Pork crackling seems like one of those simple things to make; you put the pork in the oven and voila! The perfect pork crackling, right? WRONG. Like many simple things in cookery you need to get the basics right for the end result to be mind blowing. Ingredients, heat, moisture, timing, and in this case, seasoning.
Read on for tips and tricks to making pork crackling like a pro, every time, when following our recipe for Tender Fennel Roast Pork with the Ultimate Crackling. Make sure you've got a jar of Crunchy Pork Crackling Rub handy for when it's time to score the pork.
Start this recipe the day before you cook the roast. If you can, pick a piece of meat that hasn't been scored, that has strings only not netting, and that has a really nice, thick skin and fat layer (ideally 1.5 to 2cm). The fat will help to keep the roast moisten and will make your crackling and overall roast much more delicious.
Scoring is arguably one of the most important steps, so take your time and do this thoroughly. Score the skin of your meat in thin strips, approx. 1cm wide, all the way along and running down the sides of the roast. If your pork is netted, you need to remove the netting first. Use a very sharp knife or a stanley knife for this. Cut right through the skin and into the white fat layer, roughly 1cm deep, but not through to the meat.
Place the pork in a colander and into your sink. Slowly pour a full kettle of boiling water over the skin. It should contract the skin between your cuts. Pour the entire kettle's worth of water onto the skin. Remove from the sink and inspect the skin. If there are sections of your scoring that are not coming apart, you haven't scored deeply enough. This can happen especially down the sides. Take the time to score these areas more deeply, then pour some more boiling water on them.
Use a salt rub to season your pork skin. If you omit salt here, the pork will not crackle the same way. The salt reacts with the fat. Crunchy Pork Crackling Rub has the right balance of salt flakes and umami as well as citrus-rich spices and herbs for good crackling and great taste.
Rub 3 to 4 teaspoons of spice into the scored cuts of the skin, right into the cracks, all the way down the sides and on top. You don't want the rub on the skin as it will burn, just in the cuts. Rub the blend all the way in, also on the sides. This is easiest to do if you turn the roast onto its sides.
Refrigerate, uncovered, overnight or for at least several hours. Refrigerating helps to dry the skin out and will yield a crunchier crackling.
Remove the pork from the fridge and let it come to room temperature approximately 30 minutes before you are going to cook it. This will help the meat to stay tender.
Preheat your oven to 220C fan forced. Your oven needs to be really hot and be able to seal well. If it doesn't, consider increasing the temperature of your oven. An oven thermometer can be a good investment if you are unsure of how hot your oven runs.
Make sure your oven is preheated before you put the pork in. The first 30 minutes of cooking is where the magic happens: this is when the crackling crackles. The second part of the cooking when the temperature gets turned down is the cook the meat.
Either rest your pork uncovered or remove the crackling before covering so it doesn't get soft.
We hope you've picked up some of the tips and tricks to making pork crackling. Now, it's time to try the recipe: Tender Fennel Roast Pork with the Ultimate Crackling.