Dizzy Spit Roasts

Sunshine Coast & Noosa, QLD

Perfect Pork Crackling – Rotisserie pork expert tips

Step by step guide – The exact method we use in all our spit roast catering packages.

Catering Sunshine Coast

Introduction

If we were to say ‘pork crackling’ to you, we bet you’d be transported to a special memory. The comforting warmth of a family Sunday roast or the festive cheer of a food truck selling roast pork and crackling rolls at a market. Or enticing aromas drifting across the lawn at a get-together as the rotisserie spins away in the background, crisping that golden crackling to perfection.

The allure of perfect pork crackling lies in its irresistible combination of textures and flavours. From that satisfying crunch to the rich taste, a side of crispy crackling lifts any pork dish to new heights. Through a combination of sound, texture and flavour, crackling is a treat for all the senses.

Having said that, I’m sure you’ve all had less-than-stellar experiences with crackling that somehow hasn’t hit the mark. There is more to this than just buying a piece of meat, seasoning it and leaving the heat to do its thing.

Meat selection is first up, and we’ll walk you through which cuts work better. After this, we will investigate how to prepare your meat through scoring and seasoning, followed by the all-important drying phase. When you’re ready for action, we’ll discuss the rotisserie’s cooking technique and heat application. Finally, we’ll close off with some tips and tricks to ensure you’re fully equipped.

Now that we’ve set the scene, let’s explore the techniques that will produce show-stopping spit-roasted pork with crackling.

Meat Selection: Choosing the Right Cut

It stands to reason that the first step in our quest for the perfect rotisserie pork crackling is selecting the right cut of meat. If you’ve been in the game as long as we have, you’ll know that not all pork is created equal when it comes to crackling.

The best cuts for pork crackling are those with a good layer of fat under the skin. Look for cuts like rolled pork belly, pork shoulder, boneless leg, or a good-quality pork loin with the skin on. These cuts provide the ideal balance of meat, fat, and rind, which is essential for achieving that perfect crackle.

When selecting the best meat for your spit roast pork, look for meat that is fresh with a firm, white fat layer. The rind should be thick and free from blemishes. We recommend buying pork from a local butcher who can provide high-quality, well-raised meat. You’ll benefit from their expert advice, and a more personalised service – and they quite often have some cheeky tricks of the trade up their sleeves.

You might want to consider the farming method used when you’re choosing your rotisserie pork. Each type of pork farming method has its advantages and disadvantages. They can influence both the quality of the meat and the ethical and environmental impact of the production process. Without going too far into the nitty gritty of each method, we’ve written a brief synopsis if pork farming is not your specialist subject.

Pork Landscape: Balancing Ethics, Quality, and Cost

  • Organic Pork is best for those concerned about chemical use and animal welfare, but it is considerably more expensive and less widely available.
  • Free-range pork: Significant welfare benefits and potentially better meat quality, but it can also be more costly and challenging to manage.
  • Sow Stall-Free Pork: This helps to improve welfare for pregnant sows and meets the growing consumer demand for ethical products. It may still have other welfare and management issues to consider.

Choosing the right type of pork depends on your consumer priorities, such as animal welfare, environmental impact, nutritional quality, or cost.

Meat Preparation: The Foundation of Great Roast Pork Crackling

So now you have your perfect cut of pork, the next step is preparation. This is the bit that people often have concerns about. We’re here to take the mystery out of it for you. It involves a few key tasks: scoring the rind, salting, and ensuring the meat is ready for the spit rotisserie.

Scoring the Rind: This is essential for creating that special crunch that is synonymous with roast pork crackling. Use a sharp knife or scalpel and make a series of shallow cuts across the width of the meat, about 1 cm apart and 5mm deep. Avoid cutting too deeply; you want to just penetrate the skin and the fat layer beneath it. This way, the fat layer has an escape route as it is rendered down. If you are not confident in this stage of the process, many butchers will do it for you.

Salting the Rind: Salt really is your best friend when it comes to pork crackling. You need to generously rub salt into the scored rind. This will help to draw out any moisture from the skin and is essential for achieving that sought-after crispy texture. You could mix some spices into your salt rub for an extra flavour boost.

These two steps work together, so enjoy the process and show your pork some love.

Drying Out the Rind: Be Patient!

