How to Get Crunchy Crackling on Roast Pork


In countries and cultures where pork is the preferred meat, the lush richness of roasted pork is especially valued. Among the Chinese, the English and other pork-obsessed gastronomes, one yardstick of a cook's skill is the ability to consistently provide a layer of crisp, crunchy skin on the roasted pork. The skin, or crackling as it is also called, is considered the crowning glory of a pork roast. For those unaccustomed to its preparation, there are just a few simple steps necessary.

Things You'll Need

  • Cutting board
  • Sharp knife
  • Skin-on pork roast
  • Paper towels
  • Coarse salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • Roasting pan with rack
  • Serving platter
  • Aluminum foil
  • Order a skin-on pork roast from your local butcher or meat shop. Skin-on pork can sometimes be found from your supermarket as well, if they have a good meat department. However, supermarket pork often contains extra water, which makes it more difficult to get a good, crisp skin.

  • Place the roast on a clean cutting board. Score the skin into diamond shapes by cutting through the skin, and lightly into the fat layer. Be careful not to cut through to the pork below. This allows the skin to self-baste, as melting fat will well up through the cuts when cooking.

  • Pat the roast completely dry with paper towels and rub the skin well with non-iodized kosher salt or sea salt. Leave the roast in the refrigerator for at least two hours, or as long as overnight, to help the skin dry as much as possible.

  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Rub or brush the skin of the roast with a small amount of vegetable oil. Position the roast in your roast pan with the skin side facing up, and place it in the oven.

  • Roast at high heat for 25 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 F, and continue cooking the roast until it is done to your liking. Remove from the oven.

  • Carefully remove the crisp skin and some of its supporting layer of fat, and return them to the roasting pan. Put the pan back in the oven, and turn it off. Place the rest of the roast on a serving tray and cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Allow it to rest for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the roast.

  • Bring the crackling back to the roast, once the resting time is complete. Carve and serve with your favorite side dishes and sauce. Serve a small slice of the rich crackling with each portion of pork.

Tips & Warnings

  • Leaving the skin on the roast while it is resting allows the skin to lose some of its crispness, undoing your good work up to that point. Separating the skin and leaving it in the oven preserves the crispness. If your crackling is not as crisp as you would like, you can also use the resting time to finish the crackling at high heat, giving it a second opportunity to crisp.
  • If you have a convection oven, use the convection setting for your roast. The airflow from the fan will help dry and crisp the pork skin.
  • Clean and sanitize any surfaces that have come into contact with the uncooked pork.

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