Roast Pork with Crackling and Balsamic Gravy
I’m on a serious pork buzz at the moment. The pig is the most wonderful creature that just keeps on giving. The conditions that pigs are kept in in this country (aswel as most others) has me somewhat conflicted but I get around this by only eating the free range product. My refusal to eat factory farmed pork means that I can (for the most part) only enjoy pork in my own home as restaurants and café’s rarely have free range pork/bacon on the menu. The upside to this is that I have now gotten quite good at making all sorts of pork dishes but this one, the simplest, is still my favourite.
Crackling…..the enemy of the home cook. Just the mention of the word brings out the hundreds of superstitions regarding the most mysterious of techniques. There seems to be a consensus online that the skin should be removed from the loin and cooked separately but I see no need to do this. The most important thing to guarantee good crackling is to dry the skin well before cooking. Ensure that it’s bone dry, add some olive oil and salt and let the crackling sort itself out, simple!
1.2 kg Pork Loin (in one piece)
2 tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
2 Onions (chopped)
1 large Carrot (chopped)
1 stick of Celery (chopped)
3 cloves of Garlic (chopped)
2 Bay Leaves
1 sprig of Rosemary
1 litre of Pork or Chicken Stock
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
1. Score the skin of the pork with a knife being careful not to cut into the flesh below. Dry it thoroughly with kitchen paper before rubbing the oil into the skin. Sprinkle with plenty of salt and set aside.
2. Put the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay and rosemary onto the bottom of a roasting dish and season lightly. Place the pork on top (skin side up) and put into a pre heated 230 degree oven. As soon as the pork goes in, drop the temperature to 175 degrees and cook for approximately 1 and a quarter hours or until cooked through. (check with a thermometer after an hour, it’s cooked when the middle of the pork is 73 degrees celsius).
3. When the pork is cooked remove it from the tray and set aside to rest. Pour a little water into the tray and scrape up any of the stuck on bits of vegetables/meat. Pour this, along with all of the vegetables into a saucepan and add the stock and balsamic. Bring to a boil and allow to reduce by two thirds until there is about 350ml left.
4. Cut the pork into twelve slices and serve with potatoes and vegetables (or combine the two for colcannon like I did!) and pour over the gravy. Delicious!