Pork crackling

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.

Preparing the pork

Preparing the pork

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.

Crackling

Crackling

In my house, I have to hide the crackling until we are all sitting down, or the taste testers keep stealing it!

 

Christmas in July Part Two – Roast Pork dinner & mini puddings

Santa, please stop here....

Santa, please stop here….

Firstly apologies for posting this right at the end of July, but it has been cold and the fire in the front room  has been too tempting, so the computer has been neglected.  Anyway, I cooked a lovely roast pork dinner the other night, with crackling, gravy, apple sauce, roast potatoes, roast beetroot, devilled carrots and peas.  I followed this up with mini puddings – Strawberry and White Chocolate.  Phew, did I need a nap afterwards!

Roast Pork with Gravy, Vegetables and Applesauce

Roast Pork and Trimmings

Roast Pork and Trimmings

 

I used an easy carve pork roast – it was all meat and fat (for crackling) – no bone.  I know the bone is supposed to add lots more flavour, but I hate carving, so it was an easy option.

I haven’t specified quantities for the meat and vegetables as this will depend on the size of the crowd you are feeding.  For five people I used a piece of pork that was 1.7kg, three whole beetroots, three small potatoes a person, four carrots and about two cups of potatoes.  We had some leftovers (although no potatoes – they always seem to go quickly!)

Pork

Preheat the oven so that it is really hot.  Try about 250 degrees celcius.  While it is heating, slash the rind on the pork a few times – about 3 – 4 cm apart.  Don’t cut too deeply, but you have to break through the skin.  Rub a good oil over the rind, I prefer olive, or extra virgin olive.  Then rub salt in all over the oiled surface.  You can then put the pork in a baking dish.  Sometimes I sprinkle herbs over the meat, sage is good with pork, it depends on what else I am cooking.  When the oven is hot, put the pork in, uncovered (if you cover the dish or put the pork in an oven bag, the rind will go rubbery).  Cook on high heat for about 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 190 or 180 for fan forced.  You should then cook the pork for about 20-30 minutes for each 500g of meat.

With about and hour and a quarter to go until serving, put the beetroot in the oven – see below for method.

Check it at the earliest time by using a skewer and if the juices run clear, it will be cooked.  If the crackling is done at this point, you can cut it off and put it aside.

At this point you need to get the peas, carrots and apples prepared and start cooking them.  Once they are on, you should mix the puddings and get them ready.

After it is cooked, take it out of the oven, cut the crackling off if you haven’t already, cover it loosely and let it rest for at least half an hour.  Leave the baking dish aside with the pork fat in it, you will need this for the gravy.

Crackling

Cut the crackling into bite sized pieces and hide from the family until you are ready to eat, or they will steal it every time they visit you in the kitchen offering “to help”.

Roast beetroot

Top and tail them, don’t peel them unless you want beetroot juice all over the baking dish.  Put a little oil in a second baking dish.  Bake for just over an hour.  After about half an hour put in some small potatoes whole (or halve larger ones), shake the dish well to move the beets around and coat the potatoes, then bake for the remaining 45 minutes.  Peel and halve to serve.

Some people sprinkle a little salt over their roasting vegetables, but there will be enough in the pork gravy, so you don’t need to do it this time.

Peas

Put the peas into a microwave safe container, just cover with water.  A trick my late mother in law taught me to keep peas green and make them soft is to add a little bicarbonate of soda (about half a teaspoon) and sugar (again, about half a teaspoon).  Cover and cook in microwave on high for 8 minutes.  While they are cooking, you can start the carrots.  When the peas are done, put them aside (you will be using the microwave again for the apple sauce) and they can be reheated for a minute when you are ready to serve.

Carrots

Peel and chop the carrots into thin slices.  Put into a pot and just cover with lightly salted water.  Boil until just tender.  Then drain the water into a jug, reserving for later.  Then put the carrots back into the pot with two tablespoons of butter, and fry, stirring occassionally for five minutes.  Then add half a tablespoon of brown sugar, a pinch of mustard powder and three shakes of cayenne pepper.  Saute until well combined.  You can turn the heat off, leave them in the pot, and quickly reheat them when ready to serve.

Applesauce

Peel two large apples, core and chop into small cubes.  Put into a microwave safe container with enough water to cover and a teaspoon of brown sugar.  Most apple sauce recipes will tell you to use cinnamon, however when it is to go with pork I sometimes use a small sprig of sage instead.  Cook for 10 minutes, or until soft.  Mash.  Spoon into a small serving dish, this can be served cold, the microwave is now free to reheat the peas!

Gravy

Return to the baking dish that has the liquified pork fat in it.  Drain off all but a tablespoon.  Using gluten free cornflour, add enough to make a thick paste and mix well.  Use the water reserved from the carrots to make a thin gravy.  Put the baking dish on a medium heat and stir well.  Use caution – cornflour may go a bit starchy if you let it boil too much.  Keep stirring and adding the carrot water until the mixture appears to be a good, reasonably thick consistency.  If you run out of carrot water, you can steal some from the peas.

Now comes the really hectic part of the roast – the serving.  At this point you will need to take the beetroot out of the baking dish, and try to peel it.  If it is well cooked it should “rub off” with kitchen paper, but a pair of tongs and a small paring knife might help.  It will be hot, so you might burn your fingers if you aren’t careful.  You can use gloves, as there will be some juice coming out, but it will wash off reasonably easily.  If you can get someone else to carve while you do this, simultaneously reheating peas, carrots and keeping an eye on the gravy, it will be a big help.

Just as you are sitting down to dinner, put your prepared mini puddings in the oven after turning it down to 160 (fan forced), so they cook while you eat, and you get a little break between courses.

Put everything in serving bowls/plates and enjoy!

 

Strawberry and White Chocolate mini puddings – serves 4

Strawberry and White Chocolate mini puddings

Strawberry and White Chocolate mini puddings

1/3 cup strawberry jam

1/4 cup boiling water

50g butter, at room temperature

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

3/4 cup gluten free SR flour, sifted

2 tbsp milk

1/4 cup white chocolate bits

Whipped cream to serve

Grease four ramekins of half cup capacity (I spray with cooking spray).  Combine jam with boiling water and divide amongst the ramekins.  Cream the butter and sugar until light and creamy, adding vanilla essence, then the egg until well combined.  Fold in half the flour, then the milk, then the remaining flour.  Gently stir in the choc bits.  Spoon into ramekins, tent each ramekin with some foil and place in a large baking dish.  Pour boiling water into dish until it comes half way up the sides of the ramekins then bake for 35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.  Rest for five minutes, then invert in a bowl.  You can spoon a little extra jam over the top if you want and then top with whipped cream (not shown in photo).

Raspberry is the traditional flavour combination with white chocolate, but I love strawberry jam so make it this way instead.  You can use raspberry if you prefer, or be wild and experiment with your favourite jam flavour to see how the combinations work for you.

 

Now my last word is – I know this isn’t really ‘lazy’ cooking, but Christmas doesn’t come around often does it? (I tend to do much for the real one!).  This was particularly hectic for a weeknight, and I was really happy to sit down with a nice cup of Earl Grey afterwards!