Yesterday I shared the wonderful lunch I had with Lizzie Moult. When I got home my father-in-law was quick to tell me that he really liked pork roast with crackling. He did NOT say, “You got to eat my favourite dish but I didn’t,” but I swear could hear it in his voice.
“How do you cook a roast pork,” Rob asked, “Is it difficult?”
That was his way of hinting that he’d really like one.
Lizzie had sent him a piece of her Irish brick cake and he liked that and wanted to know if I could make that too. Of course – I loved that cake. It’s wonderful to cook for someone who really appreciates the effort you put in to getting things to taste really good.
Or maybe he just says that because he knows I’m a soft touch?
There are a few tricks to getting good crackling on a pork roast. First, choose a cut of meat that has a good layer of fat and rind so I chose a pork rack. Second, if the butcher hasn’t scored the rind, you need to do that with a very sharp knife. Third, and what I think is the most important is for the rind to be very dry before roasting.
I opened the package and placed it on a plate in the refrigerator for 5 hours before placing it in the oven. My friend Iris dries her roast with a hair dryer and she swears by it. Maybe I’m lazy but I haven’t walked upstairs to get the hair dryer yet.
When I was ready to cook, I preheated the oven to 220C/425F and sliced two onions and put them in the bottom of the baking pan, then placed the roast on top of those. The onions cooked in the pork fat are so good. Then I rubbed good sea salt into all the cracks where the pork had been scored and a bit extra on top.
I cut up potatoes, carrot and butternut pumpkin/squash, oiled and seasoned them and placed those around the roast and put the pan in the oven for 20 minutes and then turned the oven down to 180C/350F. Timing is all about the size of the roast and everyone in the know says it’s 45 minutes per kilogram abd 30 minutes per pound. The Pork Board now says the internal temperature of the finished roast should be 63C/145F. Nobody wants underdone nor overdone tough pork but we do want crackling.
When the internal temperature got to about 58C I turned the oven up to 225C and watched it crackle through the window. It can go from nicely crackled to burnt in a very short amount of time, so watch it.
By the time the crackling was done, the internal temperature for my roast was about 65C. I rested the roast about 10 minutes because nobody could wait any longer. The aroma in the kitchen and the whole house to be honest, had us all filled with anticipation. I served it with the roast vegetables and homemade applesauce.
The veggies were nicely crisped and everyone was happy. If you thought Lizzie and I sounded like crickets, John and his dad sounded like a plague of them.
Tomorrow I’ll share my version of the Irish Brick Cake.