How to make perfect crackling

To the true connoisseur, there’s nothing that quite matches the snapping crunch of perfect crackling. Part of it is the textural contrast of crisp skin over a layer of soft, almost creamy fat and juicy meat, while the other part is simple satisfaction in achieving the culinary perfection that is crackling. Keen to get your crackling on? Here are our top tips.

seasoning-pork-belly

1. Drying

Crackling is essentially the skin of the pork made crispy through a combination of dryness, salt and heat. Here’s the thing. You can’t crisp something up when it’s damp, so make sure that you pat any extra liquid off your belly (your pork belly that is, not your own) to give yourself a fair head start.

  • Remove it from the plastic packaging the night before
  • Pat it dry
  • Salt it and store it in the fridge overnight
  • Then pat it dry again before cooking

Pork-belly

2. Salting

Salt does two things – it helps to draw out moisture and seasons the fat and meat so that they taste great and aren’t bland. Once you’ve patted your belly dry, rub salt all over it as well as into the scored skin and the layer of fat beneath. If you do this the night before and let it sit, you can give it a pat down again when you are ready to cook it and give it another light seasoning with salt  just take it easy the second time, over salting is as bad as under salting.

3. Heat

In this recipe for sticky and delicious Asian pork belly, we ask you to preheat the oven to a scorching 230ºC, and roast the belly for 20 minutes at that temperature. This high heat treatment helps to crisp up the skin right from the beginning, making it pull back from the fat a little bit. Then, lowering the heat for the rest of the cooking time helps to gently render the fat out and cooks the meat to melting tenderness. If you leave it on high for too long, your crackling will burn and your meat will dry out – so watch that oven temp.

Pork-belly-feature

And that’s pretty much it. The perfect crackling in three simple steps. How do you get perfect crackling? Any foolproof tricks like using a hairdryer to dry out the skin before cooking? We’d love to know your secrets.