Born and raised in Harrow, Ontario, Jamie Waldron got his start in a small country butcher shop as a teenager. Jamie has dedicated 15 years of his life to mastering the art & skills of a butcher; working, learning, researching and teaching an age old craft.
Website: www.jamiewaldron.com // Twitter: @jamie_waldron
Butchery skills for this piece were provided by Jamie Waldron & written content by Ontario Pork.
The pork belly primal is the section of the carcass that is situated directly under the pork loin. Including the attached side rib, it typically represents 18 to 20% of the carcass weight. The boneless portion of the belly is generally merchandised as bacon in North American markets.
When merchandising, the entire side rib is first removed from the rest of the belly in a single piece. Side ribs lie directly adjacent to the belly, running from the point at which the back ribs end to the breast bone (or sternum). Side ribs are slightly less tender and have a marginally lower meat-to-bone ratio than back ribs. For these reasons, they’re less expensive than back ribs.
Removing the breast bone and squaring the end of the side rib transforms this cut into a St. Louis side rib. To do this, locate the white cartilage at the top or shoulder end of the side rib and cut straight through the cartilage to remove the breast bone and cartilage. Next, trim the end of the side rib into a neat, rectangular shape.
On the concave surface of all ribs is a thin, translucent membrane called the peritoneum. Its function is mainly to support the abdominal organs. However, the membrane is quite tough and can be impenetrable. Removing it will therefore allow topical seasonings or sauces to penetrate the meat and improve eating quality.
And the belly: to prepare this cut for bacon processing, the skin—or rind—is removed and the belly is trimmed into a uniform piece.
And there you have it—once trimmed, your belly is ready to be merchandised.