If anyone ever asks me why I will never become vegetarian, my answer will be “Pork.” Not the lean, boring bits though, but the succulent, tender bits marbled or sandwiched between soft, silky fat. Mmm!
One of the best ways to savour the goodness of pork is through a simple roast. Nothing pretentious. Just a slab of pork seasoned with salt and maybe a little bit of pepper. The highlight is of course the crackling. Perfectly crisp and crunchy with every bite.
The science behind good crackle is not astounding. Just dry skin, a little bit of oil and a decent amount of salt.
ROAST PORK & CRISPY CRACKLING
Roasting time: 1 hr 40 mins
1.8kg rack roast joint*
Mild olive oil
* when selecting a joint for roasting, it’s best to pick one with bones and lots of fat either through the meat or around the meat. The fat gives the meat extra flavour while the bones together with the fat maintain the juiciness. If your budget permits, go for organic, free-range Berkshire pig for the most astounding flavour. If you’re in Perth, check out Spencers Brook Farm.
1. PREPARING THE PORK Take pork out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before roasting to bring it to room temperature. If possible, allow your joint to air-dry in the fridge overnight with the meat covered and rind exposed to dry the skin. The joint I bought was vacuumed packed so all I did was cut a large square over the rind. Preheat oven to 240°C.
2. With a very sharp knife, score your pork at 1.0 cm intervals. Try to go as deep into the fat as possible without scoring the meat. The juice from the meat will escape through the skin and dampen your skin.
3. Season meat with a good amount of salt and a little bit of pepper.
4. Pat dry skin with paper towel. Rub a generous amount of salt all over the rind. The salt will draw moisture out of the rind and as that happens, keep patting it dry. I tend to repeat this step once or twice to really get all the moisture out. Skipping this step may result in teeth-shattering rind, especially if it has not been fridge-dried. Brush excess salt off.
5. Once the rind is sufficiently dry, massage a little bit of oil (~1-2 tbsp) into it. The oil will kick start and encourage the crackle.
6. ROASTING Place your joint onto your roasting tray. I like to add 1 cup of liquid under my roasting tray to prevent the juices burning. Add a coarsely chopped onion to the tray for a really tasty gravy.
7. Pop your roasting tray into the oven. After 10 minutes, turn the oven temperature down to 200°C. Halfway through cooking, you should notice the rind start to form little pocks. If the rind has not done anything after an hour, turn the temperature up to 220°C. I usually alternate between 220°C and 200°C, depending on how my oven is behaving.
8. Once your joint is roasted, cover the meat with tin foil, leaving the crackling exposed. Leave to rest for 15 minutes. Scrape all the drippings from the roasting tray into your gravy.
9. CARVING To carve, use a sharp knife to peel crackling away from the meat. Carve meat into individual chunky chops or thin slices.