Crispy pork crackle is often difficult to achieve, but it’s easier than you think - once you know this secret.
Justin James, Executive Chef at Vue Group, shares his fail-proof tips to get great pork crackle, every time.
Choosing the cut
The first step is to choose the cut and make sure the skin is on it.
“Keeping the bone in or out is up to you. Bone out makes it easier to carve but the bone in will add more flavour,” Justin says. Try a boneless rolled pork loin, as it offers easier cooking and carving.
“If ear-shattering crackling is what you’re after, start by scoring the skin with the tip of a sharp knife. Score into the skin at 1cm intervals and in a diamond-cross hatch pattern, being careful not to penetrate the fat through to the meat layer,” Justin reveals.
Next up, you need to ensure the rind is as dry as possible.
“If your pork is purchased in a vacuum sealed bag, pat it dry with a paper towel before roasting,” Justin suggests. “If time allows, leave uncovered in the fridge for a few hours or even overnight to dry out even further. Once this is done, rub oil and plenty of salt into the scored skin, really getting it into the slits of the score marks. The fat under the skin reacts with the salt – that’s what makes the skin puff up and crisp up. If you don’t rub the salt in properly, the crackling will have a chewy texture.”
The best way to get crispy crackling is to cook it in a very hot oven.
“Between 220C and 240C for 20 to 30 minutes is the recommendation, then reduce the temperature to a range of 160C to 180C,” Justin says. “Pork meat is at its best when it’s just pink, verging on white. You’re looking at 25 minutes for 500g of pork and always rest meat for 20 minutes before carving.”
And, if you’re a real pork crackle fan, Justin has one top tip: “If you can order just skin, I always do this. I treat the skin just like the pork and roast at the same time. That way there is more than enough crackling for everyone and leftovers for the next day.”