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How to Roast Pork: Our Definitive Guide

Blog • July 9th 2018
how to roast pork main image

History of the Roast

Choosing the right Joint for you

Jeff's preferred Roasting Joints

How to make Perfect Crackling

Knowing your temperatures

Knowing when the pork is done

How to Roast The pork

How to Carve The pork

How to Prepare The Trimmings

HISTORY OF THE ROAST DINNER

Pork is the most widely eaten meat in the world, accounting for about 38% of meat production worldwide.

Roast Pork is most commonly eaten on Sundays throughout the UK at a family gathering, though it's also a very affordable option to enjoy as a midweek meal. This is a centuries old tradition which is still going strong up to the present day.

The Sunday Roast originated in England as a meal to be eaten after church whether it be pork, mutton, beef or a fowl. Eating a large meal following church services is common to all of the continent of Europe as with other Christian countries, but the Sunday Roast variant of this meal is uniquely English. On Sundays, all types of meat and dairy produce are allowed to be eaten.

There are two historical points on the origins of the modern Sunday roast. In the late 1700's, during the industrial revolution in the United Kingdom, families would place a cut of meat into the oven as they got ready for church. They would then add in vegetables such as potatoes, turnips and parsnips before going to church on a Sunday morning. When they returned from the church the dinner was all but ready. The juices from the meat and vegetables were used to make a stock or gravy to pour on top of the dinner.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT JOINT FOR YOU

how to roast pork joint

Roast Pork Joint

Joints taken from the saddle such as Porchetta, Loin & Rack command the highest price point but are truly worth it. They are the most tender cuts with amazing fat covering creating the very best crunchy crackling, these are real centerpieces for the table, though these are the most prized cuts there still at a great price point. The tenderloin 'fillet' also comes from the Loin though it doesn't fit into the roast category, it is more suited for quick cooks.

Other joints which are more popular on a regular basis & less expensive are the Pork Leg, Rolled & Flat Belly Pork & Silverside, all of which make for excellent roasts.

Other less common joints we feature are the Shoulder Joint, the Rump taken skillfully from the top of the leg & Norwegian Belly, these plus many more all work for great roasts.

Roasting 'on the bone' joints

how to roast pork rack

Roast Pork Rack

The benefits of roasting pork on the bone is an added flavour profile as the meat roasts its naturally boasted by the goodness the bone will produce. Less shrinkage & better retention of moisture. It can be more tricky to carve though following the basic principle of carving at the same angles as the bone is facing will make the task a lot simpler.

Resting time is paramount & I would suggest a minimum of 10 minutes per 450g resting time.

JEFF'S PREFERED ROASTING JOINTS

My Preferred choice of joints for Traditional Roast Pork are Trimmed Rack of Pork Loin, Pork Rump Joint & Flat Pork Belly joints.

how to roast pork raw Pork Belly

Flat Pork Belly: A very traditional, affordable cut which was my family treat on a Sunday. It is a very forgiving joint as its interlaced with layers of rich, buttery fat which acts as a moisturising agent whilst the joint roasts, the combination of amazing crackling & meltingly tender, unctuous meat beneath really is a treat, so there is no surprise it's so popular around the globe in its many guises. Served with a rich onion gravy, glazed carrots, roasties & seasonal brassicas with a dollop of your favourite mustard makes for a wonderful meal.

Pork Rump Joint: A mid priced cut, similar in style to the Beef rump, simple to roast & easy to carve, it's really big on flavour, it has a rich, caramel flavour when roasted, with a good covering of fat. This makes for a really pleasing family roast, served alongside a Tangy Granny Smith applesauce, Sage & onion stuffing & a selected seasonal vegetables.

Trimmed Rack of Pork Loin: A more expensive cut, for a special occasion. This super tender joint is easy to carve, whether served as thick cut style chops or more traditionally cut thin it's a very consistent roast with tender, unctuous meat & a good covering of fat sealing in the juices as it roasts. It is the perfect roasting joint served with classic Mustard Sauce, Gratin Dauphinoise & buttered brassicas.

HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT CRACKLING

The secret to making perfect crackling is based on a few key factors:

  1. Husbandry; how the animal has been reared, outdoor reared pigs matured over a longer period of time on a proper diet which creates the higher levels of good quality fat.
  2. Choosing the right joint; the roast must have a good layer of fat & skin attached, best joints can be from the loin, belly & leg. The meat should be dry & the fat firm to touch when pressed with a thumb, not dissimilar to butter just taken from the chiller.
  3. Scalding the skin pre cooking; this is a simple process, get your butcher to score the skin then simply boil the kettle & slowly pour over the skin with the pork sat on a wire rack skin side facing upwards over the sink. Leave to steam dry before rubbing with fine sea salt then roasting in a very hot oven for the first 25 minutes or so to create a crust then continue cooking following our guide below.

HOW TO KNOW WHAT TEMPERATURE TO COOK YOUR ROAST PORK AT:

Oven temperatures

Gas Mark Centigrade °C Fan Assisted ° C Fahrenheit °F Description
1 140 120 275 Very Cool
2 150 130 300 Cool
3 170 150 325 Warm
4 180 160 350 Moderate
5 190 170 375 Fairly Hot
6 200 180 400 Fairly Hot
7 220 200 425 Hot
8 230 210 450 Very Hot
9 240 220 475 Extremely Hot

Core meat temperatures for Roast Pork

Core Temperature °C From oven °C After resting °F From oven °F After resting To Touch
Rare 50-54°C 54-56°C 122-130°F 130-132°F Very Soft
Medium Rare 56-58°C 58-60°C 132-136°F 136-140°F Soft
Medium 60-62°C 62-64°C 140-144°F 144-148°F Springy
Well Done 68-70°C 70-75°C 154-158°F 158-167°F Firm

HOW TO CHECK IF YOU'RE PORK IS DONE

Alternative ways to check core temperatures:

Testing with your finger

The best way is to press the thickest part of the joint with your index finger, if the joint is soft to touch it will be rare, the more firm to the touch the more well done the joint wil be cooked, we recommend that pork is thoroughly cooked, & clear juices run out when pierced with a fork.

Test with a thermometer

Ensure your thermometer is very clean before probing, simply dip the needle into boiling water for 5 seconds before & after immersing in the joint. Pierce the needle into the centre of the joint & hold for a few seconds, the temperature should read a minimum of 68°C before removing from the oven.

Test with tongs

You can test for doneness with tongs. Gently prod the roast - rare is very soft, medium rare is soft, medium is springy but soft, medium well is firm and well done is very firm. we recommend that pork is thoroughly cooked, & clear juices run out when pierced with a fork.

HOW TO ROAST YOU'RE JOINT OF PORK

Trimmed Rack of Pork Loin:

  1. Remove the joint from the fridge & packaging upto 1 hour before roasting
  2. Score the skin of the pork with a sharp knife, every centimetre or so across the whole surface (this can be done by your butcher)
  3. Scald the skin by placing the pork skin side up, then place over a wire rack in the sink & slowly pour a full kettle of boiling water over the pork, then pat dry & season with fine sea salt
  4. Place the joint onto a bed of chopped onion, carrot & celery with some fresh thyme & a couple of bay leaves (this will be the base for your gravy)
  5. Roast the joint in a preheated oven, 230°C or 210°C fan assisted for 25-30 minutes until the crackling has become golden brown & started popping
  6. Reduce oven temperature to 180°C or 160°C fan assisted & continue roasting the joint following the simple chart below for your doneness
  7. Remove from roasting tray & keep warm under a foil tent whilst making the gravy
  8. Rest for 8-10 minutes per 450g before carving

TIP: Always carve against the grain

Roast the joint for 25 minutes @ 230°C or 210°C fan assisted then reduce heat to 180°C or 160°C fan assisted for every 450g thereafter.

Well done 20-25 minutes per 450g.

