If you eat meat, then you may well share my love for really good crackling...it has got to be one of the best things about having a roast. Well, I reckon I've finally cracked it (excuse the pun)!
Importantly, please, please make sure you're buying really good quality meat that has come from a good place. It really will make a difference (both to your dinner and to the welfare of pigs!)
I tend to shred the pork and bash the crackling up into pieces before bringing it to the dining table, serving it at the table in a dish as pictured so that everyone can help themselves. Naturally I keep a bit of crackling back - chef's perks!
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
- 2kg pork shoulder
- 2 onions, peeled and quartered
- 5-6 garlic cloves
- 3-4 bay leaves
- 2-3 tsp sea salt (I use smoked sea salt from Cornish Sea Salt Co.)
Method (takes 6 hours cooking, so start at 1pm to eat at 7pm!)
- Let the pork come up to room temperature (don't cook it straight from the fridge) and pre-heat your oven to 220c
- Using a sharp knife, score the skin of the pork in a criss cross pattern (or straight across, avoiding butcher's string if necessary!) - you want to go quite deep, without piercing the meat. My butcher tends to do this bit anyway, so I never really need to bother - one of the benefits of buying from a butcher!!)
- Rub the sea salt into the scores really well so that the salt gets into the grooves. This is a vital part of good crackling!
- Pop the pork in a roasting dish, with the skin side up and whack it in the oven for 30 mins. (DON'T put it on a high shelf or the crackling will quickly get burnt...this is something I learnt from experience lately!)
- After 30 mins, remove the pork from the oven and cover it with tin foil. (2 layers of foil works well). Lower the heat to 170c and pop the pork back in.
- Leave the pork in the oven to roast at 170c for 4 and a half hours.
- After 4-5 hours, take the pork out and remove the foil.
- Add the onions, bay and garlic to the roasting dish, and baste the pork crackling with some of the fat.
- Put the whole lot back in the oven for an hour (without foil). Then remove, and leave the meat to rest for 15 mins. This last stint of roasting really finishes off the crackling giving it the crispiness we all dream of!
Top tip - Remove the bay and use the juices and the onions, garlic as the base of a delicious gravy. Just add a little flour to make a roux, then add red wine, stock and a teaspoonful of marmite or a splash of soy sauce. Check out my blog post about making real gravy for more info!