A little Crackling

I want to share this recipe mainly as a reminder to myself of how to get great crackling! I finally achieved a deliciously golden crunchy crackle atop juicy, fragrant pork belly.

As a lighter, something different, as recommended by Ottelenghi in his Nopi cookbook I made a walnut and apple salsa to serve alongside the pork with some sauteed potatoes and kale and sprouts.

Serves 4
For the Pork

1kg Pork Belly
Half a Lemon
Coarse Sea Salt
12 Sprigs Thyme
10 Cloves Garlic – crushed, with skin on
10cm Ginger – sliced
4 tsp Lemongrass Paste
400ml Water
500ml White Wine

For the Salsa

1 Apple – diced
50g toasted walnuts – chopped
50g pickled walnuts – chopped
Small handful of chopped tarragon
2tbsp Lime Juice
1tbsp Rice Vinegar
2tbsp Mirin
2tbsp Olive Oil

Pre-heat oven to 200degs – it needs to be very hot to achieve good crackling. Get the pork and pork skin as dry as you can – I left mine out of the fridge at room temperature on a plate for an hour. Rub the lemon half all over the skin ensuring the juice covers the top – and leave for 10 minutes. Once 10 minutes had passed, rub the skin thoroughly with the salt.
Place the herbs and aromats in a roasting tray and pop the pork belly on top – skin side up. Pop in the oven for an hour.
After the hour, the skin should be hard, golden and cracked! Rub any excess salt off and shower again with a little more salt – pop back into the oven for another 30 minutes.
The next step involves carefully pouring the wine and water into the roasting tray ensuring none of it goes onto the top – we dont want to lose the crackle!
Back into the oven again (yes I know its a lot of in and out, opening and closing the oven door!) at a lower temperature of 175degs for 45 minutes.
Now its time to make the salsa – simply mix all the ingredients together. For the pickled walnuts, i warmed a mixture of white wine vinegar and sugar with some peppercorns and left the walnuts in it for 30 minutes. This little salsa is a refreshing, zingy accompanyment to the rich pork.
When the pork is ready you should be able to cut through the crackling and straight into a silky soft layer of fat on top of the moist meat. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for at least 15 minutes. Serve in beautiful slices with the salsa and some greens.
Good Luck – may the crackle be with you!

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