Buying an entire pork loin and butchering it yourself may seem intimidating, but it can actually save you some money and gives you the ability to make the cuts you want. In this video, part of the “Kitchen Smarts” series on America’s Test Kitchen Youtube Channel, Cook’s Country test cook Morgan Bolling shows you how to break down a full bone-in pork loin so you can feel prepared and comfortable when you’re the one holding the knife. Here are some of our findings:
- Follow the fat: In your loin, there are two different types of cut. There is a line of fat that runs along the length of the loin, acting as a divider between the two cuts. The meat underneath the fat line is the center cut, the meat above the fat line is the blade end. The blade end and the center cut cook differently, so you will want to separate them.
- Slice, don’t saw: To separate the two cuts, flip the roast bone side up, and find a gap in the bones to cut through. Using a boning knife, use long slicing motions to cut through the meat. Wiggle the knife around the small bones near the base of the rib bones to get around them.
- When to use which cut: The blade end comes from the shoulder of the pig, and is where you will find dark meat. As juicy and flavorful as it is, it can also be a bit tough, so we recommend using this cut for low and slow cooking, like braising or smoking. And if you remove the bone (which we show you how to do in the video), you’ll want to tie up the roast to keep its shape uniform. The meat in the center cut is quite lean and evenly shaped, so there is no need to tie it up like you would with a boneless blade end. This cut is versatile and can be used in a variety of different ways, and this cut makes an excellent roast. You can also cut through the bones and get bone-in rib chops, or remove the bone and get boneless chops.