This post was inspired by Alvin of Cinnamon Pig and Masterchef Australia and I even stole his title wholesale so all credit to him.
Like Alvin pork is by far my favourite meat and its largely because I adore the mouth feel and juiciness of the pork fat in pretty much all of it’s forms.
Crackling is something that many give up on getting right but it is possible to do it without drying out your meat.
If going for a roast definitely choose a joint with a good thick layer of fat and score the rind or get your butcher to do this for you, I adore belly pork for its flavour and low-cost to meat ratio but over Christmas I’m a traditional and like a ham.
The principal for great crackling is the same for any cut and I even do this for pork chops to get that crispy juicy mouth feel.
Get some water boiling in a pan on the stove, it only needs to be as deep as your layer of fat and sear the fat and scored rind for 30 to 60 seconds, this will get the cooking process started and the juices flowing. If cooking pork chops just pat dry salt and fry or grill them as normal with a little extra attention to the fat at the end.
If cooking a ham or larger roast, dry thoroughly with kitchen towel, salt thoroughly making sure you get it into all of the cuts and if possible refrigerate over night. (just as a tip, submerging chicken into boiling and then ice water and refrigerating overnight will also result in delicious crispy skin)
If cooking my Christmas Ham I like to stud the skin in all of the cracks with whole cloves, Glace cherries and pineapple chunks before roasting at 250+C (480F) for 20 minutes before turning the heat right down and cooking slowly until done, use a meat thermometer to ensure the centre reaches at least 66C (150F) and the juices run clear.
If your crackling isn’t perfect at this point then a couple of minutes under a hot grill at the end or skin down in a hot frying pan should finish it off.
For smaller joints I have removed the skin and fat and given it a head start before placing it back in approximately the right place and cooking as normal to avoid drying out the rest of the meat.
I’d love to hear how you get your crackling right and about your plans for your Christmas ham.
Mr Bunny Chow