It’s your dream come true – ultra tender Pork Roast with crazy crispy pork crackling! This roast recipe uses a simple but highly effective technique for perfect crackling. Without scoring!
The perfect Pork Roast
This perfect pork roast has:
- slow cooked tender, juicy, flavour infused flesh;
- super crispy, bubbly pork crackling all over – no rubbery patches at all; and
- comes with a flavourful homemade gravy made with the pan drippings.
It’s made without fussing with blow dryers, boiling hot water, or leaving the pork to air dry in the fridge overnight.
It’s simple to make without any special equipment, and works Every. Single. Time. (But don’t believe me. Read the reviews!)
My secret tips for perfect pork crackling
Forget all the fussing other recipes recommend for perfect pork crackling! Just follow these easy steps:
- Use unrolled boneless pork shoulder (skin-on of course, for the crackling!)
- Ensure skin is dry
- No need to score the skin
- Roast uncovered for the whole time (to keep the skin dry)
- Roast on a low first to slow cook the flesh until tender, then high to finish the crackling
- Keep the skin surface level by using scrunched up balls of foil. Because level surface = even heat distribution = better crackling!
How to make Pork Shoulder Roast
These steps are depicted in the step photos below:
- Season the pork with salt, pepper and optional fennel with a drizzle of oil
- Place onion and garlic in pan
- Add wine into pan (see recipe for subs)
- Roast uncovered in a low oven 160C/320F for 2.5 hours
- Remove from oven
- Level surface using foil balls
- Roast at 240C/450F for 30 minutes until crackling is puffy and crisp
- Make gravy while pork is resting
If you’re a food nerd like me, or want to read the logic behind this recipe to be 100% confident it will work, keep reading.
Otherwise, skip straight to the recipe!
Why this Pork Roast recipe works
All too often, you see pork roasts and rolled pork loins with a bit of bubbly crackling on the top, some crispy but flat, really hard crackling on the sides and disappointing patches of rubbery skin.
I like my Pork Roast with tender juicy flesh and perfect bubbly, crispy pork crackling all over. No rubbery patches at all!
The key factors
These are the key factors that drive how I cook my Pork Roast:
- The observation that crackling is always better at the top of rolled porks, and not so great on the sides.
- How rubbery bits tend to be in the valleys and creases on the skin or the lower edges. ie:
Flatter skin = more even heat distribution across the skin = better crackling
- The greatest enemy of crispy pork crackling is moisture; and
- The pork flesh needs to be slow cooked to make it tender, juicy and infused with flavour.
The Perfect Pork Shoulder Roast
If you’ve made it this far, get ready for an onslaught of some pretty detailed information! Here’s the background to why I make my pork roast the way I do. 🙂
1. Unrolled boneless pork shoulder is the best cut of pork because of the shape, and here’s why:
- The pork (and therefore skin) is relatively flat without the bone = better crackling;
- Meat is always juicier when cooked with the bone in. BUT we’re using pork shoulder here which is beautifully marbled with fat so you don’t lose juiciness for the sake of crackling;
- The flesh side can be rubbed with seasonings then cooked on a bed of onion, garlic and white wine to infuse with flavour; and
- Pork shoulder is an ideal cut for slow cooking which not only means tender flesh, the skin dries out even more during the low temperature roasting phase before cranking up the oven at the end to make the crackling bubbly and crispy
It’s best to get a fresh cut boneless pork shoulder if you can because the skin is smooth and flat. Whereas if you unroll a rolled pork shoulder, there will be wrinkles. See below for comparison.
This recipe will work fine with rolled pork (ie trussed with string or netted) and Pork Neck, aka Scotch Fillet Roast (Collar Butt for those in the States) but because they are shaped like a log, this usually results in good crackle on the very top but ok-to-mediocre crackle on the sides. Do not use this recipe for Pork Loin or Pork Tenderloin.
2. No need to score the skin. But if it’s already scored, it’s fine – You do not need to score for crispy, bubbly crackling. This entire recipe is based around that very fact! 🙂
Scoring helps because with scored skin, the fat under the skin bubbles up while baking.
But if you score the skin and accidentally cut through to the meat, the juices will bubble up while roasting and will cause patches of rubbery skin.
3. Dry skin = superior crackling This isn’t a ground breaking point here, it’s pretty common knowledge.
But the problem is, pork shoulder from supermarkets usually come vac packed which soaks the skin in juices.
So if your pork was vac packed, the best way to ensure really dry skin is to pat it dry with paper towels then leave it uncovered in the fridge overnight, or at least 3 hours.
The dry skin test: Run your fingers across the surface. Does it glide smoothly? Great, it’s dry. Is it sticky like when you touch your own skin on a hot, humid day? It’s still wet – keep dabbing!
4. Infuse flesh with flavour and keep it moist This pork roast is slow cooked so the fat marbled in the pork roast melts and the tough connective tissues become beautifully tender.
I rub the flesh with salt, pepper and fennel (because pork loves fennel!) then place it on a bed of garlic and onion in the roasting pan which serves 3 purposes:
- elevates the pork slightly which helps with even cooking;
- adds more flavour into the flesh; and
- it creates super tasty pan juices which is used to make a gravy.
I also add a liquid into the pan which keeps the flesh extra moist. My first choice is wine, followed by hard apple cider. For non alcoholic options, apple juice, non alcoholic apple cider, chicken and vegetable broth are all things I’ve used in the past that I’ve liked.
5. Roast uncovered for the whole time – because if you cover it, it creates a steaming situation which pork crackling does not like!!
