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On Perfect Crackling

Published on December 16, 2013

Image: Unattributed

Ah, the search for perfect crackling. There a few things finer than a joint of roast pork with crispy crunchy crackling with a meltingly smooth layer of unctuous fat underneath. In contrast, there a few things as disappointing as receiving tough chewy, leather-like pieces of what purports to be crackling - the anticipation, the expectation, the salivation all dashed on the shores of disapppintment.

The reality is that making great crackling is relatively simple and provided you follow a few basic rules you should get perfectly delicious crackling every time.

Rule 1 - ensure that the skin is well scored. The scoring should cut through the skin and into the fat beneath but not into the meat. 

Rule 2 - the skin must be dry. 

Rule 3 - the oven must be pre-heated and hot hot hot!

Okay, so now we have the rules, let's get a little more detailed. Outlined below is the method that I use to make perfect cracklimg.

  1. Between 30-45 minutes before you want to start cooking, set your oven to a very high heat.
  2. Take your roasting joint and ensure that it is well scored - use a sharp knife or stanley knife and score diagonally across the skin, ensuring that you get through to the fat beneath. The scores should be about 1cm apart. All our joints with crackling are pre-scored but it is worth rescoring them to ensure that they are deep enough.
  3. Pat the skin dry with kitchen towel and rub generously with good quality sea salt. Cover with a clean towel and leave to air dry for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Using some more kitchen towel, rub the skin down again and re-apply a generous amount of sea salt. Really rub the salt in.  Hopefully, the skin is now very dry but if there is still some humidity then here's a little a trick - use your hairdryer to gently dry out the skin surface!
  5. Place the joint, skin side up, into a shallow roasting tin and place in the very hot, pre-heated oven. 
  6. Cook for 30 minutes and then reduce the heat and continue to cook for normal times (the time and temperature will vary depending on the choice and size of cut).  Our Organic Porc Noir is best served moist and slighly pink. It is best if the pork is the only thing roasting in the oven - potatoes and other vegetables give off a lot of steam when cooking which is detrimental to the crisping process of crackling. You can roast the potatoes whilst the meat rests after cooking.

If for some reason the above method doesn't get you perfect crackling then don't despair! There a couple of tricks that can work to recover the crackling -  I would only advice using one of these not all three:

Trick 1 - remove the meat from the oven and turn the oven back to very high. When it is back to temperature re-introduce the joint for another 10-15 minutes. Obviously there is a risk with this method as it is easy to over-cook the meat.

Trick 2 - remove the meat from the oven and then remove the skin/crackling form the meat. Increase the oven temperarture and re-introduce the skin/crackling by itself for 10-15 minutes or until crisped.

Trick 3 - remove the meat from the oven and then remove the skin/crackling and place on a plate. Now micro-wave the crackling until it is blistering and popping.

And that's it! Follow these few steps and you should have perfect crackling every time!


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