I thought that I knew what pork tasted like, that was until I raised and killed my first pig on the farm. The difference in flavour was akin to the gulf between bitter and sweet, and once you have tried pork that has been bred for flavour and lived a life full of grass and sunshine, there is no going back to its grey, dry and factory-produced counterpart. My pig of choice for rearing and eating is the “Berkshire” (pronounced bark-shire); they have a richly coloured flesh and plenty of fat marbled throughout. I can’t stress enough the importance of finding a high-quality producer when it comes to pork. It’s undoubtedly more expensive, so is best treated as an occasional treat instead of a weekly treat.
My preferred cut for roasting pork is the loin with the bone in.
- 2 kg loin pork, bone in, skin on
- 2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted
- 2 tsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp salt flakes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 brown onions, thinly sliced
- 200 ml dry cider
- 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 50 g butter
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time: overnight
Resting time: 30 minutes
The day before you want to cook the pork, use a sharp knife to score the skin at 1 cm intervals, then place the pork onto a tray in the fridge, uncovered. Moisture in the skin is the enemy of great crackling and the low humidity environment of the fridge will draw the moisture out.
Bring the pork out of the fridge an hour or so before you want to cook it, so the meat can come up to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 240˚C.
Grind the fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle along with the rosemary leaves and salt. Massage the mix into the scored skin of the pork, along with the olive oil. Remove the pork from the tray and lay the sliced onion on the bottom, then place the pork back on top.
Roast for 20 minutes or until the skin has turned to crackling, the reduce the oven heat to 160˚C and continue roasting for 1–1½ hours or until the internal temperature reaches between 62˚C and 71˚C, depending on how well done you like your pork.
Remove the pork from the oven, place it on a board and cover it in foil to rest for at least 30 minutes.
While the pork is resting, pour off the excess fat from the liquid in the roasting pan, then transfer the remaining liquid and onion into a saucepan.
Add the cider and mustard to the pan, then use a stick blender to puree the mixture. Heat the sauce over a medium and cook for 20 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Tiffany Louise Page. Creative concept by Belinda So.