During our current meat drought (Veganuary 2020), carnivorous fantasies have started to preoccupy the mind. We started eating this after I saw Lorraine Pascale (fellow JAGS parent) doing it on TV. My version includes a number of modifications. Serve with roast potatoes, red cabbage, apple sauce and another veg of your choice (Carluccio’s carrots or peas – or both!)
1 tbsp fennel seeds
Half a handful black peppercorns
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2kg boned and rolled pork shoulder with skin slashed
For the gravy:
Heaped tbsp flour
A slug of whatever booze you have to hand (even mulled wine works) and / or some apple juice
A dollop of apple sauce or similar to sweeten
Potato cooking water
To ensure a really good crackling, get started the night before. Remove any packaging from the pork, dry the skin and meat and add some more, deep slashes to the skin, taking care not to pierce right through to the meat. A stanley knife is a great tool for this but a super-sharp kitchen knife works too. Leave the meat on a plate, uncovered, in the fridge overnight.
Preheat the oven to 150/130 (fan).
Grind the fennel seeds and the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar, then mix in the salt and bicarbonate of soda. Smear the mixture all over the pork skin, pushing it into the furrows.
Cover the exposed ends of meat with a double ‘cuff’ of kitchen foil, then place the meat onto a baking tray (I use the heavy green Le Creuset dish). Roast in the oven for 4.5 hours. Increase oven temperature to 200/180 (fan) and roast for a further 1-1.5 hours. If your crackling needs more oomph, remove it from the meat and return to the oven at an even higher temperature for 15 minutes. The meat will be perfectly fine, covered with foil, before you carve/shred it.
To make the gravy, put the baking tray on the hob, on a medium heat, add a little fat if necessary and the flour, cook briefly (do not allow to burn), then whisk in the booze, juice if using, potato water and apple sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Check seasoning – it will probably need salt, and you might want to add a little marmite.