I love slow-cooked meat, and have recently fallen in love with a new recipe for a leg of lamb cooked in white wine and rosemary.
Now that winter is approaching, I have been thinking of trying the same thing with pork, using apple cider instead of wine. But the problem was, I didn’t know if I could make a slow-cooked pork roast that also had a great crackling. My slow-cooked roasts rely on large amounts of liquid: and moisture is the enemy of cracking.
I started the roast in the traditional way – rubbing salt into the skin and blasting it in a super hot oven for about half an hour. So far, all was looking good.
I turned the temperature down to medium and added a bottle of apple cider to the roasting pan with some garlic. This was where I thought I might become unstuck – would the crackling soften into an insipid chewy skin with all the moisture? I kept the meat uncovered and the level of liquid fairly low and crossed my fingers that the heat of the oven would stop the skin getting too soggy.
After about 4 hours, I removed the pork, poured out the pan juices and excess cider and added some cooked potatoes into the pan. The pork and potatoes went back in the oven at maximum temperature for 40 minutes and I made gravy with the pan juices.
The crackling had lost some of its crackle after the slow cook, but after the final 40 minutes, it was perfect again. Whew!
I served the roast the way my mum taught me – with potatoes, peas and gravy. A pretty heavy meal though, so I think next time I might serve it with a light apple ‘slaw instead of the potatoes.
The meat was and nice and soft – although could have done with another hour or so in the oven to really fall apart. And the crackling stayed crispy and delicious. The gravy based on apple cider was great.
The next day, I chopped up the leftover meat, added some stock, potatoes and vegetables, and baked it into a pie. A nice way to end the weekend.