An infallible method; I’m happy* to hear any suggestions you may have but this one always delivers. If, after following my recipe, it doesn’t look like this, you can sue me*…
*[NOTE: for the hard of thinking; I’m not and no, you can’t actually]
So, how do we manage this miracle? The first important step is to bring the pork up to room temperature; take it out of the fridge at least an hour before you intend cooking. Preheat your oven to 250°C (480°F).
Then, take your sharpest knife (although I have to ask you; why aren’t they all sharp?) or even better, a Stanley knife, and score the skin in lines approx. ¼” apart — seriously, use a ruler if you can’t do this by eye. These straight cuts will deliver the best crackling (whilst also making the carving a breeze) but you can also cut ½” inch apart lines diagonally then cross-hatch with similar ½” lines done 90° in the other direction, to give you diamond shapes. Or ask your butcher 🙂
Next, fill a full kettle and bring it to the boil. Put the pork into your sink making sure it stays skin side up. The as soon as the water comes off the boil, pour the scalding water slowly over the skin, ensuring it gets onto all parts. You should be able to see the skin tighten visibly as the water hits. The pores will open up — an important factor in the crackling coming through properly in the cooking phase.
Take the pork out of the sink and pat it dry; this is the third important point – there needs to be no moisture left on the outside of the meat.
Pour some olive oil into your hands, then massage it all over into the the skin, working it into every part and into the cuts. Then sprinkle liberally with sea salt, again, importantly, making sure it gets into the cuts as well.
Roast the pork in a tin on the middle shelf for 15-20 minutes until the skin starts to blister and then, depending on the cut, cook it as follows:
Belly: 180°C (350°F): 1-1½ hours
Loin: 180°C (350°F): 1 hour
Pork Shoulder: 150°C (300°F): 3 hours
Towards the end of the cook, check the skin by eye. If you’re not happy with the amount of crisp, golden crackling then it’s time to blast the top into submission. Turn on the oven grill until you’re happy the alchemy has happened. But watch it closely; this is the time when it can tip over into burnt and blackened rather than golden and delicious. Don’t take your eyes off the beauty.
Then, remove from the oven. And restrain yourself from immediately tearing into the delights in front of you. Have some patience. Allow it to rest in a warm place (or on a pre-warmed plate) for between 10 and 20 minutes. Then, throw all caution to the winds and dig in. The pork will be moist, the crackling a wonder.
Go on, you know you want to do this for tonight’s meal.