Get Pork Crackling Right.

 

This is the first of our “Cook it Right’ posts, designed to pass on a little of our insider knowledge and show you how to cook your meat to juicy, tender, melting perfection.

We are starting off with a one of those meaty treats that is pretty close to our hearts; the amazing crunchy crackling that sits atop a joint of roast pork. Get this right, and you've added significantly to your arsenal of kitchen tricks that make dinnertime extra special. This pork crackling recipe will work every time.


The Joint

Choosing the right pork joint is half the battle. A good crackling joint needs to have a thick rind with a layer of softer fat underneath to keep the meat juicy. Several cuts of pork will work a treat, but the end result will taste different:

Loin

A loin of pork will make excellent crackling as it has a layer of rind and fat running over the top of the joint. The meat itself is very lean with little or no fat running through it. This is a prime cut and very tender, so will require the least cooking of the three.

pork loin for crackling

Shoulder or Leg

Both working joints, these are fattier cuts that require low and slow cooking. The resulting meat will be juicy but can be very tough (even inedible)  if undercooked

shoulder of pork crackling

Belly

The fattiest joint by far, belly meat has wide ribbons of fat and sinew running through the meat, which, when cooked correctly, make this joint very juicy and tender. The layer of fat running over this joint can also result in amazing crunchy crackling.

rolled pork belly

Whatever cut you go for, don’t forget, it’s all about the rind!

Preparation

The next stage is to prepare the joint properly to get the most crunch for your crack(ling). We have tried a few cracking prep methods in our time, but this has become our favourite as it is minimal effort but the results are mega!

STEP 1: The night before you plan to cook the joint, scald the rind by pouring boiling water over the surface. The sudden heat forces the rind to shrink, pulling it away from the meat. Pat the meat dry with a clean tea towel then leave the meat uncovered in the fridge to dry out completely.

STEP 2: A couple of hours before cooking, remove the meat from the fridge, as it needs to be cooked from room temperature. Score the rind of the pork deeply at regular intervals, and rub a liberal amount of salt into the newly created cracks and crevices of the rind

Cooking

Preheat your oven to its maximum temperature - good crackling needs heat! Put your joint into the oven for 20-30 mins undisturbed, until you can start to see the rind puffing up,  before turning the temperature down to something a little more reasonable.

If you have gone for belly, shoulder or leg joints, wrap the joint in tinfoil (leaving the rind uncovered) and cook it low and slow - 170°C/ gas mark 3, for 2-6 hours, or until the meat can be pulled apart with a fork. Baste the rind regularly with boiling fat from the pan.
If you have gone for a loin joint, turn the oven down to 180°C/gas mark 4 and cook for around an hour, basting the rind regularly with boiling fat from the pan. The meat should be cooked until the juices run clear and of course the pork crackling should be crunchy perfection!  If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should be 71°C.

pork crackling The finished joint of crackling pork!

 

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