Butcher’s Guide to Cutting the Meat Right Part 1 Pork Cuts

Anyone who is dead serious in getting into the meat business must learn the proper way of butchering.

Despite the presence of big-time meat shops in the Philippine key cities, the meat industry and its operations are still in the process of breaking away from its infant stage. Spices and Food Mix House (SFMH) Vice President and the renowned meat processing guru Lourdes S. Rivera agrees that unlike other well-developed countries in Asia and Europe, the meat industry in the country is still characterized by supply insufficiency, lenient implementation of regulations, unrestrained use of spices and ingredients and the very often mishandling of carcasses.

However, the National Meat Inspection Commission (NMCI), which looks after the meat industry and its operations, after replacing the Veterinary Inspection Board in 1972 — supervising and organizing slaughterhouses, meat establishments and meat inspection systems that operate across the country — has been responsible chiefly for bringing the yardstick of the meat shop operation standards to a cutting edge level.

Intensive Investment

Like other lines of businesses, there are opportunities in operating your own meat shop; Filipinos, after all, are meat lovers. But success in meat shop operation is rare and fleeting, unless undertaken seriously. There have been a great deal of hopefuls, but some owners, as Rivera had witnessed herself, easily feel trapped and unable to detach from the business when their shops don’t take triumphant flight.

“It’s not as simple as others think and should not be taken lightly,” said Rivera, “The meat shop business is a labor and capital intensive investment.”

A specialty store as such that fabricates meat cuts from wholesome carcasses of pigs and cows, sells meat chilled or frozen and meet as close as possible certain standards set and prescribed by existing meat institutions it needs solid foundation of at least P500,000 to take wing. This consists of at least P200,000 worth of equipment like polysealers, meat thermometers, weighing scales, slices, grinders and the like; at least P50,000 for the monthly manpower wages and other fees like shop rental and supplies.

For Best Cutting Results

Meat quality is essential in keeping one’s meat shop in business. SFMH Dr. Gracia Flores said, “Consumers must and will check the color, texture, water loss, surface and marbling of what you will sell, so it’s most important to confirm the bacteria load, pesticide residues, fat content and other pathogenic germs carcasses may have when delivered.”

Exhausted, maltreated, thirsty and warm pre-slaughtered conditions of animals will cause what experts call PSE (pale, soft and exudative). This may be due to a severe drop in the carcass’ moisture, too high muscle temperature and the breakdown of muscle sugar glycogen (sugar) to lactic acid. On the other hand, if the moisture is too high and the muscle is tough, this may be what’s referred to as DFD (dark, firm and dry), which may be helpful for meat processing but is not when they’re for sale as fresh beef and pork cuts.

For best cutting results, carcasses must be chilled overnight. In large scale operations, 24 to 36 hours is most recommendable. This allows the carcasses to cool down and slow down rigor mortis, which hardens the muscles of the bodies. Meat changes pH due to the production of lactic acid from sugars present in the muscle.


In what experts term as ‘packer style’, a pork carcass is without the pig’s head. All internal fat will be removed, including the diaphragm, if desired, but the jowl remains intact with the carcass.

Primal Cuts:

  • Kasim at Paypay (Shoulder) – Between the 2nd and 3rd ribs perpendicular to the top line of the body. Neck bones are removed by a cut close to the bone. Fat is trimmed 1 to 2 centimeters from the top line to the Boston butt. Kasim is the lower half of the shoulder while Paypay is the upper.
  • Loin (Lomo) – Separated from the belly about 1 centimeter ventral to the blade bone. Backfat is trimmed 1 to 2 centimeters thick and tenderloin muscle must be in tact.
  • Liempo (Belly) – Lower side after the removal of the shoulder, ham and loin. Trimmed on all sides to exclude mammary glands.
  • Pigue (Hind leg or ham) – Separated from the side by a straight cut parallel to the shank bones and 5 to 10 centimeters in front of the aitch bone knob. Fat is trimmed 1 to 2 centimeters thick.

Other Cuts:

  • Buto sa Leeg (Neckbone) – Removed from the shoulders by slipping the knife under and close to the bones.
  • Tadyang (Spare Ribs) – Separated from the belly by slipping the knife under and close to the bones.
  • Pata Unahan (Front foot) – Separated from the shoulder on or about the knee joint.
  • Pata hulihan (Hind foot) – Separated from the ham on or about the hock joint.
  • Buntot (Tail) – Separated from the ham at a point close to the sacral bone.
  • Pinagtabasan (Trimmings) – Lean trimmings are pieces and portions without the fat and the skin, while fat trimmings are the fat and the skin from the clear plate, backfat, jowl, ham and belly.

Portion Cuts:

  • Fillets – Prepared from hams, shoulders, picnics, boston butts and loins. All bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and membranous tissues are removed.
  • Boston Butt Steaks – Unless specified by the purchaser, fat must not exceed an average of 1 V4 thickness.
  • Chops – May be with pockets, bladeless, centercut or boneless. Prepared from the loin and the diaphragm. Loin must be cut from end to end. Surface fat must not exceed V4 inch in thickness and chop thickness must be more than 1 centimeter.
  • Ground pork – Prepared from the kasim and the paypay. Visual fat should not exceed 25%. Passed through two grinders: one with 2 centimeter holes and one with 0.5 centimeter.
  • Ground Pork patties – Mechanically formed into round patties and arranged in stacks with each patty separated from adjacent ones.

Click here for illustrations

author: Hans Audric B. Estialbo, Mard Digest, photo from imgc.allpostersimages.com

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