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Crispy Roast Pork

Prep 10 minutes | Cook 5 hours | Total 5½ hours

Crispy Roast Pork often appears on the menus of the top restaurants in town, especially slow roasted pork belly. And you can’t go past that crispy crunchy crackling. But it is still seen as something ordered when you are out ‘as a special treat’.

Try this easy Roast Pork – the aroma of the sweet apple juice and the mellow flavour of the roasting fennel will attract people to your kitchen by the droves. This roast pork will result in accolades galore, so accept with grace and never let them know how easy it is.

While it is the most widely eaten meat in the world, not many Australians think to grace their midweek table with pork. People have shied away from cooking pork at home. Is it because they consider it to be fatty and unhealthy, or are they unsure of how to cook it.

First things first, contrary to popular belief, eating pork won’t make you a porker. Did you know that pork tenderloin fillet is actually as lean as a skinless chicken breast? In fact lean pork has fewer calories than lean chicken, and even fewer calories than salmon.

Now I agree that Roast Pork belly or shoulder with that crunchy crackling is not the leanest cut of meat, but when slow roasted, most of the internal fat melts away, leaving a melt-in-the-mouth, tender piece of meat. But be warned, crispy roast pork will make a mess of your oven. Every time I think to clean my oven, I put it off for one more day and cook Crispy Roast Pork.

When leftover cooked pork is cooled, store in an airtight container or zip-lock bag and refrigerate within an hour of cooking. You can keep cooked pork safely in the fridge for 3–5 days, or in the freezer for three months.

Roast Pork

  • 4 fennel bulbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 1.5–2 kg pork belly or shoulder
  • 500 ml apple cider or white wine
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • apple sauce to serve
  • Serves 8 (4 + more)
Preheat oven to 250°C. Cut fennel bulbs into halves or quarters (depending on the size) and place in the bottom of a baking tray. Sprinkle with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper.

Dry the pork skin with paper towel and score the skin at about 1 cm intervals with a sharp knife. Just cut into the skin and slightly into the fat, but not deep into the meat. Or perhaps ask your butcher to do it. Rub 1 tablespoon or so of salt into the scores of the skin. Place pork on top of fennel, hiding the fennel from the direct heat.

Cook in the oven until the crackling starts to crisp and brown (about 30 minutes). Reduce heat to 140°C, add apple cider and stock so it covers the meat but not the crackling, and continue cooking in the oven for 4 hours.

Increase the temperature to 220°C for another 20–30 minutes to ensure the crackling is crisp. Remove from the oven and rest for 15 minutes. Do not cover, as this will soften the crackling. To make the crackling extra crispy, remove it from the meat and put it back in the oven while the pork is resting.

Remove fennel from the baking tray and keep warm. Remove the fat from the juices by adding a couple of mugs of ice to the tray. When the fat accumulates around the ice and solidifies, remove with a slotted spoon and discard. Then heat juices to serve over pork.

Serve pork with the caramelised roast fennel, roast pumpkin, green beans, juices and apple sauce.

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