This isn’t really a recipe, just a few hints I have picked up over several years of hit and misses. We have had some good, and some pretty awful, pork cracklings in my house, but I am improving – more hits than misses these days!
The first thing you need to do, is to make sure the rind is thoroughly dry. You need to start preparing the day before you plan on roasting the joint.
Get a plate big enough to put your piece of pork on, and cover it with salt. Just cooking salt or even table salt will do, so long as it is finely ground, not rock salt. Using a paper towel, ensure that you have wiped as much moisture as possible from the rind, and then place it RIND SIDE DOWN on the salt. This is important, salt will draw the moisture out, so make sure that the salt doesn’t get on the meat, only the rind. If you have time, after several hours, repeat the process.
The salt draws the moisture out of the rind and it settles on the plate, so if you can change the plate (maybe just before you go to bed) you will get rid of some moisture instead of the rind sitting in it.
If you look closely at the above picture, you can see the salt, I should have used a coloured plate to contrast.
The next day, preheat the oven to a high heat, I usually make sure the oven is at least 220c celcius, take the pork off the plate, and wipe the accumulated moisture from the rind. Then score the rind, rub it with olive oil, and salt it again. Place meat side down, in a dish and when the oven is hot, place it in the hot oven. The oven must be hot to make the oil and salt do their work on the rind. After 20 minutes, turn the heat down to whatever heat you will be cooking at (usually around 180 degrees celcius) and cook for the appropriate time for the weight of the meat.
When the pork is ready, cut the rind from the meat before you rest it – if you cover it, the crackling will start to go soggy. You can then cut it into pieces (I use kitchen scissors) while the meat is resting. If something has gone wrong, you can repair it. Sometimes I find that the top of the rind has crackled nicely, but the bits that were lower down in the dish are still a bit rubbery. To fix this, I heat a frypan (no added oil) until it is nice and hot, then put the rind face down in the pan and cook a bit longer. This is messy, it spits every where and sometimes I get hit by flying sizzle, but it usually works. If the rind starts to curl, hold it down with something like a potato masher so it remains semi flat. Even if you singe it a little, it will still be nice and crackly.
In my house, I have to hide the crackling until we are all sitting down, or the taste testers keep stealing it!