Monday, May 24, 2010

Smoked Pork Roast with Crackling

Crackling, if we ever move fron the UK, I will miss you the most... 

I had never heard of 'crackling' until I was forty and a newly minted British resident. Crackling is nothing more than the skin of the pig that is wrapped around a pork roast. It works a gastronomic hat trick by keeping the meat moist, uuuuuuuuuunnnnn-believably flavourful and lastly (bestly, too) roasts up into a crunchy, salty, rich nosh. Although crackling is meant to be served along side the carved roast, in my family's case, it is always eaten within seconds of cooling down and being chopped; on more than one occasion, fingers have been narrowly missed by the chef's knife as little hands dark onto the cutting board to snatch a crunchy rectangle of crackling.

Crackling is plentiful here in the UK; many Brits would not consider buying a pork roast without it. In the US though, it is unheard of. Bring your butcher a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies then ask him to wrap the skin around a pork roast (make sure that he scores the skin before wrapping-- this helps it crisp up).

If you do not have a smoker (I've not got anything fancy, just a Webber charcoal grill), roast this up inside in the oven-- it will be equally tasty.

2 kg (4.5 pound) pork roast with crackling
1 large bunch rosemary
Sea salt chards or flakes

1) Get the grill, smoker or oven going. For my grill, I simply pile the charcoal up into a pyramid (as you would to cook burgers), and once the coals are ashen and red hot, push them equally to either side of the grill, place the grate on. Soak the wood chips for 30 minutes. For the oven: Pre-heat to 170C (350F).

2) Snake the rosemary snuggly underneath the pork roast-- sort of wedging it up into the meat. Rub the outside of the roast with sea salt. That's it. Scatter a handful of wet wood chips onto the hot coals then place the roast onto the middle of the grill, so that there are no hot coals directly beneath it. Cover and smoke for about three hours-- make sure to keep adding coals and more wood chips about every 30-45 minutes. In the oven: Forget about it and let it roast away filling your kitchen with the maddening aroma of pork, crackling and rosemary for three hours.

3) When the roast is mahogany in colour, remove to a platter, cut the butcher's twine off the crackling and remove the crackling from the roast. Place it into an oven set at 200C (400F) for 10 minutes to really crisp it up. Slice the meat, discard the rosemary and crack the crackling into bite size pieces.

Serves 8-10

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