Learning how to cook roast pork with crackling for a family dinner or a casual dinner party is a great skill to have.
A roast pork dinner is one of my favorite family meals. It is easy to prepare, delicious to eat and everybody loves it!
We serve this at least once a month in our house, getting the whole family around the table to dig into roast pork, roast potatoes, roasted vegetables, cauliflower cheese, apple sauce and topped off with gravy. Delicious!
What is the best joint for roast pork?
The most popular cuts of pork for roasting are the leg, shoulder and loin. These are often boned and rolled ready for roasting. You can usually buy all of these cuts in the supermarket, or of course ask your local butcher.
How to Prepare a Pork Roast
Preparing a pork joint for roasting is super simple. You don't even really need to season a pork roast. I just lay the join down on a bed of garlic and herbs.
Rosemary is the classic herb for pork, and I often toss in a couple of sprigs of thyme too. Then scatter on some sliced garlic and lay the pork joint on top of it. That's it!
I don't use a wire rack in my roasting tin, as I want all the juices to be absorbed back into the meat for maximum flavor and juicy meat.
The most important preparation when cooking pork roast is the crackling. Read on for all our tips!
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How to make Pork Crackling
Getting the perfect pork crackling on your pork roast is like the icing on a cake. Sure you can have roast pork without crackling, but why would you want to?
Crispy pork crackling is truly one of life's culinary pleasures and luckily making pork crackling is not difficult at all. But you do need to know a few important tips to make the best pork crackling.
Firstly - you need to make sure that you have a good layer of fat under the skin of your pork.
Secondly you need to make sure the skin is dried out. To do this, a few hours before you cook it, take it out of its packaging, dry it off with a paper towel, and put it on a plate, uncovered back in the fridge for a couple of hours or more.
Next, you need to make sure you score the skin really well. This means taking a sharp knife and cutting slices into the skin, but be careful not to go all the way through. The better the skin is scored, the better the crackling will be.
Finally, right before you put the joint in the oven, you need to sprinkle it with a lot of salt. And by a lot, I mean at least 1 tablespoon of salt. More if you are ok with it being salty.
This can be table salt or coarse salt. I have used both over the years and have they have both resulted in epic pork crackling.
A lot of pork crackling recipes will tell you to rub oil into the skin before you sprinkle over the salt. I disagree. I have never put any oil anywhere near my pork crackling and it always turns out perfect.
Now to get the crackling to crackle, you first need to give it a blast of heat in the oven. So start your oven off super hot - 475 F or 245 C - and cook the pork at this high temperature for the first 20 minutes. After this you can turn it down to continue cooking the rest of the pork.
The final rule for pork crackling is, you have to serve it with apple sauce! See below for more details.
Cooking a Pork Roast in the Oven
The best thing about cooking roast pork is that it is pretty much set and forget. Once you have given it that first blast of heat at a high temperature, you can turn the heat down to 375 F / 190 C and just leave it alone.
Once it is cooked, leave it to rest for around 10-15 minutes to allow the meat to relax. Do not cover it with foil during this rest period, or all that hard work you put into that amazing crackling will be ruined!
How Long to Cook Roast Pork
Your pork roast cooking time will obviously depend on the size of your joint of pork. The rule I follow is this:
After the initial 20 minutes at a high heat, continue roasting the pork for 35 minutes to the pound (450g).
So if you have a 3 pound leg of pork, you will give it the initial 20 minutes at 475 F / 245 C, and then lower the heat to 375 F /190 C and continue to cook for a further 1 hour and 45 minutes.
What to serve with a pork roast dinner
Firstly, you have to serve apple sauce with your roast pork! Honestly, crackling and apple sauce is a salty-sweet match made in Heaven.
You can buy a jar of apple sauce, but it's way better to make it yourself. Just take a couple of apples, peel, core and slice them.
Put the apple slices into a saucepan and cook over a low heat with the lid on for around 15 minutes. Make sure you stir it often. Once the apple slices are really soft you can blend them into a puree.
Other ideas for roast pork accompaniments include:
- Roast potatoes (of course)
- Roast carrots or other root vegetables
- A green vegetable
- Cauliflower cheese
- Yorkshire puddings
Are you hungry yet?!
How to store leftover Pork
Leftover pork can be wrapped in foil, plastic wrap or in an airtight container and will last in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Can you Freeze Roast Pork?
Yes you can! Wrap it in foil then place in a freezer bag or airtight container. It will keep for up to 2 months.
What to do with leftover roast pork
Leftover roast pork is very versatile to use. Here are some great ideas:
- Make a Roast Pork and Apple Sauce Sandwich
- Chop it up and use it in Fried Rice
- Make Cuban Sandwiches
- Slice it up for using in an Asian Noodle Soup
- Make Pork Rice Paper Rolls
- Chop it up fine for using in Pork and Vegetable Spring Rolls
- Slice it up for Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches
- Make Leftover Pork Tacos or Quesadillas
- Use it on Pizza
- Make a Pork Curry
Looking for more quick and easy family meals? You may like these recipes:
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Roast Pork with Crackling
- 3 lb / 1.5kg leg shoulder or loin of pork
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 2 springs thyme
- 1 tablespoon salt
- At least two hours before cooking the pork, remove it from its packaging, dry thoroughly with a paper towel and return it to the fridge, uncovered to dry out.
- Pre-heat the oven to 475F / 245C.
- Take a very sharp knife and score the skin of the pork. You want it to cut the skin but not go all the way through. The better your skin is scored, the better the crackling will be.
- Lay the rosemary and thyme sprigs onto the bottom of a large roasting tin.
- Peel and slice the garlic and lay it on top of the herbs.
- Now place the pork on top of the herbs.
- Right before you put it in the oven, sprinkle the skin of the pork with at least 1 tablespoon of salt.
- Place the roasting tin into the hot oven and cook for 20 minutes at this temperature.
- Then turn the temperature down to 375F / 190C and leave the pork to cook undisturbed for a further 35 minutes per pound (450g) of meat. So for a 3lb / 1.5kg leg of pork, this will be for a further 1 hour and 45 minutes.