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What kind of pork should I get?

Fiona Dec 15, 2011 06:43 PM

This Christmas I am departing from our traditional roast beef or goose (economic times are hard folks)- I want pork - beautiful, delicious, juicy succulent pork! What cut of pork should I get to roast? Boneless or boned is fine. Delicious is the only criteria. By the way, all of the pork tenderloins at the supermarket seem to be pre-brined and I have read on Chowhound that that is not a good thing.It needs to be generally supermarket available. There will only be four people eating it but leftovers are desired.
Thanks in advance

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  1. Karl S RE: Fiona Dec 15, 2011 07:20 PM

    Fresh ham (that is, the uncured hind leg). Makes a glorious roast. Shank half (the lower half, as opposed the sirloin half, which is the upper half) is easier to carve if you are going to choose a half.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Karl S
      fourunder RE: Karl S Dec 15, 2011 07:40 PM

      Fresh Ham is definitely one of my favorite roasts....but I could easily say the same for a Boston Butt or Picnic Shoulder. A cut less traditional for the holiday roast is Pork Belly....After watching a recent episode of the F word on BBC I plan on making this very soon.


      1. re: Karl S
        Bada Bing RE: Karl S Dec 16, 2011 06:51 AM

        I also like fresh ham roast. For Americans, anyway, I suggest that you not even call it ham, though, because the taste will clash with some people's expectations (they expect a cured taste). It's basically a pork roast, and very delicious. Relative to the more usual shoulder roast, it's less full of fat pockets and therefore easier to carve straight away for dinner. You will probably have to special-order it, and you might do best to order a butt or shank portion rather than a whole ham.

        Of course, if the crowd has ample fat tolerance, a shoulder/butt roast can be amazing. And they're cheaper.

        Tenderloin, which you mention, is very lean and requires a different and more careful approach. Its flavors would come mostly from spicing and sauces, because there is so little fat.

      2. biondanonima RE: Fiona Dec 15, 2011 08:07 PM

        A crown roast would be nice (and an impressive presentation), or a loin (not a tenderloin) made into porchetta would be great. You could also do a whole shoulder, roasted pernil-style until falling apart and succulent.

        4 Replies
        1. re: biondanonima
          subal RE: biondanonima Dec 15, 2011 08:41 PM

          I second a crown roast.

          Buy it rolled and tied. Then fill the center with your favorite bread stuffing.
          A apriocot or peach chutney would go good!

          1. re: biondanonima
            melpy RE: biondanonima Dec 16, 2011 10:50 AM

            Our family will be having crown roast this year. I prefer a cornbread apple stuffing with it myself but it seems like we will be stuck with roast potatoes yet again. Perhaps they won't be raw this year.

            1. re: melpy
              Kellz RE: melpy Dec 16, 2011 07:18 PM

              Hi Melpy. I suggest that you par boil the potatoes first and throw them in near the end of the cooking cycle.

              1. re: Kellz
                melpy RE: Kellz Dec 30, 2011 07:43 PM

                I should have elaborated, some else is on charge if the potatoes and default seems to be roasted but not quite long enough. This year they made something akin to au gratin which again was underdone despite the fact that they did precook before baking the whole casserole.

          2. h
            Harters RE: Fiona Dec 16, 2011 06:01 AM

            For a roast, I wouldnt look further than a bone-in leg joint. Leftovers make a great hash or sandwich.

            The OP's ref. to "economic times" is interesting as, where I am, I'd expect to pay more for a good pork joint than beef.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Harters
              Karl S RE: Harters Dec 16, 2011 06:23 AM

              In the US, beef is dearer than pork. By a significant margin. Of the most common roasting flesh meats, I would say they'd typically rank from high to low:

              1. Lamb (premium cuts) & Veal (premium cuts)
              2. Beef (premium cuts) & artisinal country hams/cured meats
              3. Goose (often only available frozen, except around the Jewish High Holidays and Chanukkah/Xmas)
              4. Duck (ditto)
              5. Rabbit (often only available frozen, except in Italian markets); tougher cuts of lamb & veal.
              Then there's often a significant gap to the next level....
              6. Pork (premium cuts)
              7. Beef (tougher cuts)
              8. Pork (tougher cuts)
              9. Turkey
              10. Chicken

              1. re: Harters
                Bada Bing RE: Harters Dec 16, 2011 06:44 AM

                What part is a "joint"? I don't think that's a USA usage.

