Crispy, Crunchy Crackling.
Crispy, Crunchy, Salty Crackling.
And underneath, juicy meltingly tender roast pork.
Don't you just love crackling. Firstly it is delicious! Secondly it demonstrates the beauty of cooking. The rind or skin isn't the most appetising part of a pork joint. But after some basic prep and appropriate cooking you are left with perfection. Salty, crispy, crunchy crackling perfection.
If my Dad is carving the pork, you are lucky if any crackling makes it to the table. He is a renowned picker. In my house I am cook and carver, and although I do pick at the crispy crackling (I inherited the picker gene and it is a cooks perk!!!) I know that I would never hear the end of it, if I served Stew roast pork without the crackling. And I mean never hear the end of it!!!! It would be on Facebook and brought up every time we had roast pork, for-EVER!!! So if there is pork there is crackling. Although I do sneak plenty whilst carving 😳
I like my crackling to be crunchy, I know there are some that prefer a slightly softer crispness (can you get a softer crispness???) perhaps a better way of describing it would be a softer bite, but still the crunch. I love it to make a snap when I eat it, to be crunchy so that I can eat it like a chip (crisps for my English family). There is nothing more disappointing that a chewy crackling. It ruins the whole meal, crackling is the point of pork. To not have crackling is like taking a roast chicken and throwing the skin in the bin before you eat it.
For many years crackling was the only reason I would think of cooking a joint of pork. I was never sold on the meat, but the crispy skin was a must. That is before I started roasting belly pork. This fatty cut, when cooked long and slow, gives you amaaaaaaaaaaaaazing crackling and soft, juicy succulent meat.
The key to great crackling is dry skin, a layer of fat and salt. After that, it is all down to the oven to work the magic. Your job is done, all you have to do is sit back and wait patiently (or not) for your last 2 minute task. Then welcome to food heaven. This is my basic roast pork recipe, I often cook this with various flavour variations, but essentially the method is the same.
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Roast Pork with Crispy Crackling
- 1 kg Belly Pork
- 1 teaspoon Salt pouring salt or table salt - not chunky rock salt
- Score the skin of your pork. Ideally you want lines about 1cm apart. Most supermarket pork is already slightly scored. If this is the case take the point of your knife and give the pork a good stab all over. You want to pierce the skin and the fat, but not go through to the flesh.
- Boil a full kettle and pour all of it over the skin of the belly pork.
- Dry off the skin and place the pork, uncovered, in the fridge for at 3-6 hours. Remove it from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking.
- Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan forced/Gas Mark 7.
- Rub the salt into the skin of the pork. Really knead it in, making sure every bit of the skin has been given a good massage.
- Place the belly pork on a rack over a roasting tin lined with tin foil. (Or do as I do and place a rack inside a disposable roasting tin, it makes clean up as easy as opening the dustbin.)
- Slide into the middle of the oven. Immediately turn the oven down to 160°C/140°C fan forced/Gas Mark 3
- Roast the belly pork for 3 hours.
- After this time your meat will be tender and the crackling should be nice and crisp.
- Pre-heat your grill and give the pork 2-8 minutes to puff and crisp some more. Exact timings are hard as each grill is so different. My gas grill at Rickety Cottage heats up almost instantly and crisps the crackling in under 2 minutes. The electric grills in both our rental houses weren't as powerful and took at least 7 minutes.
- This is not the stage to answer the phone, door or lay the table. Watch your pork. It will puff like a rice crispy! But you don't want it to burn. This 6 hour recipe has been pretty much effort free, for these 2-8 minutes it's time to work for your supper!