How to Get Those Cracklings on Your Own Roasts Like the Pros
If you have ever been served a portion of pork at a restaurant with a fabulous crunchy skin, you know how wonderfully satisfying cracklings can be. But if you have ever tried to make your own roast covered in perfectly crisp, rendered cracklings and ended up with chewy, flabby skin, you also know they require a bit of attention. Luckily the secret is a simple one, and one that also gives you the best texture to your meat.
The secret: low and slow in the oven.
How to cook pork with perfect cracklings
Cooking your skin-on pork shoulder all day will do two important things. It will fully render the fat under the skin and give it time to crisp properly (those cracklings!). And, it will melt the collagen and connective tissue in the meat, making it stickily succulent and the perfect counterpoint to the shattering skin. The salt helps draw out moisture from the skin, and the spices season the meat and the cracklings. Ready to get cracklin'? Here's how to do it!
All Day Pork Shoulder with Cracklings
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon Espelette or Aleppo pepper
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 4- to 5-pound bone-in pork shoulder with skin (you may have to request this at your butcher since most grocery stores remove the skin)
1. Preheat your oven to 500° with a rack in the lower third.
2. Put the spices and salt in a bowl and mix well. Score the skin on your pork roast in a diamond pattern—go deep enough to pierce the skin but not through the fat to the meat.
3. Rub the pork shoulder all over with olive oil and place in a roasting pan on a rack. Sprinkle the spice rub all over the roast, being sure to massage it into the skin of the pork, getting it into all of the scores. Pour a cup of water in the bottom of the pan to prevent smoking.
4. Put the pan in your preheated oven for 30 minutes, then turn the heat down to 250° and cook for 6-9 hours. The meat should be soft and yielding enough to pull it apart easily with a fork or tongs.
5. Once the pork is out of the oven, let it rest for half an hour before removing it to a large board. Pull off the cracklings and scrape any extra unrendered fat from the underside of the cracklings and remove large pieces of unrendered fat from the surface of the meat.
6. Once the pork has rested, you can either pull the meat apart into large pieces or serve whole with a set of tongs and a large fork for your guests to pull apart themselves. If you are pulling the pork yourself, serve the cracklings on the side; if you are serving whole, simply place the cracklings back on top of the roast once you have de-fatted. Hold in a 200° oven until you want to serve.