Pork Primal Cuts Breakdown

How To Breakdown A Pork Side Into Primal Cuts

There is nothing better than watching how a master butcher can breakdown any cut of meat from its original carcass form and into primal cuts and then even into sub primal cuts. If you are interested in seeing such a thing it is like watching artistry in motion. (Video further done)

Being able to yield a knife and various tools in many different hand holds to cut and slice meat into a desired form is something that can be taught, but to keep the skills honed is only built up over years of experience.

Constant adjustments to little things in the technique like:

  • small knife and tool angle movements,
  • understanding how sharp your knife is at the time,
  • understanding the knife length,
  • understanding the particular animal breed (meaning subtle bone and muscle structure changes),
  • understanding what to do if something seems different in the carcass anatomy (this certainly does happen)
  • and knowing what you want the end result to look like or what is ordered

These skills and this knowledge can only come with years of experience and many a great butcher develops their own little nuances as they journey through their work life.

I have been very fortunate to be given the task of teaching and showing new employees when they joined our team of butchers through the establishments that I’ve worked in throughout the world, and some of these new employees were very experienced butchers already. But within each work place the bosses have always had their own ideas of what the intended end product, to be produced, should look like to them for their business and their customers.

I too had to learn different and new techniques to accommodate the bosses needs, but with years of experience I have always been able to deliver the goods. I even learned from the people that I was tasked to teach and show as many had simple adjustments that made my job even easier. I am always open to learning for better results.

My style of training has always been to show and explain to new people:

“this is how I do it and this is the end product that we want, and you will get the same result but over time you will develop your own unique technique that suits your cutting style” 

Many of these employees would learn and practice and then make subtle changes to their product hold, knife hold and other adjustments. These small adjustments would always make their job easier and efficient for them and get the products needed out and displayed or sold faster because of a simple thing of letting them develop their own work structure and technique. Of course the boss and managers would always make sure that the end product would fit the standard required.

Below is a video of Master Butcher Bob Spring butchering a whole side of pork down to primal cuts and then sub primal cuts. It has been sped up for time saving but I want you to notice how he changes his knife grip and hold as he cuts and slices through the pork. Also take note of how he holds the actual meat primal’s adjusting the angles and moving each piece to suit the cutting.

When I found this video it looked amazingly similar to the way that I butcher a pork side and I love the way that he moves and cleans his work area to make the job easier. I am a big fan of a clean, organised and structured work bench. Maybe I am a bit OCD…Enjoy the artist in action.

For more detailed info on pork primal cuts and usage pop over to my Pork Primal Cuts page to further dive into the cuts. Check out my Pork Recipes page for some delicious meal to tempt you taste buds as well.

For other cutting video demonstrations, click the links below:


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