Roast pork is a favorite Sunday roast, second only to the British national favorite, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. Perfect roast pork should have lovely moist, evenly cooked meat surrounded by crisp, sharp crackling. The crackling can be left on or removed at the end of cooking and served separately. Cooking perfect roast pork is easy once you know the right tricks.
The Best Cuts of Pork
Pork loin, belly, and leg are the best cuts for roasting. Choose fresh-looking meat, preferably with a thick layer of fat. Though many people shy away from joints with fat, it adds flavor and helps keep the joint moist while cooking (dried out meat is one of the major faults when cooking pork). You don't have to eat the fat unless you want to, but you will benefit from leaving it on in the oven. Free range and organic pork will always have a thick layer of delicious pork fat.
As for what to avoid, joints like shoulder and collar are better slow cooked.
It's always difficult to know how much pork you need to ensure everyone gets enough to eat. For four to six people, plan on about 2 pounds (1 kilogram) of meat (including fat). Add 1 pound for every two to four additional guests. Don't worry about having too much leftover because pork is delicious in cold sandwiches.
Preparing the Pork
Use these tips to prepare your pork for roasting and ensure you get crisp crackling:
- If the pork needs to be stored before cooking, leave it unwrapped in the fridge on a lower shelf. Pork cooks much better when the skin is thoroughly dried and it's essential if you want crisp crackling, so uncovered is best.
- At the time of cooking, the pork should be at room temperature, not cold straight from the fridge. Remove it an hour or more ahead of time and leave it covered in a cool, not warm, place.
- Use paper towels to dry the pork thoroughly, including the skin. Always throw the paper away once used for sanitation reasons.
- Score the skin with a very sharp paring, craft, or Stanley knife. Do not cut through to the meat; halfway down the fat is sufficient. Even if your butcher has already scored the skin, it helps to add a few extra slashes.
- Use your hand to massage oil and salt into the skin and make sure it runs into the cracks.
Cooking Roast Pork
Always put the pork into a preheated oven and cook to the correct temperature. Pork should be roasted for 25 minutes per 1 pound (450 grams), plus an additional 25 minutes, at 400 F (200 C) or Gas 6. These temperatures are based on a conventional oven, adjust accordingly for your oven.
If possible, use a meat thermometer to ensure the pork is thoroughly cooked. Pork should reach a minimum temperature of 145 F (62 C) according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Resting Roast Pork
An important part of cooking any meat is to let it rest after it's removed from the oven. Once cooked, remove the pork from the roasting tin and place it onto a serving plate. Cover it loosely with foil and place it in the oven with the door slightly ajar. If you need to keep the oven hot (i.e., for cooking potatoes or maybe Yorkshire pudding) then wrap the meat completely in foil and keep it in a warm place.
Roast Pork Recipes
Put your pork roasting skills to use with these recipes: