HOW TO BUTCHER PORKPork - Large index of pork processing tips, facts and guides for the consumer. Food safety information, pork cooking hints, and meat buying guide, pork freezer storage chart and more.
In less detail:
Mostly it's pretty easy -- not all that different from a bird, and a lot like a rabbit if you've ever done one. Just bigger. You can do it with a good chef's knife, a stiff boning knife and a meat saw; a heavy cleaver may be useful if you're into "fast and dirty." Sharpen both knives to a fine India, soft Arkansas or < 1000 grit water stone finish. You want the knives' edges very sharp, but not polished. The tip of your boner should be quite sharp too. If you're lucky you won't use it much, but some times tendons are buried deep inside places you'd thought they wouldn't be. Use your steel after every primal (putt, picnic, loin, ham and belly) to maintain your edges. Sharp knives make the difference between "easier than I thought," and "last time I'll ever do this."
Take the front and rear leg primals from the animal, and break them into subs as desired: Cut into the joints at the shoulders and hips, as you would remove a turkey leg quarter. Then work into the ball joints with your boning knife. Finally, pop the bones out at the ball joints, and remove the shoulders and hams. Separate the butt, picnic, hock and foot at the joints -- you may find your cleaver works fastest; and separate the ham, hock and foot at the joints. Reserve everything but the feet. Discard or reserve the feet as desired.
Cut the head off with the saw or cleaver. Separate the jowls and ears. Reserve.
Cut the pelvis from the spine. Discard or save for soup.
Cut the bellies from the vent (behind the last rib). Reserve.
Skin the animal, leaving skin on those pieces you prefer to cook skin-on. Reserve the skin for cracklings.
Remove the tenderloins and take the loins if you want them boneless. If you took the loins boneless, saw the rib cage from the animal by sawing through each side where it joins the spine. Saw through the breast bone, then saw laterally across the rib bones to separate them into spares and back ribs.
If you did not take the loins boneless, saw the breast bone in half, then cut the loin section of the spine (behind the last rib running to the end of the spine) from the larger spine. Then saw the spare ribs from the rib cage.
If you want to break the spare ribs down to "St. Louis," there's a thread on ribs I started in the "general" forum which explains in excruciating detail.
That leaves the loin and the back ribs. Saw the back ribs from the spine. Saw through the spine itself for "sirloin" chips and "center-cut" chops. (The sirloin is towards the tail, the center-cut towards the head)
Take the remaining meat from the shoulder area and the head of the spine and slice into "country ribs." You'll need to do coordinate knife and saw for this.
Trim all fat you can get to easily. Trim anything except the belly with the skin off to 1/4", Take the fat, render, filter and make lard.
Hope this helps,