To get first class crackling; Buy a rind (skin) on Pork shoulder from a good butcher. Supermarket meat is (Mostly) no good because for some bizarre reason they insist on cutting the rind off and removing half the fat. Which is bloody annoying and makes for a distinctly lacklustre dining experience. Why? No idea. Probably some HR type handbag who knows next to nothing about real food has something to do with such decisions. Maybe the idiots at head office have a shit love life and want to take it out on the rest of us. I’ve often observed that bossy people generally have crap love lives, even if they are a Dominatrix. However, that’s their problem.
Notwithstanding. A 2lbs (A kilo) is fine for a modest joint that will provide a meal and sandwiches for the rest of the week for one or two people if sliced thinly. Do not buy if the rind and fat have been removed. Fat is key to the flavour and despite what the ignorant will tell you, is not harmful because ‘dietary’ fat is not that digestible and does not directly convert to body fat or cholesterol.
2lb plus boned Pork joint (Leg or shoulder, ‘Butt’ is also good) See cooking times below.
1 heaped teaspoon sea salt ground fine and floury
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive or other cooking oil
If your joint has been frozen, leave out for at least 24 hours in a fridge to defrost prior to cooking. Ensure joint is dryish by leaving to drain on a grill grid. Pat rind dry with paper towels if you must, but the meat and rind should have as much water drained from them as possible. After defrosting, have the rind scored (cut into quarter inch or 6mm strips or even 3mm if you are brave enough) just so the rind itself is cut through. Do not cut through the underlying fat to the meat. A Stanley or craft knife, the sharper the better, is ideal for this purpose. Now rub with cooking oil (I use Olive oil) and salt with a smidgeon of ground black pepper.and make sure the scored skin is completely dry before rubbing with oil and salt. As for the rub, be generous, say a large pinch (A half teaspoon) of salt and a tablespoon of cooking oil. Put a smear of apple sauce on the underside of the joint, or cook with a large Bramley cooking apple in the roasting pan.
Pre-heat your oven to 230 Celsius (450F) and put prepared joint in a roasting dish, rind upward. When the oven gets to temperature, place roasting pan on the middle shelf for ten minutes. This will ‘set’ the salt in the rind. After ten minutes are up, turn oven down to 180 Celsius (350F) at 22-5 minutes a pound or half kilo. Anything more will dry out the joint and leave you with pork of a flavour and texture resembling cardboard. Use the approximate cooking times below and it should turn out reet champion. The finished joint, when properly cooked, should have a faint pink blush in the centre.
Cooking times and temperatures
2lb (0.9kg) = 10 mins (at 230C / 450F) + @45 mins (at 180C / 350F) + @15 mins (Grill setting at 180 / 350F)
3lb (1.36kg) = 10 mins (at 230C / 450F) + @65 mins (at 180C / 350F) + @15 mins (Grill setting at 180 / 350F)
4lb (1.81kg) = 10 mins (at 230C / 450F) + @90 mins (at 180C / 350F) + @15 mins (Grill setting at 180 / 350F)
5lb (2.26kg) = 10 mins (at 230C / 450F) + @115 mins (at 180C / 350F) + @15 mins (Grill setting at 180 / 350F)
When the ‘cooking time’ has come to an end, stick a skewer into the joint. If the resulting juice runs clear it’s done, and the rind just needs a quick blitz for fifteen to twenty minutes under your ovens ‘grill’ setting to get it to ‘crackle’. If the juice runs pink, depending upon how big your joint is, give it another thirty minutes, if still too red, you forgot to switch the oven on, dimwit.
Keep an eye on the joint in the final stage to get the crackling to your taste. I cannot be held responsible for results if you aimlessly meander off to do something else while you should have had your mind on the job of cooking. Let the phone and the doorbell ring. They’re probably not anyone important. Maybe it’s your countries leading politician promising everything you’ve ever desired or a genie with three wishes. Doesn’t matter, tell them to sod off, you’re busy. This is important.
Cooking can be held as a metaphor for life in general; pay attention and do things properly and you will be rewarded time out of measure. Be forgetful or unfocussed, and your desired outcome will not happen. Thus you will die a withered husk, embittered and resentful and devoid of the sense of species fellowship good cooking makes of all humanity.
For the ideal accompaniment, roast potatoes (roasties) can be produced simply by heating a dish with a little oil in, cut and parboil some potatoes for five minutes then throw into the heated dish. Before returning dish into the oven, flip the potatoes to coat with oil, sprinkle with a little dried Rosemary or Thyme and black pepper. Perchance a mere strinkling of salt. Leave in same oven as joint of pork for an hour and a half or until golden and crispy. Roast parsnips can be prepared in much the same fashion and add a sweet counterpoint to the roasties. Please note; cooking roast potatoes in the same roasting tray as the joint may leave you with soggy roasties, which in my view is not a desirable outcome. Prepare green vegetables of choice. Make gravy in the traditional English manner and Robert is one’s Father’s brother.
When the pork is cooked to perfection, lift off crackling, leave meat to ‘rest’ for ten minutes while finishing off veg and gravy. Lay table, slice joint, humbly accept much deserved praise. Be prepared to fight for a portion of crackling.