Pork is an excellent roasting joint with an unfair reputation for being difficult to cook. Dry roast pork is normally overcooked, and joints with fat that has not turned into crackling are cooked at too low a temperature. Choose a good-quality joint from a butchers or an organic joint for the best flavour. Pork does not need to be basted during cooking as it has enough fat to keep it moist.
Choose a joint of pork with a good covering of fat and rind that is free of hair. Loin, shoulder or joint of pork belly are good choices, and a whole leg roasts well if you have the space. Allow 8oz (225g) per person. The meat should be moist and pink with no blood pooled around it.
Preheat your oven well in advance. It must be at a minimum temperature of 220C (425F) when the meat is put in to turn the fat into crackling.
Score the rind of your joint with a Stanley knife or sharp kitchen knife but do not go deep enough to cut into the meat. For leg and shoulder joints the score marks should be an inch apart and for belly joints about half an inch apart. You can also ask your butcher to score the joint for you when you buy it. Rub plenty of salt into the cuts and season the underside of the joint with salt and pepper.
Place the joint skin side up in a large roasting tray. Roast in the oven on a high shelf for at least half an hour or until the skin has begun to puff up and form into crackling. Turn the heat down to 180C (350F). If you have a meat thermometer the joint is done when the middle of the joint reaches a temperature of 70C (160F). Total cooking time for pork is 25 to 30 minutes per pound (450g), depending on how thick the joint is. Insert a skewer into the thickest part of the joint. If the juices run clear, it is cooked.
Take the joint out of the oven and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving to allow the juices to spread throughout the meat and leave it uniformly moist.
Roast potatoes and vegetables in a separate tray to pork as the steam they generate can stop the crackling from crisping up.
Use the juices left over in the roasting tray as a base for gravy.
Tips and warnings
- Roast potatoes and vegetables in a separate tray to pork as the steam they generate can stop the crackling from crisping up.
- Use the juices left over in the roasting tray as a base for gravy.