Pork Rump Joint:

  1. Remove the joint from the fridge & packaging upto 1 hour before roasting
  2. Score the skin of the pork with a sharp knife, every centimetre or so across the whole surface (this can be done by your butcher)
  3. Scald the skin by placing the pork skin side up over a wire rack in the sink & slowly pour a full kettle of boiling water over the pork, then pat dry & season with fine sea salt
  4. Place the joint onto a bed of chopped onion, carrot & celery with some fresh thyme & a couple of bay leaves (this will be the base for your gravy)
  5. Roast the joint in a preheated oven, 230°C or 210°C fan assisted for 25-30 minutes
  6. Reduce oven temperature to 160°C or 140°C fan assisted & continue roasting the joint following the simple chart below for your doneness
  7. Remove from roasting tray & keep warm under a foil tent whilst making the gravy
  8. Rest for 8-10 minutes per 450g before carving

TIP: Always carve against the grain

Roast the joint for 25 minutes @ 230°C or 210°C fan assisted then reduce heat to 160°C or 140°C fan assisted for every 450g (lb) thereafter

Well done 30-35 minutes per 450g

Flat Pork Belly:

  1. Remove the joint from the fridge & packaging upto 1 hour before roasting
  2. Score the skin of the pork with a sharp knife, every centimetre or so across the whole surface (this can be done by your butcher)
  3. Scald the skin by placing the pork skin side up over a wire rack in the sink & slowly pour a full kettle of boiling water over the pork, then pat dry & season with fine sea salt
  4. Place the joint onto a bed of chopped onion, carrot & celery with some fresh thyme & a couple of bay leaves (this will be the base for your gravy)
  5. Roast the joint in a preheated oven, 230°C or 210°C fan assisted for 25-30 minutes
  6. Reduce oven temperature to 160°C or 140°C fan assisted & continue roasting the joint following the simple chart below for your doneness
  7. Remove from roasting tray & keep warm under a foil tent whilst making the gravy
  8. Rest for 8-10 minutes per 450g before carving

TIP: Always carve against the grain

Roast the joint for 25 minutes @ 230°C or 210°C fan assisted then reduce heat to 160°C or 140°C fan assisted for every 450g (lb) thereafter.

Well done 30-35 minutes per 450g

HOW TO CARVE YOUR ROAST PORK JOINT

Choosing the best tools

Carving knife

The longer and sharper the blade of your knife, the better. If you do not have a knife specifically for carving, a large, very sharp, serrated bread knife will do the job although the slices will not look as attractive.

Carving fork

A large carving fork helps to hold the joint steady while carving.

Chopping Board.

Choose a heavy chopping board, preferably wooden with a groove set around the perimeter to capture any juices. Set the board on damp kitchen paper, J cloth or a clean damp tea towel so the board does not move when carving.

Steel/knife sharpener

If you are using a traditional carving knife, get into the habit of sharpening it before every use. Sharpening a blunt knife is really difficult & takes years of practice.

There is a wide range of easy to use knife sharpeners on the market which work very well, my favourite is the Chantry knife sharpener, retailing around £30.

Carve against the grain

We've all at some point heard the saying always carve against the grain.

The grain means the visible layers of muscle fibres that hold the meat together and run in one direction, lengthways along the joint of meat.

If you were to carve with the grain you would see long streaks of fatty sinew and each slice would be chewy. Carving against the grain results in tender slices.

Carving techniques

First and foremost, relax. Do not clench the knife but use a light grip. Use a long slicing motion and let the knife do the work.

Try to glide your way through each slice in one or two motions to avoid shredding the meat. Always position the carving fork between you and the knife to avoid any accidents.

Roast 'off the bone' joints

If you are carving a boneless joint such as Loin & Rump, place the piece of pork lengthways so the grain runs parallel to the work surface. Remove any strings attached with scissors before carving.

Holding it in position gently with your carving fork, cut slices from it as if it were a loaf of bread, starting at the wider end. If the end is uneven, make the first slice thicker than the others to get a level surface from which to continue carving.

The thickness of the slices is a matter of preference, my preference is to aim for a minimum thickness of 3mm on the less expensive cuts such as silverside & leg then 5mm on the more prized joints such as the loin or a porchetta for optimum mouth feel.

Transfer the slices to a warm serving dish overlapping as you carve to retain the heat.

Roast 'on the bone' joints

The prime cut of pork on the bone for roasting is the Rack.

Some of the tastiest morsels of pork will be clinging to the bones.

Separate the ribs, stroke the knife parallel with the bones cutting through attached meat to separate and serve alongside the carved joint.

