There’s nothing quite like the crack, crunch, and snap of crispy pork crackling on Christmas day. But for eons, even the most seasoned home cooks have struggled with crackling. However, if you follow this foolproof method, rubbery, chewy pork rind won’t be on your table this Christmas.
First up—choose a cut of pork that is suitable for crackling. For example, shoulder, loin, or belly cuts work well (rind-on, of course). Take the pork out of the packaging and pat the skin dry with some paper towel. Then place the pork in a tray, and in the refrigerator uncovered, for at least 2 hours. Keep the pork in the fridge overnight for best results, but for no longer than 24 hours.
Now, preheat your oven to around 210C fan-forced, and remove your pork from the fridge. Pat the skin dry once again (for good measure). And poke (don’t score) the skin with a sharp knife or metal skewer. Note: take extra care not to pierce the fat or flesh under the skin, or else your crackling won’t crackle!
Season as desired, and wrap your pork in aluminium foil, covering the flesh but leaving the skin exposed. Drizzle a conservative amount of olive oil over the skin. Now, layer rock salt (with large crystals) all over the exposed skin, about 2 inches thick (this is very important, and don’t worry, we’ll be removing this later).
Place your pork in the oven and roast it until it’s almost done. Cooking time will vary depending on your chosen cut and could be anywhere from 1 to 3 hours. Remove your pork once it’s nearly cooked and place it on a heat-proof chopping board.
Change your oven setting to grill on medium (if your oven has a grill function). Discard the foil and scrape the layer of salt from your pork with a knife. Pop the pork back in your baking dish and place it under the grill (at least 30cm away from the element, possibly on the lowest oven rack).
Grill for around 30-40 minutes, turning where necessary and watching closely as your crackling appears! Remove the pork when all the skin has turned golden, puffy, and crispy.
Rest your pork for around 10 minutes, then serve! And don’t forget to gather your family around to hear the crunch as you cut into your home-cooked, perfectly crackled pork.
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