To give cooks more lean, quick, affordable options, the National Pork Board is introducing four new cuts that they hope will be available soon in supermarkets nationwide. Perhaps inspired by the beef industry’s success with steaks like the flatiron, which is cut from the inexpensive beef chuck, food scientists have isolated new cuts from the pig’s shoulder and leg—two parts of the animal that command a much lower price than the loin cuts.
There’s the cap steak, a thin piece from the hind leg, that reminds me of skirt steak, with its long, visible grain. (Like skirt steak, it’s great on tacos.) The petite tender is like a mini-tenderloin but with more flavor, much like beef’s teres major steak—a cut they sell at Fleisher’s butcher shop in upstate New York as “faux filet.” I recently took home the pocket roast, a two-pound chunk from the upper portion of the leg. Unfortunately, the meat was prebrined—no lovingly-raised, heirloom-breed stuff here. Besides that chemically salty taste that masked any flavor the meat might have had, I really liked the cut: It’s easy to roast in a 10-inch skillet (I browned it on the stovetop first, then transferred it to a 400° oven) and would easily serve a family of four, most likely with leftovers for sandwiches. The Pork Board hopes to turn the pocket roast (great name, by the way) into the next rotisserie chicken, since it’s easy for stores to roast on a small spit. As long as I can find versions made with better quality pork, I raise a Cubano sandwich to that.