How to achieve great pork crackling.
The beloved pork has suffered harshly in the last few years ~ with the terror that surrounded the Swine flu, and peoples assumption that you could “catch” the swine flu from eating pork meat… False on all accounts! Pork has taken a hammering.
I grew up eating pork. It was a part of my weekly diet and came in abundant forms of thick juicy pork sausages, pork hock soup, bacon bone boil-ups and tender pork roasts. Pork crackling was always a treat fought fiercely over by me and my siblings.
One question I am frequently asked when doing cooking classes and demonstrations is how to achieve sensational pork crackling on the Sunday roast ~ to which I now have the definitive answer!
I was fortunate enough to have recently spent time in the test kitchen of Electrolux Australia, where we probed the question of how to attain crackling success.
4 pork roasts, 4 pieces of pork fat and 4 different ovens later ~ the answer to the age old question of good crack is as follows.
Tip number 1
When choosing your pork for roasting, do so from a reputable meat supplier. The more in-depth knowledge that your butcher has over the beast they are selling, the better. Why? The best cracking comes from a female pig ~ so you want to secure your pork roast from a sow.
The female pig meat tends to be sweeter than her male counterpart and also have more fat under the skin ~ which is perfect for crackling!
Tip number 2
When choosing your pork roast, avoid purchasing meat that comes from intense farmed piggeries, but rather choose free- range and if possible organic. The meat will be more tender and relaxed and level of fat will be higher. Due to public demand, the pig breeder has been breeding pigs with less and less fat, so the meat is less tender and forgiving and the crackling harder to get right.
Tip number 3
Choose a pork roast with a good amount of rind still attached, and preferably start the following recipe the day before you intend to dine.
DAY ONE ~ preparation
Lay the pork roast on a chopping board, skin side facing you. Taking a sharp knife, make 5mm incisions in the pork fat ~ slicing down lengths ways. Cut the slices as close together as possible.
Lay the pork loin on a wire rack, skin side still facing upwards and pour 3 cups of boiling water mixed with 1/2 cup of glucose syrup over the fat. Pat the pork dry with a paper towel, and leave uncovered in your refrigerator overnight, as close to the fridge’s fan as possible to help the pork to dry out.
DAY TWO ~ time to roast
Remove the roast from the fridge at least 2 hours before you intend to cook it so it comes up to room temperature. Massage vegetable oil into the rind before seasoning well with sea salt flakes, rubbing the coarse salt into ALL the grooves you had previously sliced into the meat. Try and get as much salt as you can into the grooves.
Preheat the oven on Fan Bake to 240 C/ 460F
Place the pork onto a wire rack with a roasting tray underneath to collect any drips and cook the pork on 240C/ 460F for 20 minutes before turning the oven down to 220C/ 430F and roasting further. The amount of time needed for roasting is dependent on the size of the roast and whether the roast has bones or not.
The rule of thumb is to allow 40-60 minutes per kilo, but a better way to determine when the roast is ready is when it has an internal core temperature of 71C / 160F and the crackling is good and CRISP! If you haven’t got a meat thermometer ~ it would be a worthwhile investment!
Allow the pork to rest on a wire rack, covered with aluminum foil for 20 minutes before slicing.