The best roast pork & apple sauce
The secret to the best crackling is getting the skin as dry as possible before it goes into the oven, so make use of all Martha Collison's tips and tricks
- CourseMain meal
- Prepare20 mins
- Cook1 hr 20 mins
- Total time1 hr 50 mins
- Plus48 hours drying time
- 1 pack British boneless Pork Loin crackling joint, about 1kg
- 2 tbsp table salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
For the apple sauce
- 350g frozen Cooks’ Ingredients Sliced Bramley Apples, (or fresh Bramleys, peeled and cored)
- 20g butter
- 60g caster sugar
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp Calvados (optional)
About 48 hours before you want to serve the pork, prepare the skin. Pull the stretchy butcher’s string off and set aside. Using a toothpick or sharp skewer, pierce small holes all over the skin of the pork, then use a clean craft knife or penknife (or sharp small kitchen knife) to score it. Cut through the rind and fat, but don’t go as far as the meat. Make incisions roughly 1cm apart across the whole rind. Put the string back on.
Using kitchen paper, dry the crackling thoroughly, then sprinkle with the table salt and rub into the skin. Move to a large, lidded container that gives the joint plenty of room, and leave for 48 hours. The salt will draw any liquid out of the pork skin as the meat rests.
Preheat the oven to 240ºC (or as hot as it will go) and remove the pork from the fridge. Brush off and discard the table salt (don’t worry about any that has fallen into the score marks) and use a paper towel to dry the skin again.
Using your fingers, massage the olive oil over the dry rind and flesh of the pork, then season with the sea salt flakes and black pepper. Place into a roasting tin, ideally with a wire rack inside so the fat can drip away. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes – do this immediately after salting the pork or you risk the skin becoming wet.
To make the apple sauce, put the apples, butter, sugar and cider vinegar into a saucepan and place over a medium heat. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring regularly, until the apples have broken down and the sauce is thick and glossy. Stir through the Calvados (if using), then season to taste. Set aside to serve with the pork, or allow to cool, transfer to a lidded container and chill for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.
Once the pork has cooked for 30 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 200ºC, gas mark 6 and roast for 50 minutes more (or calculate the cooking time using 25 minutes per 500g if your joint is a different size.) Using a temperature probe, check the internal temperature of the thickest part of the meat – it needs to register 75ºC, and the pork should be thoroughly cooked with no pink meat and juices that run clear
Cover the pork loosely in foil, wrapping around the edges, but not covering the crackling. Allow to rest for 20 minutes while you prepare the accompaniments, then snip away the strings, lift off the crackling and slice the meat thinly using a sharp knife. Slice or snap the crackling into pieces, then serve.
Check the crackling
It should be super crisp when tapped with a knife and have tiny bubbles in the skin when ready. If you’re not happy with the crackling, turn on the grill setting of your oven and put the joint back into the oven. Watch it through the oven door the entire time – it can turn from golden to burnt in a moment! When you’re happy with the crunch, remove from the grill and rest as in the method.
Look for a high-welfare joint of pork (all Waitrose roasting joints meet this standard and are British and outdoor bred) with a thick layer of fat and a smooth, dry-looking skin which will make the crunchiest crackling. Leg or loin come ready prepared at Waitrose for a great crackling roast. The pork needs 2 days to dry for fully crisp crackling, so check the use by dates on the pack so you have enough time.
Use a meat thermometer
I can’t recommend a good thermometer enough. It’s hard to tell if meat is cooked thoroughly, especially under a layer of crackling, so this takes the guessing away. I have a Thermapen which I use regularly. Always remember that the joint will benefit from resting time, so allow time for that.
Typical values per serving when made using specific products in recipe