Perfect crackling is a lot easier than a lot of people think it is, check out the Roast Pork recipe here, which covers how to do it when there’s a big lump of meat involved, however, these cracklin’ strips are so easy they are virtually fool proof! I usually make these with the skin left over on sausage making days or trimmed off a pulled pork. Tried and tested they come out perfect every time.
The key to success (with strips or a joint) is understanding the golden rule – moisture in the skin is the enemy of crunchy crackling. The single easiest way to dry it out is to just leave it exposed in the fridge for 24 hours before you want to use it. Again, seeing as we’re cooking snack based crackling sticks here, this should not be an issue!
Actually, 24 hrs is probably excessive unless we’re dealing with one of those vac packed joints from the supermarket that’s wetter that the proverbial otter’s pocket when you open it up. A fresh joint from the butchers should only need a couple of hours.
The reason these respond to being crackled more than a joint is in the science – it is the combination of salt and bubbling fat that will puff up the skin, and with no meat protecting the fat it will heat up and do its thing much quicker and better.
These are perfect with homemade apple sauce and English mustard!
Pro tip 1: I wondered how the Draft House in Hammersmith managed to get their cracklings so straight – turns out that they place a weight, such as another baking tray (separated by some baking paper), on the skin for the first 10 minutes.
- Cut the skin from the joint with an extremely sharp knife, leave some fat on the skin, but not too much
- Preheat the oven to 180 C, works particularly well on a Neff oven set to circo-roast (mixture of oven and top heat). Because these are cooking on their own, you don’t need the initial super heated oven blast, they’ll do just fine at 180.
- Cut the skin into strips and paint on a thin layer of oil with a pastry brush, then salt them and lay out on a baking tray, if you want nice straight strips, cover with baking paper and rest another tray on top
- Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until crunchy. If using the tray-weight you can remove it and the paper after 10-15 mins and expose the strips to the heat
- 5-10 mins before the end paint a little maple syrup onto the underside of each strip and sprinkle on some finely ground black pepper onto the tops – the sweetness of the syrup is great with the salty/peppery seasoning.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes (this also hardens them up a bit)
Watch Out...Still working on ‘the sweet spot’ in terms of the cook. If the temperature is too high, or you leave them in too long they tend to go puffy and a bit… dusty? I prefer them with a hint of chew and so I’m yet to confirm which element to adjust – temp or duration.