Wednesday, 7 May 2008

How to make perfect crackling

It must be Pork Week on Yorkshire Food. On Sunday I had the most fabulous roast pork, the meat all scented with fennel and garlic and masses of fluffy, crisp crackling. And I made it all by myself!

Scotts have to take some of the credit, since the feast started off as 1kg of their boned and rolled pork loin (£7.50ish). It's not true that you need a big joint to make decent crackling, by the way. Though if you love crackling as much as I do you might need a big one to make enough. I take it for granted you will buy decent pork with fat under the skin.

The rules are not complicated. You don't need to get it out of the fridge yesterday and pour boiling water on it. Honestly, it's this easy.

1. The skin has to be properly scored.

If the butcher hasn't done it already, use a sharp knife or Stanley knife to cut incisions through the rind into the fat. You can be rough and ready because you won't see the scoring when it's cooked. About 5mm-1cm apart is right. Simon Hopkinson explains: 'As the fat melts and starts to bubble under the scored rind, it pushes up between the strips, frazzling them.'

2. It needs to be dry.

If you leave it festering in its plastic bag until just before you need it, it will be soggy and end up like leather. Fridges are dry environments, so you could leave it in there, unwrapped, on a plate. Maybe take it out of the plastic bag an hour or so early and blot it hard with kitchen roll.

3. The oven needs to be hot.

I had mine at 240c for the 20 minute sizzle then turned it down to a positively tepid 220 for another 50 minutes. You don't need to worry about the meat drying out - there's too much fat around for that.

It worked fantastically - 100% of the skin crackled. When I carved, it came off the meat like a big moist, airy, crackling tunnel. I had salted it slightly, which helped with the flavour, and rubbed the ends of the meat with a mixture of crushed garlic and fennel seeds. Because it is Yorkshire in spring, I served it with rhubarb, which turns out to beat apple sauce hands down - it is just so much pinker and fruitier.


andrea chiu said...

The food is absolutely amazing. I hope I could taste and cook that in actual, maybe if I have much time since I am so busy working. Anyways, thanks for sharing your article. God Bless and have a good day. Visit my site too.

Dani said...

Thanks - I'll try your recommendations. Have never succeeded in getting perfect crackling :( but this time it's going to be different..!

Barbie Chiu said...

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