raw pork loin joint

Picking and Preparing the Right Joint

Start by buying one of the roasting cuts, such as pork loin, pork leg, pork shoulder or pork belly.

Look for joints that have a good layer of fat beneath the rind and the flesh, which will give you the best results.

You need to ensure your joint is scored before you cook it. If you don’t fancy doing it yourself, you can buy pre-scored joints, or you can ask your butcher to do it.

If you want to have a go, ensure you have a really sharp knife or, better still, a Stanley knife or even a scalpel. Place the joint on a chopping board, and blot with absorbent kitchen paper to ensure it is dry, as a damp joint is the enemy of crunchy crackling!

rustic belly cut of pork

Then holding the joint firmly with one hand, score deep parallel lines down one side of the skin. Each cut should be about 5mm apart and deep enough to cut through the rind down into the layer of fat, but not right into the meat.

Once you have scored one side, turn the joint around and repeat so you have a ‘cross’ effect. This is the process which allows the fat underneath the skin to become crispy.

Before it goes in the oven, you can either brush with a little oil and season with a generous amount of sea salt or regular salt – it’s entirely up to you.  Ideally, you want to use an oil with a high smoke point (for example, sunflower, rapeseed, vegetable or groundnut oil).

Now, here comes the science part: weigh the joint.

Cooking the Perfect Pork Crackling

To guarantee a crispy crackling follow these steps below:

  1. Preheat oven to 230°C, 210°C fan or Gas Mark 8.
  2. Put the joint in a roasting tin on the top shelf for 20 minutes. This sudden blast of heat is the key to crispy crackling.
  3. Reduce the temperature to 180-190°C, 160-170°C fan or Gas Mark 4-5 and follow the cooking times below to ensure the joint is cooked through.

Medium: 30 minutes per 450g plus 30 minutes (internal temperature using a meat thermometer or probe, 75-80°C)

Well done: 35 minutes per 450g plus 35 minutes (internal temperature using a meat thermometer or probe, 80-85°C)

Remember NOT to baste your joint during cooking.

Remove the joint from the oven, ensure the juices run clear, and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.