As a child growing up in England a Sunday roast was one of my favourite rituals. Typically my aunt would host – much to my relief as mum was a very average cook (sorry mum). We’d sit down at around 2pm and usually the feast was so good that I’d eat until a full stomach forced me to retire to the sofa and loosen my waistband. Today, even after years in Australia, I still have an enduring love of a good old roast. So much so that I’ll embrace a cold and wet Sunday as an excuse to turn on the oven at breakfast time and slow cook a piece of meat that’s big enough to serve a small army.
Anyway with years of roasting under my belt I’ve got a few recipes and tricks up my sleeve. Here I’m sharing my slow cooked pork shoulder with crispy crackling. It’s so moorish that when you’re stuffed on the sofa after this feast you’ll already be thinking about cooking it again.
- 1.5kg to 2kg pork shoulder bone in (a generous serve for 4 people)
- 1-2 tsp each of fennel seeds and sea salt crushed and mixed
- Olive oil
Optional ingredients if you’re keen to have delicious gravy:
- 2 carrots
- 1 medium brown onion
- 2 sticks of celery
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup chicken stock
1. The day before put the pork, fat side up, on a large plate. Dry the skin with a paper towel and if it’s not already scored then score with a sharp knife (be careful not to cut through the fat to the meat). Allow to dry out in the fridge for 24 hours.
2. Remove the pork from the fridge around an hour before cooking and pre-heat your oven to the highest heat possible (hopefully that’s around 280C). Note that often conventional oven settings allow for a higher temperature than fan settings.
3. Roughly chop all of the vegetables and place them in the bottom of a large roasting tin (optional).
4. Boil a kettle of water and carefully pour the boiling water over the pork skin/fat. Then add the pork t the roasting tin on top of the vegetables.
5. Quickly rub your sea salt and fennel mixture into the skin, with the aim of having a thorough and even covering. Finally drizzle over a tablespoon of olive oil and massage lightly with your fingers.
6. Then pop the roasting tin on the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes. During this time you’ll see lots of bubbles and the crispy crackling start to appear.
7. Keep a close eye on the meat from 15 minutes to avoid the crackling burning. As soon as the crackling is even and looks good enough to eat (this usually takes 20-30 minutes) turn the oven right down as follows:
- Option 1 – 130C (265F) if you have time to cook the pork for 5-6 hours.
- Option 2 – 160C (320F) if you’re keen for the pork to be ready within 3-4 hours.
8. For the last hour of the cooking time add the wine and chicken stock to the tray (if you’re making gravy). Don’t pour them over the top of the meat or you’ll risk your crackling turning soggy.
9. When the cooking time has elapsed and the pork is falling from the bone remove everything from the oven and place the pork on a pre-heated plate to rest for 20 minutes or so.
10. If you’re making gravy then pour the liquid and vegetables from the roasting tin into a saucepan. Discard or blend the vegetables and add a spoon of flour. Stir on a low heat for a couple of minutes to make gravy.
Carefully cut off the crackling in one piece and then serve it a little at a time alongside the meat. The meat should be so tender that it falls from the bone and can be easily shredded with two forks.
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