Holding the joint in position gently with your carving fork, cut slices from it as if it were a loaf of bread, starting at the wider end. If the end is uneven, make the first slice thicker than the others to get a level surface from which to continue carving.

The thickness of the slices is a matter of preference, my preference is to aim for 5mm..

Transfer the slices to a warm serving dish overlapping as you carve to retain the heat.

HOW TO COOK THE TRIMMINGS FOR A ROAST PORK DINNER

For the Rich onion Gravy:

Serves 6 / Prep 20 mins / Cook 20 mins / Easy

Ingredients

4 Spanish onions

10 g butter

5 g sea salt

10 g unrefined sugar

Bay leaf

Teaspoon thyme leaves picked

500 ml rich chicken stock (Essential cuisine is our preferred choice)

1 tsp. corn flour mixed with a little cold water

Method

  1. Take 4 large Spanish onions, peel, cut in half through the core, remove the core and slice the onion very finely (this is called lyonnaise).
  2. Add the butter and 2 tablespoons water to a heavy based pan.
  3. Add the onions, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar, a few thyme leaves and one fresh bay leaf.
  4. Place a lid on and cook over a medium heat until the onions collapse and become sweet and translucent, then remove lid, increase heat a little and cook until rich and glossy.
  5. Pour the stock over the onions & bring to a simmer skimming any fat from the surface.
  6. Reduce a little then thicken slightly by whisking the corn flour mix into the simmering stock & continue to cook for a few moments.
  7. This gravy works really well with many dishes including roast pork, grilled calves liver & toad in the hole.

Note: For a smooth onion gravy simply blend with a stick blender until fully smooth then pass through a fine sieve.

For the Granny Smith Apple Sauce:

Serves 6 / prep 5 mins / cook 15 mins / easy

Ingredients

2 x Granny smiths Apples (peeled, cored & roughly chopped)

1 tbsp unsalted butter

Juice of half a lemon

1 tsp. white unrefined sugar

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients into a heavy based saucepan
  2. Add a splash of water then cover with a tight fitting lid
  3. Cook over a low to medium heat until the apples become soft & translucent
  4. Remove lid & increase heat cooking for a further minute or two
  5. Either smash with the back of a fork for a more rustic sauce or blend to a fine puree using a stick blender or food processor

For The Traditional Roast Potatoes:

Serves 6 / prep 10 mins/ cook 1 hour / Easy

Ingredients

1 kg King Edward or Maris Piper potato

75 g goose or duck fat

1 bulb garlic split in half

A few sprigs of thyme

Sea salt & freshly cracked black pepper

Method

  1. Peel, wash & cut the potatoes into even sized pieces, quarters or into six if the potatoes are very large
  2. Preheat the oven to 230°C or 210°C fan assisted
  3. Cover the potatoes with lightly salted cold water & parboil the potatoes for 10-12 minutes then drain in a colander, leave them to cool a little then give them a little shake around to rough up the edges being careful not to break them.
  4. Pour the fat into a roasting tin, preferably the tin you have roasted your join in & place in the oven until smoking hot
  5. Carefully slide the potatoes into the tray & turn in the fat until fully coated
  6. Add the thyme & garlic to the tray & return to the oven for 20 minutes
  7. Remove the tray from oven & carefully turn each potato over, returning back to the over for a further 20 minutes until golden brown & crisp
  8. Season with sea salt flakes & cracked pepper then serve straight away

For the Sage & Onion Stuffing:

SERVES 6/ PREP 15 MINS / COOK 1 HOUR / EASY

Ingredients

350g Nidderdale Sausage Meat

100g fresh white breadcrumbs

1 large free range egg

1 large white onion (peeled & finely chopped)

Knob of unsalted butter

8 fresh sage leaves roughly chopped

Pinch sea salt

Method

  1. Soften the onions in the butter over a low heat until soft & translucent, remove from heat & cool
  2. Once the onions are cool mix into the sausage meat with the remaining ingredients & mix together thoroughly
  3. Place the mixture onto a roasting tray
  4. Roast in a preheated oven 220°C or 200°C fan assisted for 45 minutes, until the top is rich & golden & the stuffing is piping hot in the centre, a minimum of 70°C