I can’t believe and/or understand how this year has gone by so quickly! Everyone says that every single year, and the older I get the more I say it. Thankfully this year I am not in charge of all the Christmas planning, and I have been able to relax a little bit. That left me plenty of time to think about food, not that I really need a specific time to do so; I always think about food and what I will be eating next. That’s me! Anyway, moving on.
I love a good roast and there’s no better time for one than this. It’s simple and tastes great, and an alternative to the traditional bird, which alas is not my favourite. Turkey may be leaner, which contributes to its dryness, but you want the fat in a recipe like this. The crackling keeps the meat moist so keep it for the roasting process and discard it before carving. It’s too much for me to be honest, and a little chunk goes a long way. It all depends on what you like.
A note on the cooking times, according to the size of the meat, I would work on the lines of around 55 minutes to an hour per kilo plus 25 to 30 minutes on top of that. Of course, these times may vary. Mine took an extra 30 minutes or so to cook properly, but the best way to test this is with a meat thermometer. You will never go wrong with that. For pork the ideal temperature is around 75 to 80ºC.
- 1.8kg leg of pork, skin on
- course salt
- mustard powder
- 3 large red onions, halved, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 sticks celery, washed and sliced
- 1 whole head of garlic, chopped in half, skin on
- 6 to 8 large baking potatoes, washed and cut into chunky wedges
Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Remove the pork from the packaging and with a clean thick kitchen towel pat the skin to make sure it’s dry.
Score the skin with a sharp knife if your butcher has not done it for you beforehand, and rub the skin with salt and mustard powder. If you’re sharing the crackling with a large group of friends then use the mustard powder. If you’re cooking for a few people and plan to throw the crackling away, then just rub the skin with the salt.
Place the chopped onions, carrots and celery in the middle of a baking tray, and put the pork onto the vegetables. Put the two garlic halves beside the pork.
Roast the pork for 1 hour at 200ºC, then take the dish out of the oven and slowly place the potatoes around the pork and veggies. Slowly…because you don’t want to splatter any hot fat and hurt yourself in the process. Turn the temperature down to 175ºC. Put the dish back in the oven and continue to roast for around 1 hour 25 minutes.
Take the pork and vegetables out of the oven, place the pork leg and the potatoes on a warm serving place and let the pork rest for 25 minutes in a warm place as close to the oven as possible. Don’t serve this piping hot, you really don’t need to and it’s important to let the meat rest before carving. I don’t cover with foil either – the crackling is enough to leave the pork moist. Remove the crackling just before carving. You can either serve this in chunks or discard it.
If you are making gravy, spoon any excess fat from the bottom of the roasting dish and strain the liquid through a sieve into a saucepan. Add a splash of cider or even red vermouth to the liquid. In a small ramekin mix a rounded teaspoon of cornstarch/cornflour with cold water until you get a pasty but still watery mixture. Quickly pour this in the saucepan and whisk it until you get a smooth gravy. Pour this in a gravy boat and serve with the pork and potatoes.
If you’re eating this with your beloved, as I did, there will be plenty of leftovers for the next two or three days!
This is my last recipe for the year. Enjoy and a Happy Christmas! See you all in the New Year. Take care of yourselves.