Food & Drink

Tips For The Perfect Roast Pork With Crispy Crackling

By Jacqui Thompson
21st Jun 2013

There is a misconception out there that creating a mouthwatering roast pork, with crackling that will melt any heart, is difficult—'not so!' says our friendly local butcher, Colin Holt of Hudson Meats. Not so!

And who better to instruct us on the art of cooking roast pork, than a two-hat-chef-cum-butcher. Colin, after having worked at some of Sydney's best restaurants (including Claude's and Bistro Moncur, and managing his own restaurant for five years, Bistro Pave), decided to open Hudson Meats with his partner Jeff Winfield.

Driven by a desire to bring restaurant-quality meat to the retail sector, along with a passion for clean and natural produce, Jeff and Colin often work directly with regional farmers when sourcing their meats. Hudson Meats is the only retail butcher to sell Robbin's Island grass-fed Wagyu Beef, which is also served at Tetsuya's and est.

Hudson Meats is committed to quality, and when it comes to pork, this means sourcing fresh, whole, female pigs from free-range farms. They work with farmers including: Jack Hewitt of Gunnedah; husband and wife team Hayden and Beth McMilan of Burrawong Gaian; and producers from the Byron Bay area.

The breed of the pig is very important. The old, natural breeds grow much slower, have more fat in the meat, and more flavour. Colin would like us all to know this is good fat! Full of Omega 3 and Omega 6.5. If animals are grown naturally, the fat is good for us, and Colin is constantly reminding his butchers to leave all the fat on their cuts of meat. The breeds sourced by Hudson Meats are Berkshire, Wessex Saddleback, and Large Blacks. The pigs are always female as the male pigs tend to smell as they age, and the average weight they source is 55kg to 65kg.

Colin's Tips For The Perfect Pork Roast:

Phase One—For Crunchy Crackling:

Firstly, if you have purchased your pork from a supermarket, the meat often comes vacuum packed in plastic. The problem is that condensation gets into the skin of the pork, which prevents your crackling getting crispy. Follow the instructions below to perfect your crackling, whether from the butcher or supermarket.

Pour boiling water over the pork's skin
Place in the fridge uncovered to dry it out
After it has dried out score the skin with a sharp knife and tie it up
Put back into the fridge
When ready to cook, remove from the fridge until at room temperature
Oil and salt all over the pork—a light covering, but generous with the salt

Tip. Colin does not like using herbs or marinades, he believes all the flavour you need is inherent in the meat. Simply use condiments on the side like spicy apple sauce.

Tip. Only start cooking when the meat is at room temperature, otherwise you will end up with a roast that is not cooked evenly throughout.

Phase Two—Cooking Your Roast

Timing for pork is always judged by the girth of the meat not the length. So a rack of pork, whether 6 or 12 pins, will take the same amount of time. These instructions are for a rack or roll of pork.

Meat is at room temperature
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees
Place your pork into the oven at 200 degrees for 15 minutes to get the crackling started
Then reduce the heat to 150-160 degrees for 50 minutes
Turn the oven off and leave for 15 minutes with the door ajar using a wooden spoon

Tip. The residual heat in the oven finishes the cooking, keeps the crackling crisp and allows the meat to settle. Do not use foil! Foil creates condensation, which steams and stews the meat and makes your crackling soggy. Leave it uncovered in the oven.

Tip. For a shoulder of pork, cook for 1.5 hours at 160 degrees after the initial 15 minutes at 200 degrees.

Colin was a judge in this year's delicious. Produce Awards 2013. A rewarding experience for Colin, he explained that while talking with his fellow judges, there was a general consensus that people in the community needed to celebrate food more. That a greater value should be placed on the foods we are consuming, with a focus on quality not quantity.

Hudson Meats
The butcheries are located in Cammeray, Mosman, Surry Hills and Lane Cove. And soon to be opening in Melbourne.

Top image credit:  La Petite Brioche


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