Two Tails Smoked Pork Parts
Salt curing followed by smoking has been a standard method of preserving parts of pigs for thousands of years. Today it is no longer simply a strategy for preservation, though it does extend the refrigerated life of many meats. Today it is valued mainly for the flavor and texture it imparts.

Smoking has long used been used from the British Isles all they way to China. Smoking was also used by the American Indian, but they had no pigs, and in general they didn't have the salt for proper curing. Dry smoked, uncured buffalo just isn't going to be same.

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By our current methods, meat is almost never just smoked. It is first cured with salt. Using a dry process, a very small amount of potassium or sodium nitrate (saltpeter) is added to the salt to enhance flavor, produce an attractive color and protect the meat from bacteria. Using a wet process, an even smaller amounts of sodium or potassium nitrite is used for the same purpose.

Two Slices of Bacon Perhaps the most popular and flavorful cured pork product is bacon - salt cured and usually smoked pork belly, Many favor it with an almost religious devotion. There is also Back Bacon, called "bacon" in the British Isles and much of Canada, and called "Canadian bacon" here. It is more like a bland ham than like real bacon and is not worthy of religious devotion, but is sometimes an acceptable breakfast ingredient if not overcooked. There are other kinds as well, including Chinese and Hungarian bacon, so bacon is a large subject so it has its own Bacon page.

Ham Slice of Virginia Ham

Ham is properly a pig's hind leg, but the term is also sometimes used for cured shoulder. It may be fresh, but is most often cured in salt brine and may then be smoked. Hams are cured throughout most of the world, including China, but excepting Israel and the Muslim regions. Hams are a major subject and have their own Hams page.

Smoked Ham Hocks Two Ham Hocks

These are available in the refrigerated cases of most well stocked markets as they are still much favored in the American South. They take a fair amount of cooking to be edible and are often used as a flavoring ingredient in soups and stews. Personally I like to boil them up, then refrigerate them and use them as snacks, cutting off a piece now and then. Find more detail and cooking information see our Ham Hocks page.

Smoked Pork Loin Two Slices Smoked Loin

This is a common recipe ingredient. It is much milder than the other smoked products on this page, lightly cured and lightly smoked. It has fairly good refrigerated shelf life and will be found in the refrigerated cases of well stocked meat departments. It is made from the loin, which is where pork chops come from, so the meat has a relatively mild flavor itself. This makes for an ingredient that will provide some smoked meat flavor but not overwhelm a recipe. The photo specimens were 5 inches by 5 inches and 1/2 inch thick. Note that these slices are bone-in, whereas the very similar Canadian bacon would be without bones.

Smoked Pork Tongues Whole and Cut Pig Tongues

These tongues had both good firm texture and excellent flavor for use as sliced snacks. They were 6 inches long and weighed 4.2 ounces each. These were purchased at a large multi-ethnic market in Los Angeles for US 2015 $5.79 / pound. Made by Mama Vickey's Foods in North Hollywood, California. Ingred: Pork tongue, salt, cure #1.

Smoked Pork Ribs Block of Smoked Pork Side

You want flavor? We have flavor, right here. The photo specimen is from one end of a slice of pork side about 3-3/4 inches wide and 2-1/2 inches thick. The whole piece was about 14 inches long and cut from the spare ribs part of the pig. The slice includes the ribs, bacon layer and skin. It's bacon cured and strongly smoked. Roasted it is awesome. Roasting method right here: Smoked Pork Ribs, Roasted.

Cured Pork Tenderloin Whole Pork Tenderloin

This cut is found on the inside side of the loin and often processed as a separate part. While the uncured tenderloin is mild in flavor, this product is meant as a snack item, so the cure is quite distinct and it ends up tasting similar to a fairly strongly flavored ham. The photo specimen was 10 inches long, 2-1/2 inches across the big end, and weighed 14-1/8 ounces. Cured with water, garlic, salt, sugar, sodium nitrite.

Smoked Pig Tails Two Pig Tails

These are available in the refrigerated deli cases of well stocked markets, particularly those serving European or American Southeast communities. Properly made they have very good flavor and will be appreciated by people who enjoy gnawing on things. It's best to slice the skin into bite size squares before starting to gnaw. Tails actually have a fair amount of meat on them.

Smoked Neck Bones Three Neck Bones

Unlike pig tails, these are not good for gnawing on. They have plenty of meat but no skin, and the meat is almost impossible to get at until cooked so well if falls off the bones. These are an excellent ingredient for flavoring soups and stews. When simmered for 2-1/2 hours or so, the meat can easily be picked off, returned to the pot, and the bones discarded. These can be found in the refrigerated deli cases of well stocked markets, particularly those serving an American Southeast community.

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©Andrew Grygus - - Photos on this page not otherwise credited © cg1 - Linking to and non-commercial use of this page permitted