The wide availability of pork has made it one of the most popular types of meat purchased in the country. Pork is affordable, too, which makes it a great mainstay in family meals.
There are many different cuts of pork, which make it vary widely in its taste and texture. Overall, every cut of pork will have a salty hint because of its essence. Yet, certain cuts of pork may also taste rich from the fat it has in it or meaty if it is a leaner cut. Some consumers even claim that organic pork has a taste all its own.
As one can imagine, pork loin, bacon, butt roast, and pork sirloin will have tastes that differ from one another. This is just one example of a factor that can impact the taste of pork.
The diet a farmer feeds his pigs can also impact the flavor profile of various cuts of pork. Also, the age at which a hog is butchered will change it taste. In general, knowledge of where your pork is coming from is key to predetermining how it might taste. Yet, this isn’t always possible.
Familiar Flavor of Pork
Like many types of meat, pork can soak up whatever flavor you put into it well. A few common cuts of pork, their preparation, and typical flavors include:
- Barbecue Pork: Often made with a pork shoulder or butt roast, this type of pork is slow-cooked until it is tender. It contains a lot of fat and is often basted with vinegar, brown sugar, salt and pepper, and other BBQ sauce ingredients to give it a smoky and bold taste.
- Pork Tenderloin: Commonly smoked or put into a slow cooker, many consumers add whatever spices they want to this bland cut of meat. Lemon pepper, barbecue, and mesquite are common variations of pork tenderloin.
- Bacon, Ham, and Sausage: These cuts of pork of typically known for their processing, which allows them to maintain a long lifespan for consumer consumption. They are often flavored with hickory, maple, or mesquite to bring out their salty flavor.
Unlike other types of meat, pork is extremely versatile in its flavoring potential. A brown sugar ham during the holidays, smoke ham for sandwiches, and hearty bacon are just a few examples of how pork can greatly differ.
Defining Features of Pork Flavor
Without relying on specific cooking techniques, there are a few common descriptions people use to describe the taste of pork. Many describe pork as tasting:
- Mildly tough
- Some gristle
Pork is comparable to flank steak in its flavor and texture, especially in how tough it is. However, certain cuts of pork are inherently unique in their taste, such as:
- Pork Belly: Fatty, rich, and perfect for rendering to give other foods great flavor.
- Bacon: With skin that is similar to fried chicken, the salty umami flavor of bacon is something most are simply drawn to.
- Pork Shoulder: Resembles roast beef in its flavor.
- Pork Ribs: Similar to beef ribs, but pork ribs are more tender and have less gristle.
- Ham and Bologna: These popular lunch meats are soft and moist, maintaining a salty taste and watery texture.