What Is Pork Secreto?
I noticed this interesting cut of pork in the fresh meat counter at Belcampo Meat Co. in Palo Alto, CA (before the location closed in March 2019). The butcher said it was equivalent to “pork brisket”, a “butcher’s secret” that they grilled for themselves behind the restaurant.
Good enough for them? Good enough for me!
When I got home, I searched the Interweb and found several definitions for pork secreto: the aforementioned pork brisket; pork skirt steak; a strip of pork hidden under belly fat; a cut that resides behind the shoulder; and a cut between the shoulder, ribs, and fatback.
So maybe “pork secreto” can be any number of things. In the end, I trusted the butcher that fabricated and sold the cut, as well as my own eyes, and decided that it looked like a tiny brisket weighing 1.25 pounds.
The butcher said this was a Duroc-Berkshire crossbreed, so a quality piece of pork.
It consists of two parts, like a beef brisket, but in the opposite configuration. In a beef brisket, the fatty portion comes from the chest and the lean portion is towards the belly. In a pork secreto, the fatty portion comes from the belly and the lean portion comes from the chest as part of the picnic…or so I’ve read.
How To Grill Pork Secreto
I found online suggestions for braising and roasting, and Daniel Vaughn at Texas Monthly magazine did a couple of them low & slow, but I found a Steven Raichlen recipe that seasoned it simply with kosher salt, black pepper, and smoked paprika and grilled it quickly…so I decided to do that.
Astute readers will notice that I grilled this guy over charcoal. Sorry, it was my intention to grill it on my Weber Summit 450, but I was low on propane that day. However, there was nothing about grilling this cut that could not have been done on my Weber gasser, or yours for that matter.
I was unable to grill it as quickly as Raichlen did (suggested 2 minutes per side over medium-high direct heat, then a 2 minute rest). Mine was thin around the edges and over 1″ thick in the middle, so I did some indirect grilling, then some direct searing, then more indirect grilling.
Here’s how the pork secreto looked as it came off the grill. The center was about 140°F, but the thinner edges and ends were well beyond that.
I let the meat rest for several minutes then sliced it thin, on the bias and across the grain.
Here’s a view of one of the slices. It was delicious and tender, kind of like a properly cooked tri-tip roast…not tender like beef brisket nor tender like pork tenderloin. A bit more chew, but very nice. Maybe a little overdone, but still moist and juicy.
Pork secreto is not a cut of pork you’re going to stumble across at the supermarket. You’ll have to seek it out from a specialty butcher if you want to give it a try. As for me, if I’m back at Belcampo Meat Co. someday and see another pork secreto, I’d certainly give it another try, maybe cooked to a lower internal temperature.