As much as I love roast pork I never used to eat the crackling – the thought of fatty pig’s skin didn’t really do it for me! I have to admit to feeling a little disgust when Rob used to chew on it. When he told me I was missing out on the very best bit I was a somewhat disbelieving. But now I’ve tasted golden, crispy crackling I’m a complete convert. The flavour is fantastic and it’s great to crunch on. BUT, if it isn’t crispy you just get a mouthful of fat. Nice.
I’ve noticed, when checking my blog stats to see how people are finding my blog, that there are a lot of people out there on a quest for crispy crackling. So to maybe help those people, here are my tips.
The key is dryness and heat. The skin should be scored to release the fat and help dry it out – get your butcher to do the scoring as the skin is really tough. When you get it home dry the skin off with kitchen paper and then rub salt into it to further dry it out.
Pork belly, which we had tonight, is best slowly roasted, and you need a low temperature for that, but you need a high temperature to crisp up the crackling. So, give it a really high blast of heat for half an hour either at the beginning of your cooking time or at the end, with the time in between at a low temperature.
I find the meat at the bottom of the joint, which is laying on the roasting tin, can become too dry if it is cooked for too long at too high a heat so it’s sometimes a good idea to add a glass of water or wine during the last hour of cooking to prevent this.
If you find the joint is cooked through but the crackling isn’t crispy enough you can always remove the skin from the joint and put the skin back in the oven at a high temperature to really crisp it up. It’s really fine to do this – the crackling usually separates from the joint during carving anyway.
Oh, one final thing. There is one downside to this naughty treat and that would be an aching jaw. But hell, it’s worth it.