                Edit: unless you're lighting up some contraband...

                1. re: Bada Bing
                  wattacetti RE: Bada Bing Dec 16, 2011 06:47 AM


                  1. re: wattacetti
                    Karl S RE: wattacetti Dec 16, 2011 06:49 AM

                    More commonly, fresh ham, the front legs being referred to as arms in US usage.

                  2. re: Bada Bing
                    Harters RE: Bada Bing Dec 16, 2011 07:31 AM

                    A "joint of meat" is a "piece of meat"

                    1. re: Harters
                      Bada Bing RE: Harters Dec 16, 2011 08:25 AM

                      Okay, thanks. So even a tenderloin or a boneless shoulder is still a "joint" in British usage? (I know my question might seem odd, but the term implies bones to me!)

                      1. re: Bada Bing
                        Harters RE: Bada Bing Dec 16, 2011 08:36 AM

                        Generally speaking, any cut of meat you're going to roast will be a "joint". It wouldnt be , say, pork choips that I decided to cook in the oven - they'd still be chops.

                        1. re: Harters
                          Bada Bing RE: Harters Dec 16, 2011 09:20 AM

                          Got it. Thanks.

                2. w
                  wattacetti RE: Fiona Dec 16, 2011 06:48 AM

                  I say pork belly. I'm doing porchetta.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: wattacetti
                    tommy RE: wattacetti Dec 16, 2011 08:34 AM

                    Yeah, belly all the way. Skin on, obviously.

                  2. Hank Hanover RE: Fiona Dec 16, 2011 10:14 AM

                    It has already been said but I would go with a ham. It is a traditional holiday meal. It is festive and looks very nice on the carving board. It is inexpensive, easy to cook and guarantees plenty of leftovers.

                    A crown roast of pork looks very nice but will cost as much as that goose.

                    You could go with 2-3 tenderloins. They would taste great and be tender. I don't have any trouble finding tenderloins that are not prebrined at my grocery store so I am not sure what to tell you there.

                    I think a turkey is fine for Christmas dinner. I would make a spread just like I did at Thanksgiving. Most people only have turkey once a year. Christmas is a month from Thanksgiving...plenty of time so people don't go,"but we just had turkey".

                    1. i
                      igorm RE: Fiona Dec 16, 2011 12:56 PM

                      I would say a fresh ham would be wonderful and you would have some crackling. Second choice would be rib bone in pork roast. You could get either r3 rib roast or 4 or 5. This would be half of a crown roast if you didn't want that much left over.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: igorm
                        Bada Bing RE: igorm Dec 16, 2011 01:02 PM

                        About natural or "fresh" ham, the crackling/skin is indeed a great addition. But note that vendors will not automatically provide a skin-on product, so it's worth specifying that upon ordering. (Maybe in some places, these things are sitting around, but I've had to special order the two times I've made them, and it would be a shame to get something less than expected.)

                        1. re: igorm
                          fourunder RE: igorm Dec 16, 2011 07:13 PM

                          While a Crown Roast is definitely festive, I was wondering when someone was going to mention the amount of meat for 4 people, leftovers not withstanding. A rib bone roast, or Rack of Pork with Frenched bones is also very elegant. I guess I would pose a question to the OP.....what do you intend to do with the leftovers....chops, sandwiches, tacos, pita, carnita's and etc. or soup?

                          1. re: fourunder
                            Fiona RE: fourunder Dec 17, 2011 06:18 PM

                            The leftovers will mostly be used for sandwiches. Depending on what i wind up with I might make a big pot of baked beans. Whenever I have some kind of pork leftovers I also try to make a meal of colcanon.
                            I really appreciate all of the suggestions! I am going to use the responses to make a list to take to the store and make the final selection based on what is available and what the butcher recommends as being good. Thanks again very much! This has been very helpful!

                        2. f
                          Fiona RE: Fiona Dec 28, 2011 05:25 PM

                          Thanks for all of your suggestions. I wound up selecting a bone rib roast. I rubbe it with dry mustard, herbs, a garlic made into a paste with some pinot grigio. I made gravy with the pan juices and apple cider. It was very good. Thanks again for your help.
                          I hope everyone is having a good holiday!

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