6 tips for making the crispiest pork crackling
Here’s how to make crispy pork crackling in 6 easy steps – perfect for your festive celebrations!
Brought to you by SA Pork
That undeniably crunch-filled flavour-loaded crackling bite is the ultimate payoff we all look forward to after patiently waiting for a festive pork roast to finish off in the oven! If you’re a true crackling fan, you’ll know just how disappointing soggy crackling can be, but now you can banish bad crackling for good with these cracking crackling tips:
1. The right cut of pork
Crackling is all about the skin and fat, so it all starts with using the right cut. Cuts like pork belly, pork leg or pork shoulder (with or without the bone) are all good for when you’re looking to make a festive roast with perfectly crisp crackling.
Scoring the fat ensures that as the fat melts, the liquid comes up to the surface and bastes the skin as it cooks.
When scoring, it’s important to be precise and cut all the way through both the skin and the fat. Be cautious not to pierce the fleshy part of the meat, as this could be detrimental to the crispy crackling finish and the meat could dry out.
One of the most important steps when it comes to achieving crispy crackling is to make sure the skin is dry before it goes into the oven. You really want the skin and fat to be as dry as possible – moisture is the enemy here!
The easiest way to make certain that the skin and fat are dry is to refrigerate the piece of pork uncovered for 4 hours or overnight. If you’re really pushed for time, allow it to chill uncovered for a minimum of 1 hour.
Alternatively, rub a liberal amount of salt into each of the scores, leave to sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes, then pat dry with a paper towel, removing as much of the moisture and salt as possible.
Marinade amps up the flavour of your roast, but it also adds too much moisture to the skin and fat, ruining the potential for great crackling. Make sure the marinade doesn’t touch the top layer of skin or fat by cutting them away from the meat and roasting separately. You could also reassemble with kitchen string before cooking, allowing the meat to marinate separately from the crackling before cooking together.
When crisp crackling is involved, the only two ingredients you’ll really need are salt and a small amount of oil. Never skip out or skimp on the salt! Not only does it help absorb any remaining moisture on the skin, but it also adds flavour. (The only time you’ll want to add a little less salt is if you opt for the quick-dry option using salt in step 3 and didn’t manage to remove all of it.)
Dry spice rubs can also be used to add extra flavour but, as with a wet marinade, try to use it only on the meaty part of the pork. For the best crackling results, season the skin and fat with salt only.
Starting the cooking process off with a high blast of heat is probably the second most important step when it comes to making perfectly crispy crackling – thereafter you can lower the heat and cook accordingly.
As a general rule of thumb, it takes 30-35 minutes per 500g (at about 180ׄ°C), plus around 30 minutes on high (around 220°C) at the beginning to cook a joint of pork. Oven temperatures vary, so just make sure to keep a close eye!
The pork will be cooked when the juices run clear; if the juices are still pink, it still needs to cook for longer. You can also use a meat thermometer – once the internal temperature reaches 75°C, the pork is ready to rest before being served and enjoyed!