An appreciation of a very misunderstood ingredientFor Christmas dinner this year we abandoned the bird and took up the cudgels for the pig.We love our belly pork and it can be difficult to get right. If you google "perfect crackling" you will find no end of advice,but whose advice do you take? One thing that everybody seems to be consistently in agreement with is scoring the skin with deep,closely spaced cuts of the knife.A criss-cross diamond cut will give an even better result than straight slashes through the skin. Synominously, most agree to start the next stage the day before you intend to roast the pork.As with crispy duck skin, place the meat on a rack above a tray or bowl and pour a full kettle of boiling water slowly over the skin.Pour away the collected water,pat the pork dry and then let it dry completely for an hour or so.Sprinkle the skin with a tablespoon of Flor de sal and rub it in all over the belly.Cover with a tea towel and leave it in the fridge overnight.This will make it dry further.Dryness is essential for good crackling.
The crackling experience makes you enjoy it in two stages: first, when the crackling breaks in your mouth with a crunch, like flaky pastry; second, when the perfectly crispy morsels melt on your tongue, imparting flavour.Enjoy crunchy, dry, savoury mouthfuls of pork scratchings (Chicharrones as our Spanish neighbours over the river call them)served up a la Nigel Slater in a bowl of popcorn with a bottle of fizz thats just been popped.
The words “guilty pleasure” come to mind,yum yum pigs bum ( no, belly actually).
A criss-cross diamond cut will give an even better result than straight slashes through the skin