How to get the best pork crackling

03 June 2020

Cooking

flavoursome. sticky. spicy. juicy. delicious. smoky. sweet

These are just a few words in the vast world of adjectives that people use to describe foods.

Let’s try: crunchy. golden. noisy. crispy. salty

Most foods are known for their taste, appearance, texture, or colour. But there are few foods that are famed for their sound. Popping candy and toffee springs to mind and maybe apples and raw carrots.

But the loudest and proudest and most noisy of all sound breaking foods just has to be be that pork crackling.

Here at Scottsdale Pork, we are all about providing you with the best quality and tasty fresh pork products. We leave the cooking up to you, so we want you to be confident that you will nail the cooking every time. We also want your guests asking for your secrets.

Essentially - crackling is the rind, the skin that sits above a layer of fat on your pork roast but when scored, dried, salted, oiled – and blasted with high heat, a golden transformation takes place.

Here are our steps for perfecting the cooking of your pork roast and crackling:

Step 1: Score and Shrink

If you are after that undeniable, crispy crunch, it begins with the scoring. Scoring the pork rind allows the heat to penetrate to the fat and to baste the top during cooking as it bubbles up through the cuts – which means added flavour.

Scoring your rind proves easiest at this stage as the rind has not dried out and will still be relatively soft and easy to cut into. Making sure that the piece of pork is cold will also assist in cutting through the firm fat.

After removing your roast from its packaging, pat the skin dry with paper towel. You can then use a sharp knife or Stanley knife to score the rind across the whole length at around 1cm intervals or finger widths apart. Ensuring your knife is sharp will ensure you achieve clean, straight cuts, which will not only appear neater, but will also allow the salt and oil to get in more effectively. (Once your roast is cooked, you can use your scoring lines as a guide when carving your roast.)

When scoring, be careful not to penetrate the fat through to the meat layer otherwise all the tasty juices will escape, leaving you with a less tender result.

When purchasing your Scottsdale Pork roast, you will notice that our expert butchers have already conveniently scored the skin for you, so you can skip most of step 1!

Once you have scored the skin (or taken the already-scored roast from the packaging) place your roast skin side up on a rack in the sink. Pour a cup or more of boiling water over the skin. This will shrink the rind, allowing the incisions to open and enabling the heat, salt, and oil to penetrate deeper. Try to only pour the boiling water over the rind and not over any exposed meat on the roast, as this will dry the pork out.

Step 2: Salt and Dry and Salt

If there is only one thing you take away from this blog – please make it be this: do not ever attempt to roast your pork straight from the bag. Moisture is always retained in the rind and if the skin is too wet, you will not get your crackling.

Drying the rind on your pork roast is one of the most crucial steps in mastering your crackling. After patting your pork roast dry with paper towel, we recommend leaving your roast skin side down on a bed of rock salt in the fridge for at least 24 hours. The salt will help to draw the moisture out and leave you with the ultimate chance of pork crackling perfection.

Remove your roast from the refrigerator 1-2 hours before roasting to allow the pork to come to room temperature.

Drizzle olive oil and rub salt over the pork rind and meat – for best results use your fingers to massage the salt and oil into those scoring cuts. The fat underneath the rind will react with the salt and render down which is what will make the skin burst into puffy crispiness. Not rubbing the salt into the slits of those score marks properly, will leave you with a chewy texture pork crackling.

For added flavour – you could use pepper, garlic powder, paprika or other flavourings of your choice to season the underside of your pork roast.

If time does not allow for 24 hours of drying your rind in the fridge – you could pat dry and use a hair dryer on its cold setting to really dry out that skin. You could also repeat the salt step by removing the salt and re-applying before cooking.

Once your roast has been dried, oiled, seasoned and salted, place the pork on a suitable sized roasting dish and proceed to Step 3.

Step 3: Blast with Heat

Starting off the cooking process with a searing hot oven is the second most important thing after drying the meat.

We recommend cooking your roast at 250°C (230°C fan-forced) for 25 minutes to begin. Keep a watch on the crackling to ensure it will not burn. You want to achieve about 75% of the pork crackling at this stage. Depending on the size of the Scottsdale Pork Roast that you chose – cooking times will vary. After the initial heat blast, reduce the temperature to a medium heat 180°C (160°C fan-forced) for the remainder of the cook. We work on 25 minutes per 450g of pork roast.

We realise this blog is all about that pork crackling, but we don’t want you to be so over-focused on the crackling that you forget the meat and get left with dry textured pork. So if you aren’t happy with the way the skin is looking, but your meat is ready, cut the skin away from the meat and place on a separate baking tray with foil. Brush with a little more oil and a sprinkle with salt. Cook under the preheated hot grill and watch it bubble into crunchy crackling. Do keep a close eye if you complete this step, as it can easily burn.

Your pork should be cooked to a temperature of 71°C (you can remove it from the oven at around 68°C, as it will continue to rise in temperature a little as it rests). If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can check if the roast is cooked by piercing the thickest part of the meat with a knife where juice will run out. If the juices run clear, then your pork is ready.

Step 4: Rest, Carve, Serve

Remove your crackly roast and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes away from the heat before carving. Resting will allow the juices to redistribute through the meat, where they had been pushed to the centre during the cooking process. When you carve, your pork roast will retain more of its juices and give you a more tender result. When resting, leave your roast uncovered otherwise the steam will be trapped and your crackling may lose some of its crunch.

After your pork roast has rested, sharpen your knife, and get carving.

There are hundreds of flavour pairings that work with pork including fennel, apple, quince, pear and sage – just to name a few. But this blog was all about that crackling so we’ll leave you to decide the sides for yourself.

Cooking pork doesn't have to be hard, and we realise that the above instructions and and make cooking pork feel too hard, but we’ve crammed a lot of info in that you may already be aware of. Also - don’t forget your cooks' intuition – and remember practice makes perfect!