


Shoulder cuts like the picnic roast and Boston butt are among some of the least expensive cuts of pork thanks to their greater proportion of connective tissue. Both cuts do best cooked low and slow in an oven or smoker until they reach a tender flavourful state. Picnic roasts make great company pleasers when roasted at a high temperature for 30-45 minutes, finished at a lower temperature for hours, and then sliced against the grain. Boston butt, in contrast, has a higher proportion of fat, which makes it perfect for classic pulled pork sandwiches. Pork shoulders also yield blade steaks (also called pork steaks), which contain the blade bone and a nice amount of marbling. Unlike the shoulder roasts, pork steaks cook surprisingly quickly and are fabulous on the grill. We love this recipe for Grilled Shoulder Blade Chops with Pineapple Relish.

Leg Cuts


Pork legs are familiar in the sense that they’re the cut used to make cured hams, but we don’t always think to buy them raw. Legs can be divided into the inside, outside and knuckle cuts. All three are very lean and are perfect for slicing into cutlets or schnitzel, cubing for kabobs or stew, or grinding into lean ground pork for meatballs or burgers. We love this recipe for Quick Pork Parmesan, which is prepared as a cutlet from the pork leg and pan fried with spaghetti sauce and melted cheese.


Finally, there are the hocks. While they’re much smaller than the shoulder roasts, the hocks perform very much the same and are best cooked in a moist heat to break down their connective tissue. We love them cooked into hearty winter stews or homey casseroles with beans or lentils.

What are some of your family’s favourite recipes using inexpensive cuts of pork? Leave us a comment below – we would love to hear what you’ve come up with!


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