Quintessential to British culture and an essential component of Sunday lunch, pork roast, when cooked properly, is celebration food at its best. The perfect pork roast should be perfectly moist, evenly cooked and surrounded by the crispiest crackling. But getting it right isn’t always straight forward – a good recipe for pork may be enough to get you started, but there are a few extra tricks you can follow to ensure that the recipe results in perfection.
It all begins with choosing the best cut for roasting. There are a few options. Spare ribs are sweeter and more succulent than other cuts, and extra fatty for a moister result. Blade is similar in flavour, and also cheaper, but harder to work with. Loin has great flavour and can be roasted on the bone – ask your butcher for a loin cut nearest the head, which will be sweeter than other cuts. Tenderloin makes an excellent roast but is extra lean so benefits from a layer of fat such as bacon to keep it from drying out. One of the most popular cuts is the leg, a large joint great for stuffing, but also very lean which can make crackling a bit of a challenge.
This leads to one of the most common questions related to roast pork: how do you achieve perfect crackling? To get the crispiest crackling, make sure the pork skin is very dry before you cook it. Keep the joint in the fridge uncovered before you’re ready to cook it, then score the skin before roasting. Don’t cut all the way through to the skin – just halfway down the fat. Scoring the skin in this way allows the fat underneath to bubble up and crisp the skin.
As to the roast itself, there’s more to it than just putting some pork in the oven. Allow the meat to come to room temperature before cooking it. You want to roast at a high heat to begin with, to rapidly heat up the joint and get the crackling of to a good start, then lower the temperate to finish – the exact time and temperature will depend on the weight og the joint.
Another key is to know when the pork is done. To test the pork, poke the centre of the meat with a skewer: there should be no pink in the juices. Clear juices equal perfectly cooked – and perfectly moist – meat. If the pork is done but the crackling could be crispier, you can always remove the crackling and put it back in the oven or under the grill to crisp up.
Finally, always let the meat rest before carving.