Because it’s roasted uncovered, the skin isn’t subjected to the moisture from steaming so it gets a kick start for the crisping, drying out any residual moisture. This is another factor that helps guarantee crispy pork crackling!
6. Low then high – Juicy, slow cooked meat requires long cooking at lower temperature, whereas crispy crackling requires hight heat.
So we start this pork on a lower temperature for 2.5 hours to break down the tough meat and make it beautifully juicy. This is less time than other recipes you may see because it’s a boneless pork shoulder.
This is what the pork looks like partway through roasting, before crisping up the crackling:
7. Foil balls to level the skin to guarantee crispy crackling – After the slow roasting time, the pork shoulder will look a bit warped. That’s natural – it’s a sinewy connective-tissue dense cut so that’s what happens when roasted without being tied with string.
And remember: flat skin = even heat distribution = best pork crackling
So at this stage, LEVEL THE SKIN before blasting with high heat. Pull out giant flappy bits of meat to the side and use balls of foil to level out the surface of the skin as much as you can before we blast it with heat to make it puff and bubble.
Here’s an example of how I did my pork – the photo on the left shows how low the front side is, then on the right, it is more levelled out after propping it up with a ball of foil.
8. Crank up the heat – After the pork flesh is broken down so its nice and juicy, now it’s time for the crackling. Crank up that heat, and this is what comes out.
There’s not even a speck of rubbery skin on that pork. Most of it has bubbled up beautifully and the small parts that haven’t are still ridiculously crispy.
And look how tender the flesh is!!!
Best way to reheat pork crackling
If you’re like me and always over-cater, you’ll have leftovers. The best way to store pork crackling is to separate it from the flesh.
The crackling will still be crispy even when cold, straight out out of the fridge. To hear it up, just reheat on a tray in the oven.
This recipe also comes with a gravy which is made with the super tasty pan juices.
And surely it goes without saying… never pour gravy onto crispy crackling! All that effort for epic crackling only to douse it and make it soggy?? Nooooooo!!!
Move the crackling to the side, then douse in gravy!!!
Soooo…what’s on the menu for Sunday supper this weekend?? Just the usual Spag Bol… or a crazy juicy Pork Roast with Crispy Pork Crackling…..? 😜 – Nagi x
BEST OF SUNDAY SUPPER ROASTS
- Garlic Herb Butter Roast Chicken – or try this amazing Slow Cooker Roast Chicken
- Beef Standing Rib Roast (Prime Rib) with Red Wine Sauce
- Classic Roast Lamb Leg with Gravy
- Slow Roasted Roast Lamb Shoulder and Slow Roasted Lamb Leg
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Pork Roast with Crispy Pork Crackling
- 2.5 kg/ 5 lb boneless skin on pork shoulder, unscored (Note 1 & 5)
- 2 1/2 tsp salt , separated
- 1 1/4 tsp black pepper , separated
- 2 tsp fennel seeds (or other herb/spice of choice)
- 1 tbsp+ 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 garlic bulbs , halved horizontally
- 1 onion , quartered (brown, white, red)
- 2 cups (500 ml) dry white wine or alcoholic cider (Note 2)
- 1/4 cup (65g) flour (Note 5)
- 2 cups (500ml) chicken broth , low sodium
- Salt and pepper
- Pat the skin dry with paper towels. If time permits, leave in the fridge uncovered overnight (even 1 hr helps). If not, pat extra well.
- Preheat oven to 220C/430F.
- Sprinkle pork flesh with 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, all the fennel seeds and 1 tbsp olive oil.
- Rub into flesh, right into all the crevices and cracks.
- Flip pork, drizzle skin with 1 tsp oil, then rub all over with fingers.
- Sprinkle all over with 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper.
- Place halved garlic bulbs and onion in roasting pan. Place pork skin side up on top of them.
- Carefully pour wine into the pan, being sure not to wet the skin. Transfer to oven.
- Immediately turn oven down to 160C/320F (standard) or 140C/290F (fan).
- Roast 2 1/2 hours.
- Check at 1.5 hours to see if the pork is warped and the skin surface is significantly not level. If so, adjust to make the skin surface as level as possible using balls of foil and moving large dislodged pork pieces to the side (key tip for crispy crackling, Note 3). Then return to oven for the remaining 1 hour.
- Remove pork from oven. If pan is dried out, add some water.
- Turn oven up to 240C/450F, or as high as it will go.
- Return pork to oven for 30 minutes, rotating every 5 to 10 minutes or until skin is crisp and bubbly.
- Transfer pork to serving platter, tent loosely with foil (don't worry, crackling stays super crisp) and rest for 20 minutes. Then slice using a serrated knife.
- Serve with gravy. Don't pour gravy over crackling - move it to the side! See note for reheating.
- Skim off all but 2 tbsp of fat from the pan, if you can (I usually do not).
- Place strainer over saucepan. Scrape all pan contents into strainer, including onion etc. Press to extra juices from garlic, onion etc. then discard.
- Add flour into saucepan, whisk to combine.
- Turn on heat to medium, then pour broth in while whisking.
- Simmer until thickened to syrup consistency - about 3 minutes - it will thicken more while serving. (Note 4 for colour tip)
- Adjust salt and pepper to taste. pour into serving jug. Serve with pork.
2 - 3kg / 4 - 6lb: cook times per recipe
3.5 - 4.5kg / 7 - 8lb: add 30 - 45 minutes to the slow cook time and add 1 cup extra liquid (helps keep the flesh more moist + ensure pan doesn't dry out)
LIFE OF DOZER
Now that’s true love……