We cannot stress this enough—dry out your rind! This is a critical step, and many people overlook it. Moisture is the enemy of crispiness, so taking the time to dry the rind properly can make a significant difference. Salt can only do so much of the heavy lifting.

Preparing for Optimal Dryness:

Leaving your pork uncovered for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator is a good trick. The cold, dry environment helps draw out the moisture and can make it easier to achieve that crisp finish you’re after. Keep it in an area of the fridge with good air circulation and away from other foods, especially those with strong odours. Rest the pork on a wire rack, which will allow more air to circulate, aiding the drying process. Don’t forget to keep it uncovered, though. The optimum fridge temp is between 1-4̊c.

Pat the rind thoroughly with paper towels. You could even use a fan or a hairdryer set to cool and blow cold air over it to encourage the moisture to evaporate.

Ensuring Complete Dryness:

Moisture is really the enemy of crispy crackling. It inhibits the fat-rendering process and delays the chemical reaction required to achieve that golden, crispy, bubbly finish we all hope for.

If water is present, the surface will steam rather than sear, softening it instead of allowing it to become crispy. Have you ever had crackling that performed in some places but stayed flat and chewy in others? That was down to moisture.

So, how do you know if you’ve done a good job eliminating moisture? There are several visual and tactile indicators.  There shouldn’t be any water beading on the surface, and it should have a dull, matte look with a consistent colour. If there are any darker patches, this is an indicator of moisture. The cuts should appear slightly separated and dry. The meat should be dry to the touch, firm and resilient rather than soft and pliable and should not feel slippery. It should have an almost leathery feel.

Applying Extreme Heat: The Key to Crispiness

Now that your pork is prepared and the rind is dry, it’s time to apply heat. The method and temperature you use are crucial for achieving perfect crackling. Our favourite method is using charcoal for cooking pork on a spit, as it imparts a wonderful smoky flavour to the meat.

Initial Blast of High Heat

First, secure the pork on the rotisserie spit, ensuring it is balanced and tightly fastened. Insert the pole into the rotisserie and turn on the motor to begin the rotation and ensure even cooking.

Close Proximity: Position the rotisserie near the glowing coals, subjecting the skin to an intense burst of direct heat. This initial sear is vital to kickstart the crackling process.

Vigilant Monitoring: Keep a watchful eye on the skin to prevent it from burning. This stage typically requires 15-20 minutes of attentive supervision.

Maintaining Steady Heat

Lowering the heat allows the pork to cook evenly without burning the skin, ensuring the meat remains juicy and tender.

Raise the Spit: Following the initial high-heat sear, lift the rotisserie spit to distance the pork from the fierce direct heat. Position it higher to ensure the meat cooks slowly and evenly, allowing the skin to crisp perfectly without burning.

Continue rotating on the spit to ensure even cooking throughout the meat. A meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the pork is always a good idea. Insert it into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone. The target temperature is 60-70°C.

Final High Heat Blast (Optional)

A final blast of high heat ensures the crackling becomes as crispy as possible without burning the meat. For the last 5-10 minutes, add more lit charcoal and lower the meat closer to the action. Keep an eye on it now; you don’t want to burn all your hard work.

Conclusion: Savouring the Crunch

Creating the perfect pork crackling is an art form; we won’t hear otherwise. It requires attention to detail and a bit of patience, but the results are well worth the effort.

By selecting the right cut of meat, preparing it meticulously, drying out the rind, and applying the right amount of heat, you can achieve delicious, crispy crackling.

Once your pork is perfectly cooked, let it rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring a tender and roast. Serve your pork with classic accompaniments like apple sauce, roasted vegetables, or a tangy coleslaw to complement the rich flavours of the meat and crackling.

If you follow these steps, we’re sure you’ll serve up crowd-pleasing rotisserie pork with perfect crackling every time.

Tricks of the Trade

Balancing the meat on the pole is a vital part of the process. Ensuring the meat is securely fastened and properly balanced allows for smooth rotation and consistent heat distribution.

Rest that meat. It is a muscle that needs to relax after being shaken by the shock of the heat. This allows the juices to be released.

Make sure you’ve got a super sharp knife. Pork rind is tough, and it is essential that you penetrate it; otherwise, it will not develop the ridges and crevices essential to good crackling.

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