Allow me to let you into the secret of how to get perfect pork crackling every time. Salty, crispy and yummy!
Note:- Crackling means different things in different countries and if you're reading this in America and expecting pork cracklings then head over here to my pork cracklings recipe.
For the rest of the planet (I joke) I'm referring to the skin on a rolled roasting joint like the one you can see in the picture above.
Now I know this is a barbecue themed website and I've prepared my perfect pork crackling above on the spit but don't worry if you're planning to use your oven, the rules apply for roasting just as much as they do if you’re planning to use the BBQ rotisserie or indeed cook indirectly in your grill.
Consistently getting perfect pork crackling is quite a challenge but in essence whatever way you are going to cook your pork, the bottom line is that it’s all about the moisture content in the skin and then heat.
Each one of the steps below is designed to remove moisture and ensure that the skin is as dry as possible so the timing of each of the steps below is important.
When you get back home from the butcher, place your rolled pork on a plate and let it sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours and do not cover. This allows the skin to dry out naturally by evaporation and without this step you really will fight a loosing battle.If you want to leave it in for 48 hours then be my guest!
For extra attention, pat the skin with a paper towel.
Note:- You will find that water runs out of the pork joint whilst it is sitting so make sure your plate is big enough to catch all the moisture (or use a shallow bowl) and empty the contents on a regular basis into a jug. You can keep this liquid for use in the gravy.
Your butcher will do this for you but I prefer to do it myself because I find that the butcher doesn't usually score it as thinly as I like.
It’s really important to score into the fat under the skin but not as deep as the flesh. This means that when you heat the joint, the fat renders out onto the skin but the moisture in the meat remains inside keeping the meat succulent.
Just before cooking rub salt into the scored skin and this will help release any more moisture from the fat. It's important however to ensure that you do this just before the joint goes on your spit or in the oven because that way the water which leeches out of the fat is immediately evaporated by heat of the BBQ / oven.
If you do it say 30 minutes before cooking then water will leech out of the fat and dampen the skin so you would have done the 24 / 48 hours in the refrigerator for nothing.
A lot of fat will drip off so if using charcoal, make sure that you have prepared the coals well in advance. The best is to have the heat applied from the side as this prevents flare ups so if using a gas grill site your pork in the centre of the spit rod and use the burners to each side of the grill.
If you can do your pork on the rotisserie with the heat to the side works well because the skin is getting intense direct heat so I have to say that I recommend this as a great way of cooking rolled pork.
If you are going to do it indirectly (or in the oven) then a super hot oven is needed in the first instance to scorch the skin. The first 20 minutes of cooking need to be at 220°C or 430°F and after that the oven can be turned down to a more moderate 180°C or 360°.
If you check the pork prior to turning the oven down you'll see that the skin has already bubbled but if it hasn't don't turn the heat down for another 10 minutes and check again.
Never put anything else in the same oven as the pork because this will only add moisture. Roast the pork solo so that you can maintain the dry heat.
If you follow the tips above then you’ll get perfect pork crackling every time. Good luck!