‘Secret’ to restaurant quality pork crackling

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There’s nothing better than tucking into the salty, crispy crackling after cooking a joint of pork, so it can be disappointing when the texture just isn’t right. Striking a balance between a hard outer skin and a softer core can be hard to judge through the glass of your oven door, though according to one chef, the key to success is all in the preparation. In a recent video on his TikTok profile, Dean Edwards (@deanedwardschef) shared his “secret” recipe for restaurant-quality crackling.

Pork is a notoriously fatty meat and while the white rind can often go to waste, crisping it up until it crackles is a great way to put it to use – and make the most of its flavour.

In a recent video on his profile, TikTok chef Dean Edwards revealed his easy-to-follow recipe for success “every single time” you decided to make crackling.

He said: “Who wants the secret to how restaurants get that perfect crackling every time? Well, I’m going to share it with you.”

The chef noted that the “key” to success starts from the moment you put the meat in the fridge, adding that it needs time to rest before being cooked.

Dean said: “Make sure you let the pork skin sit uncovered in the fridge overnight before coarsening, then add a drizzle of oil.”

The TikTok user proceeded to rub the oil into the tender meat before adding a generous amount of sea salt on top. After spreading the coarse salt over the skin, he preheated the oven on high ahead of cooking.

According to the self-proclaimed “CEO of slow cooker recipes”, 220C (gas mark seven) is the ideal temperature for cooking pork skin on its own, though this may vary if you are working with an entire joint of meat.

While it is tempting to just load up the salted, oily skin onto a baking tray and place it in the oven, Dean revealed an alternative method to ensure perfectly crunchy crackling.

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In the video, he used a baking tray lined with tin foil with a metal rack placed on top.

Dean lined the pork skin strips onto the tray with even spaces between each one before adding two unusual layers to cover the crackling.

On top of the raw pork, he placed a sheet of baking parchment followed by “a nice heavy tray” to keep the paper in place. The TikTok chef explained that this is “what helps set the shape” in neat, rectangular strips.

When it comes to cooking the pork, Dean recommended keeping the tray in the oven for 30 minutes uninterrupted.

Once this is up, remove the tray and baking parchment from the crackling and place them back in the oven for a further 20 minutes to turn golden and crisp.

If you’re cooking a whole joint of pork, your approach to crackling may need to be a little different. According to Amanda Smyth, a cooking blogger at Cooker and Looker, slicing the rind is one of the most important steps for perfect crackling.

She said: “The more opportunity you give the salt and heat to penetrate the pork rind, the better the result. You can do this two ways.”

The first approach is to score the rind with widthways cuts about 1cm apart. According to Amanda, the cuts should be deep, but not deep enough to reach the meat layer.

The alternative option is to scald the rind. The cooking blogger said: “After the rind has been scored (by you or the butcher), pour boiling water directly onto the rind. The heat from the boiling water will curl the rind and open the cracks for better heat penetration. Avoid pouring boiling water on the exposed meat, concentrate on the scored rind.”

Another key tip is to dry the skin before cooking it. Though it may sound counterintuitive after pouring water onto the meat, drying it carefully is essential to secure that perfectly crispy exterior.

Amanda added that keeping your oven door closed is also essential for added crunch. She said: “Don’t be tempted to open the oven door to have a peek or add the veggies. That first scorching is the secret to perfect crackling. After twenty minutes, drop the temperature to 180C and cook your pork for 45 minutes per kilo.

“The pork is cooked then the juices run clear. If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should be 70C. Allow the roast to rest before serving.”

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