David experiments with new formulations while working as a chemist and with new recipes while at home in his kitchen.
Roast pork with crackling can be made with any pork cut that contains a generous layer of fat. In this recipe, I use a thin pork loin, but you may also use pork belly (great choice), pork side, ham or pork shoulder. If you can think of any other fatty cut, then feel free to give it a go.
This dish is perfect for a Sunday roast, mid-week pick me up or for an occasional treat. I say occasional, as it is a little calorific due to the high fat content. I guess everything in moderation, as mother dearest always says.
To accompany this dish, you may go for a traditional approach and serve with roast carrots, potatoes and cabbage. If this is down your street, then I’d advise to boil both the carrots and potatoes prior to roasting. In my opinion, boiled potatoes make way better roasties. Boiling gives them a soft and floury exterior that can absorb oil much better. The absorbed oil helps them to crisp up in the oven. The carrots also can benefit from pre-boiling, as they absorb moisture, which helps prevent them from drying out in the oven.
Roast port with crackling is also an ideal choice at dinner parties, well that’s if you get the crackling right. I guess don’t advertise the crackling until you know you have it right. It also proves a great choice as a delicious appetizer or party snack at informal get togethers. In this situation, I would advise to use a thin cut of pork belly and slice the crackling pork into small bite size squares. For convenience, insert a toothpick into each square and serve with a spicy or lemon-based dip. In this setting, a zingy or spicy dipping sauce complements this dish and helps to cut through the fat. Beer helps as well!
If traditional is not your style, you could go for an Asian twist. Prior to roasting, simply rub in a little Chinese 5 spice into the pork meat and pork fat. However, don’t go crazy with this spice as it has a distinctively strong flavour and you don’t want it to overpower the pork. To serve with this dish, you may cook up a simple Asian vegetable stir fry. Even pak choi or any other Asian cabbage is a good choice.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
1 hour 50 min
0.78 kg Roast Pork Loin
- 0.78 kg pork loin, for alternative weight, see step 6. May also use pork belly, side, ham or pork shoulder
- 2 tsp sea salt
- Black pepper
- 2 medium red onions (optional), sliced
- Dried rosemary or thyme (optional)
- Kitchen paper, very important to dry the pork skin
1) Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF), Gas Mark 4.
2) Place the pork loin (or other joint) in a baking tray and pat the surface dry using a piece of kitchen paper. The more moisture removed, the better the crackling.
3) Using a sharp knife, score the surface of the skin/fat. Cuts should be halfway through the fat. If you don't go deep enough, then it will take longer to achieve the pork crackling.
4) Rub the sea salt and pepper over the dried skin. Try to rub some of the salt between the scores to reach the fat underneath. The salt will help to draw out moisture and will improve the crackling.
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5) Optional: Slice two medium red onions and place around the pork loin in the baking tray. Sprinkle a little rosemary or thyme over the onions. The onions and herbs add a subtle flavour to the pork, but the main reason I use these is to flavour the gravy. While cooking, the pork will release yummy flavoursome juices, which can be used to make an easy gravy.
6) Place the pork in the center of the preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes per 1lb (35 minutes per 500g), plus an extra 35 minutes.
7) Check the roast towards end of cooking time. You should have crackling at this point. If crackling is not complete, no worries, simply move the roast onto a higher shelf and increase the oven temperature to approx 200ºC (400ºF), Gas Mark 6. Check every 5 minutes until you have achieved sufficient crackling. Make sure not to burn!
8) When complete, place the roast pork onto a cutting board and leave it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes, or longer depending on its size.
9) After resting, simply carve the pork into slices. I usually carve between the grooves in the crackling.
10) If you wish, you may use the tasty pork juices to make a very simple gravy. See below for details.
11) To make the gravy, first remove the onions from the roasting tin. If you wish to serve these with the pork, make sure to squeeze out the excess juices and oil first.
12) Tilt the tin at an angle and let the juices collect in the corner. Using a spoon, ladle off the fat layer. The fat will remain on the surface.
13) When the fat layer is removed, pour the pork juices into a small cooking pot. Add a stick of butter, a little milk and/or cream (approx 1 tbls of each) and a little water (approx 2 tbls). The quantities may be adjusted depending on the size of pork roast and the amount of juices collected. To this liquid mixture, add half of a beef stock cube and 1 tsp of corn flour, sieved. Alternatively, you may use plain flour.
14) On a medium-high heat, cook this mixture for approximately 5 minutes. At this point it should have reduced slightly and thickened. If not, cook for a little longer or add a little extra flour.
Questions & Answers
Question: If there is leftover roast the next day, will the crackling stay crisp when reheated?
Answer: It depends on how much moisture is present in the pork. If moisture soaks into the crackling overnight, then the crackling may soften. If you expect to have leftovers, then I would recommend cutting the crackling from the pork after cooking. If it still goes a little soft after this then you may place the crackling by itself under the grill to crisp back up.
© 2017 David Branagan