The pork loin: Super popular, and a great center of the plate item that has exceptional price points. Even when the meat comes from purebred pigs, the loin is priced more aggressively than your average beef loin making it both cost effective and versatile.
But what classifies a whole pork loin, center cut pork loin, the rack, short loin, and sirloin? Well the whole pork loin is just that, all the way up to the shoulder. The center of the loin with the bone in is the 10-bone pork rack. On the whole loin (typically 13 bones in total), count in 2 bones from the shoulder end and that's where what is usually classified as the rack starts. Count a further 10 bones to find the end of the rack. When you order a pork rack this is what makes up the standard 10-bone cut. This would be equivalent to the rib roast or prime rib on beef, although the beef would be a 7-bone cut. When a boneless pork loin is processed the rib bones from the rack become the baby back ribs as opposed to the spare ribs which are from the belly.
The cut that follows from there is the short loin, which is equivalent to the short loin on beef where T-bones and Porterhouse cuts come from. In pork, that latter is referred to as loin chops. On the whole loin you have the sirloin attached just before you go into the ham, which means you also have the whole pork tenderloin attached, too.
Now keep in mind that when you order a typical center cut pork loin this is what you will get: The 10-rib rack attached to the short loin (if you get it bone-in). If you do go bone-in and chine-off you'll be able to cut chops with your knife all the way down the loin. However, you do lose the ability to get T-bones or Porterhouse loin chops because the chine is what holds those together on the loin.
With the bone-in, chine-off center cut loin the tenderloin is removed prior, and you can't get a full tenderloin from a center cut, as part of the tenderloin goes into the sirloin. With the processing of T-bone loin chops there is often a tenderloin head as a by product. When available this little gem is as valuable as it is tasty.
The boneless center cut pork loin is similar to what you would get on beef if you took a boneless rib eye, striploin and kept them attached to each other. This is a long piece that includes the center of the rib and the loin section in one). This is where many get confused so keep a rib eye and a New York Strip attached to one another in mind and you’ll remember the center cut pork loin whether bone-in or boneless. A Porchetta roast is often produced from the boneless center cut loin with the skin on and the belly attached, so the whole thing can be rolled.
Finally we come to the pork sirloin where really flavorful chops can be produced from. When the bone is left in it is equivalent to a pin-bone chop and has a lot of flavor. It can be an odd ball in appearance but it offers great value for the likes of a breakfast chop or to make a sirloin roast.
As you can see, there's much potential in the pork loin. If you are looking for absolute value, we'd even suggest buying it whole and including it in a wide array of recipes. Talk to one of the team at Preferred Meats to find out more.