Ah pork crackling. Crunchy and salty with a layer of slightly gooey richness just below the surface. It’s that still chewy layer that gets me. Crackling shouldn’t ben bone dry and crunchy all the way through. Unctuous and flavoursome, that layer of fat before the meat is glorious.
My parents opened a roast dinner shop in Bayswater when I was in high school and I was always spoilt with roast meat sandwiches. We had roast chicken, roast lamb, roast beef and the king of roasts, roast pork with crackling. I didn’t take it for granted if that’s what you’re thinking. After all these years, roast pork is still my number one choice when we get roast dinner takeaways.
I’m ashamed to admit I never tried to roast a pork with crackling. Until now.
I searched far and wide for the crackling recipes known to man. And then of course, I took the best recipes and I took a few shortcuts. The recipe below is based mostly on the hands down, best recipe you can find online by Gastronomy Domine. I know, you’re thinking to yourself why would you try my recipe instead of the original. Because 1. I use butter instead of pork fat or goose fat and 2. I think brushing with butter every 30 minutes instead of every 20 is more user friendly.
Things that make this recipe stand of from your mum’s recipe, is the use of a hairdryer. Laugh all you want, but the hairdryer method is genius.
Roast pork with crackling
2kg (4.5 pounds) boneless rolled pork loin
a knob of butter
plenty of salt
- The day before your planned roast dinner, dry your pork thoroughly with a clean tea towel. Make sure any tea towels that touch the raw pork with go straight into the washing basket.
- Score the meat well. It may already be scored, but be sure that there is at least 1 cut for every cm. Use a sharp knife and cut across the short length. It makes slicing a millions times easier. Rub salt into the skin. Plenty of salt. Don’t be shy. You won’t be salting the rest of the meat, so the skin will hold all the seasoning.
- Take a cool hairdryer to the skin of the meat until it is dry. This should take 10 to 15 minutes. Pray your neighbours don’t see you. They might not understand. If you have flatmates/roomies you better warn them what you are doing beforehand, lest they take offense to your strange behaviour.
- When the skin is dry, wrap the meat in a tea towel (you may feel like a mother swaddling her precious) put it on a plate and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, about 3 hours before dinner time, preheat the oven to 220°C/430°F. Yes it’s hot so it is important that the oven reaches this temperature before you start roasting.
- Remove the meat from the refrigerator, unwrap and rub more salt into the skin. Brush the skin generously with melted butter.
- Peel and chop onions into rough cubes and lay on a roasting tray. I used the kind with drainage, but you could use one without. The onions act as a drainage board so the the meat is elevated from the bottom.
- Lay the meat on top of the onions and roast for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 180°C/360°F and cook for a total of 2 hours, brushing with more butter every half hour. Turn the heat back up to 220°C/430°F for the last 10-15 minutes, keeping a keen eye on the roast so that it doesn’t burn.
- Remove the roast for the oven and rest for at least 10 minutes before carving. In the meantime, make gravy from the caramalised onions and meat juices. My gravy recipe is to add 1 heaped tablespoon of flour, a teaspoon of sugar and about a cup of water to the roasting pan juices. Put on the stove on a medium heat and stir briskly with a wooden spoon or whisk until gravy appears. Serve with mash, peas and apple sauce (or whatever you prefer).
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