For many of us, pork crackling is the highlight of a roast pork dinner, but not all of us really know how to make pork crackling so it's perfectly crispy every time. This article guides you through all the steps to making roast pork with crackling. There's no single recipe, but there are some common methods and techniques. Provided you start out with a good joint of pork, take time to prepare it and cook it correctly, there should be no reason why you can’t make perfect pork crackling yourself.
How to Make Pork Crackling
Step by step instructions on how to make pork crackling that comes out of the oven perfectly crispy every time you roast pork.
Cooking Pork Crackling
... after some bad earlier experiences
Pork crackling can so often be a disappointment, sometimes downright dangerous to our dental health. A chewy, leather-like consistency is not what we want, but that’s what we sometimes end up with.
When this happened to me, I always used to blame it on the quality of the raw ingredients but I was wrong. I just wasn’t going about things in the right way. A good layer of fat under the skin is essential, but the rind also has to be nice and dry prior to putting the pork joint in the oven.
Follow the simple stages outlined below, like I did, and you'll learn how to make pork crackling like an expert.
If you're looking for some great roast pork recipes, try this page I wrote on Squidoo. Pork belly is probably the ultimate cut for pork crackling, and it's an affordable cut too - Pork Belly Recipes.
Image credit - Polka Pig I by Lisa Hilliker - Buy this at Allposters.com
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How to Cook Pork Crackling
... in seven easy stages
Stage 1 – Start preparations the night before. You can’t expect great results if you plan on taking your pork joint out of its packaging, rubbing a bit of salt into it and popping it straight in the oven. I’ll explain why in steps 3 and 4.
Stage 2 – Scoring. Everybody knows that the pork rind needs scoring, and often a pork joint will come ready scored. This is so that the heat of the oven can get deep into the skin and layers of fat quickly. You can do it yourself if you’ve got a sharp enough knife. A Stanley (DIY) knife with a clean new blade is ideal. I use a scalpel. These seem almost designed for the job, oddly enough. The cuts should penetrate the skin and go into the fat, but not into the meat as a layer of fat is needed to keep this moist. Scores should be about one finger’s width apart, but don’t use an actual finger to measure it as this can be hazardous.
Stage 3 – Scald the rind. Not every recipe you read will suggest this technique. It’s probably borrowed from Chinese cookery where cuts like pork belly are very popular. Pour boiling water over the skin side of the joint. This will shrink the skin and open up the scores. Excessive moisture will ruin pork crackling, so there then follows a period of drying, or desiccation.
Stage 4 – Desiccation. Wait until it cools off a bit then pat the joint with a clean dish towel to remove any visible water. Some recipes suggest you marinade the joint in spices or even vinegar at this stage, but don’t add salt just yet. Leave the joint to dry overnight. You can do this in a variety of ways. Some say you should hang it with a meat hook but it’s probably easiest to wrap it in a clean dry towel and leave it in the refrigerator. Then, an hour or two before cooking, remove it from the refrigerator and leave it uncovered to dry even more. I’ve read that some people use a fan, or even a hair dryer, to help this along.
Stage 5 – Salting. Before you begin salting, set the oven to pre-heat to the max. I’ll explain why next. Rub salt into the pork rind. I’ll leave it up to you to decide how much salt, but don’t be too ungenerous about it. This isn’t a health food recipe after all. Really rub the salt in. You can be quite aggressive and vigorous, or painstaking and gentle, but get the salt deeply into the score lines and all across the skin. Now the pork is ready for the oven, just so long as it’s reached its maximum temperature.
Stage 6 – Roast. Briefly roast your pork joint at the maximum temperature for the first fifteen or so minutes. This is really important. During this time, the heat only penetrates the outer layers of your joint and that includes the rind. After quarter of an hour, turn down the oven to a low to medium temperature and roast for the required time. Usually this is about two to three hours, but that depends on the size and type of joint.
Stage 7 – Everything else. While the pork is roasting, you can focus your attentions on everything else needed for your pork roast dinner – potatoes, vegetables, apple sauce, egg fried rice etc. When the joint is cooked, don’t forget that you need to take it out and let it rest for ten minutes or so before carving. This is usually the time for making gravy. The pork crackling should be crisp but not hard. Try not to nibble too much of it before you deliver it to the table. Leave a bit for your family or guests to enjoy.