Pork is the culinary name for the meat of a domestic pig.
It is the most commonly consumed meat worldwide.
Pork is the most popular meat in the Western world and in Central Europe, and it is also very popular in the Eastern and non-Muslim parts of India, Southeastern Asia (Indochina, Philippines, Singapore, East Timor) and in Malaysia. It is highly prized in Asian cuisines, especially in China, for its fat content and texture.
Pork’s increasing popularity is no doubt attributable to the wide variety of cuts, the outstanding flavor profiles, the versatility it offers foodservice operators as they develop their menus and its applicability across all dayparts.
The most desirable pork is grayish pink in color, firm and fine-grained, well-marbled, and covered with an outer layer of firm white fat.
About 30 percent of the meat is consumed as cooked fresh meat – the remainder is cured or smoked for bacon and ham, used in sausage, and rendered to produce lard.
In Western cooking fresh pork is commonly roasted, choice cuts being the loin, leg, and rib sections known as spareribs. Chops from the loin and ribs are usually grilled or pan-fried. A spit-roasted whole young piglet, is a delicacy in central and eastern Europe – wild pigs have traditionally been cooked in a similar manner throughout the Pacific.
Pork ribs are a cut of pork popular in Western and Asian cuisines. The ribcage of a domestic pig, meat and bones together, is cut into usable pieces, prepared by smoking, grilling, or baking – usually with a sauce, often barbecue – and then served. Barbecue pork ribs have been called “the quintessential Fourth of July dish”.
Pork belly is a boneless cut of fatty meat from the belly of a pig. Pork belly is particularly popular in Hispanic, Chinese, Danish, Korean and Philippine cuisine.
Bacon is prepared from several different cuts of meat, typically from the pork belly or from back cuts, which have less fat than the belly. It typically goes through a curing process, during which the meat is soaked in a solution of salt, nitrates and sometimes sugar. In most cases, the bacon is smoked afterward. Curing and smoking are ways to preserve the meat, but these processing methods also contribute to the characteristic taste of bacon and help preserve its red color.
Ham is produced by curing raw pork by salting, also known as dry curing, or brining, also known as wet curing. The curing process both preserves the meat allowing it to be stored, or brought on travels for later consumption, as well as giving it additional flavor. Besides salt, several ingredients may be used to obtain flavoring and preservation, from black pepper to saffron.
Sausages are a meat product usually made from ground meat, often pork along with salt, spices and other flavourings. Other ingredients such as grains or breadcrumbs may be included as fillers or extenders. Some sausages include other ingredients for flavour.
Lard is a semi-solid white fat product obtained by rendering the fatty tissue of the pig. Many cuisines use lard as a cooking fat or shortening, or as a spread in the same ways as butter. It is an ingredient in various savoury dishes such as sausages, pâtés, and fillings.
The pig dates back 40 million years to fossils, which indicates that wild pig-like animals roamed forests and swamps in Europe and Asia. By 4900 BC, pigs were domesticated in China, and by 1500 BC, they were being raised in Europe.
On the insistence of Queen Isabella, Christopher Columbus took eight pigs on his voyage to Cuba in 1493. However, it is Hernando de Soto who could be dubbed “the father of the American pork industry.” The explorer landed with America’s first 13 pigs at Tampa Bay, Fla., in 1539.
True history pigs appear in art, literature, and religion. In Asia the wild boar is one of 12 animal images comprising the Chinese zodiac, while in Europe the boar represents a standard charge in heraldry.
Native Americans reportedly became very fond of the taste of pork, resulting in some of the worst attacks on the de Soto expedition. By the time of de Soto’s death three years later, his pig herd had grown to 700 head, not including the ones his troops had consumed, those that ran away and became wild pigs (the ancestors of today’s feral pigs or razorbacks) and those given to the Native Americans to help keep peace.
Before the mass production and re-engineering of pigs in the 20th century, pork in Europe and North America was traditionally an autumn dish—pigs and other livestock coming to the slaughter in the autumn after growing in the spring and fattening during the summer.
Crispy pork with parsley sauce or ‘Stegt flæsk med persillesovs’ is Denmark’s official national dish.
In China, pork is so important that the nation maintains a “strategic pork reserve”.
Iberico ham began selling in London for £1,800 for a 15-pound leg joint. It’s the world’s most expensive pork, raised in western Spain and delivered in luxurious conditions: The pigs were fed on a diet of acorns and roots to give the ham a distinctive flavour.
The largest serving of roast pork is 6,626.15 kg (14,608 lb 2.5 oz) and was achieved by Fundación Produce Yucatán, A.C. (Mexico) in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, on 6 March 2016.