A “Crackling” Success

There is a lot of truth in the fact that through time, if you wanted to better yourself you simply copied the way your chosen celebrity did it. Whether it be the designer handbag they carried, how they hosted a party or how they cooked a certain dish. Today there is a lot of money to be made from being an influencer. If he or she is sporting a little black Chanel dress so would the rest of their tribe. There is akind of ju ju to following your heroes and it applies just as much to cooking as any other field of endeavour. I spend a lot of my time trying to separate fact from fairy tale. But sometimes you have to just give in. Such is the case with pork belly and crackling. If you google "perfect crackling" you will find any amount of advice. But in all my experimentation, I never get better results than through using the method below from celebrated cook and food writer, Jane Baxter. Guaranteed to produce melting pork and perfect crackling. Much better than a designer handbag anyway. Well I think so.

Jane Baxter´s Perfect belly pork 
Serves 8
1.5 -2kg piece of belly Pork
1tbsp Flor de sal
1tbsp fennel seeds
Freshly ground black pepper
1 onion cut into thick slices
200ml cider
Chicken stock

Scoring the skin with deep closely spaced cuts is crucial for good crackling.
A criss-cross diamond cut will give an even better result than straight slashes through the skin.
Start the next stage the day before you intend to roast the pork.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 the salt and rub it in all over the belly.cover with a tea towel and leave in the fridge overnight.This will make it dry out further.Dryness is essential to good crackling.
Take the pork out of the fridge an hour before you intend to cook it so it can come to room temperature.Preheat the oven to 220C / 425F / gas mark 7.Pat the skin dry with kitchen towel and rub all over with the fennel seeds and black pepper.
Arrange the onion slices on a baking tray.Top with the belly pork and roast in a hot oven until the skin starts to crackle,Check the pork every 15 minutes and move the tray around sio that the pork cooks evenly.this part of the cooking is is important to start the crackling process.When you feel confident the skin is blistering,turn the oven down to 140C / 275F / gas mark 1 and cook for a further 2-3 hours until the meat pulls away roasting tray and allow it to rest.Pour off the excess fat and pour in the cider.Scrape the pan to release all those lovely juices.Pour them off into a pan along with the onions and add some chicken stock.Simmer for 30 minutes while the pork rests, for great gravy.
If your pork is cooked but the crackling is not crisp enough,slice the skin away from the meat,then put it back in the oven or under a grill to crisp up while the meat rests.You shouldnt have to do this.

Snap crackling and pop


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