How to get the best crackling on roast pork is the subject of much debate in the kitchen. The secret of success is a good layer of fat beneath the rind. Also, the rind should be scored evenly all over. It helps if you choose a larger joint so there is more time in the oven to develop crisp crackling. Follow our guide to produce perfect roast pork served with a simple Bramley apple sauce and gravy.
Roast Pork with Perfect Crackling and Apple Sauce
- 1.5-2kg joint of pork, either leg, loin or shoulder
- Olive oil, to rub on joint
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the Bramley Apple Sauce:
- 500g Bramley cooking apples
- 25g butter
- 3 tbsp caster sugar
- For the Gravy:
- 2 tsp plain flour
- 450ml meat or vegetable stock
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Take the pork out of the fridge and remove all wrappings. Set on a plate and rub the skin all over with kitchen paper. Leave for half an hour for the skin to dry. If the skin is moist it will not make crackling. Check the skin is evenly scored. If it is not, make further cuts in the flesh with a large, very sharp knife.
- Brush the skin very lightly with oil, rubbing off any excess with kitchen paper. Sprinkle the skin with a thin, even layer of salt and a little pepper. Calculate the cooking time, allowing 35 minutes per 500g, plus an extra 35 minutes. Set the joint in a roasting tin and roast for the calculated cooking time.
- Meanwhile, make the Bramley apple sauce. Cut the apples into quarters using a small, sharp knife. Peel, core and slice the quarters then place in a pan with 3 tbsp cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan with a lid and cook for 6-8 minutes, until the apples are soft and pulpy.
- Remove the apples from the heat and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth, then beat in the butter and sugar. If the sauce is too thin, return it to the heat and cook gently, stirring until it thickens slightly. Transfer to a serving bowl.
- When the pork is cooked, remove from the oven and transfer to a large serving plate. Cover loosely with foil and leave to rest for 15 minutes while you make the gravy. Using a large spoon, remove as much surface fat from the pan juices as you can. Don't worry if you leave some fat, as it will add flavour. Place the roasting tin on the hob and reheat the juices. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour. Return to the hob and cook gently for 2 minutes. Gradually add the stock, stirring all the time until the gravy is slightly thickened. Simmer for 5 minutes, then taste and season if necessary.
- Using a sharp carving knife and a fork to steady the meat, remove the crackling from the joint and place on a board. Cut the cracking into pieces (you can do this with kitchen scissors). Carve the pork into thick slices and serve each portion with some crackling, gravy and a generous spoonful of apple sauce.
Make sure you allow 20-30 minutes to preheat the oven before adding the meat.
Resting the meat before carving gives it time to relax, which will make carving easier and give you moist, tender results.
The apple sauce can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in the fridge in a covered container.
For successful crackling, choose an even-shaped joint with a good layer of fat beneath the rind. Make sure that the rind is dry and rubbed with salt. The joint must be placed in a hot oven. Crackling is formed as the fat gets hot and melts, pushing up through the rind.
If you do not get even crackling by the end of the cooking time, remove the crackling from the joint using a large, sharp knife and place on a baking sheet. Increase the oven temperature to 220°C, gas mark 7 and return the crackling to the oven for a further 15 minutes while the meat is resting.
Make sure that you cook the pork thoroughly, until piping hot and the juices run clear when pierced with a fork. Cool any leftovers to room temperature, place in the fridge within 2 hours and consume within 2 days.
Wash hands, work surfaces and utensils thoroughly after handling raw pork.
For perfect roast potatoes to serve with the pork, peel 1.3kg floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper or King Edwards, then cut into large chunks. Place in a pan with cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Drain thoroughly, then add to the tin around the joint for the last hour of the cooking time, basting them with the pan juices.
Large sharp knife
Small sharp knife
Small saucepan with lid
Small serving bowl
Sharp carving knife and fork
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This recipe was first published in March 2003.