There’s nothing better than digging into a delicious serving of pork crackling, but perfecting this dish can be a little tricky to master. So if you’re wanting to impress your guests at your next dinner party, look no further as we have a failsafe method of ensuring you get a deliciously crisp crackle every single time.
Crackling is basically the skin of the pork made crispy through a combination of dryness, salt and heat. While that may sound simple, perfecting pork crackling is no easy feat, so we chatted with Melbourne-based Italian chef Matteo Tine, owner of Mr Ottorino restaurant, to find out how to get it right.
Care and time before cooking is all it takes to perfect crackling, Matteo reckons.
You can’t crisp something up when it’s damp, the chef says, explaining that “if the skin on the pork belly is wet and almost too fresh, then the pork belly will not get great crackling”.
To get the right effect with fresh pork belly, the skin simply needs to be dried out.
So how can you do this? First, make sure that the skin has been properly scored. If preparing the meat yourself, Matteo says to score the skin with incisions using a sharp knife, then pour boiling water over the skin – this helps to crisp up the skin right from the beginning.
“Rub it with a generous amount of salt and squeeze lemon over it,” he advises doing next. Salt is great for two things – it helps to draw out moisture and seasons the fat so the meat will taste great.
Matteo says to leave the meat to air-dry, uncovered, in the fridge for up to 24 hours. When it comes to cooking, roast the pork belly skin-side up, and if you’re cooking to impress, add some veggies of your choice in the tray for extra flavour. Matteo recommends using onion, carrot, celery and garlic “along with some white wine and a little water”.
If you leave the pork on high for too long, you could risk burning your crackling, though. Instead, Matteo advises roasting the pork belly on low at 160 degrees celsius for roughly 30 minutes.
Serve with a side of old-fashioned mash and dig in!