Head to Tail: Know What to Do With Every Part of the Pig

Because every good chef knows how to make even the less popular cuts shine.
ILLUSTRATOR Boizei Malicdem

Let’s get down to the real swine. Here’s a complete guide to dealing with the meat Filipinos love to eat.


Pork Shoulder or Butt

Perfect for stews, ground meat, smoked (pulled pork), or roasted whole. Ask for
the blade roast if you want something extremely tender to roast.

Ham or Leg

For curing, roasting, and boiling and to make your own ham at home. 


Bacon. Enough said. 


Can be used as butter and oil. A natural occurring fat, it is a healthy alternative when used in moderation. 

Loin Roast

Available with bone or deboned. Usually wrapped in twine for roasting. Not to be confused with the tenderloin. Great brined and then barbecued. 

Pork Chop

One of the healthiest cuts of meat when trimmed and an amazing source of pure protein power. The Porterhouse is probably the meatiest. The Rib Eye includes a good amount of tasty fat. The Sirloin Chop is a little less tender than the previous two. New York Chops are usually sold as country-style ribs, they tend to have a good amount of marbling.


One of the least popular cuts, as it is long and thin. But probably the easiest cut to cook with a good rub or marinade, pan-seared, and then finished off in the oven. 

Blade Steak

Cut from the pork butt and has a piece of blade bone, and a strong flavor due to the marbling. Easy to grill.


Lean yet tough.


Most of the cuts here are great roasted or braised. The Hocks especially are a growing favorite; they carry a perfect balance of cartilage and fat, is inexpensive, and a great stock starter. 



From the belly. These are the ribs with the strongest flavor but with less meat. 


Best when roasted. 

Country Style Ribs

Has the most meat in the rib category, with parts of sirloin and pork loin on them. 

Back Ribs

The smallest ribs, which is why they are called “baby,” and not because they come from a baby pig. 

Rib Roast

Lovely when cooked in an oven and probably the most regal in presentation for large sit-down dinner parties.

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This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Esquire Philippines. Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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Erwan Heussaff
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