I often get asked "what's the best piece of Pork to use as a roast?" and my answer is always the same... "How the hell should i know, my crystal ball is still at the garage!"Joking aside, it all depends on how many people you need to feed. Personally, i prefer leg, which takes longer to cook and gives a better crackling. The downside being, it's huge and will feed a whole battalion! It probably wouldn't fit in your domestic oven anyway. Even a half leg is probably too large for a small family unless you want cold pig sandwiches for a year and cutting it down into a two pounder will give you something that resembles a large steak, which isn't any good for roasting either. So, for large get-togethers, huge families or hog-roasts, leg is best.
The loin is also a big boy, but being a lot thinner is a good roasting joint when cut in half or even three or four. For smaller joints your crackling is in the lap of the gods but cooking it on the bone will benefit you in three ways.
One - it takes longer to cook so the outside should yield better crackling.
Two - The pork loin eye has no fat. You will often hear people whinge 'my pork was dry!'' The fact of the matter is, if your pork is dry it has been over-cooked. The bone sheet will protect the normally 'open' side of a boned and rolled joint while the skin protects the rest. Don't be afraid if your pork is a little rosé in the centre, this is a bonus and perfectly safe. But please remember... i said 'a little rosé!'
Three - What adds flavour to a good stock? Bones. Why should you cook your loin on the bone? Flavour.
Fat for flavour...
Supermarket brainwash-pork has no fat but looks really nice in a pretty packet. So what? You don't eat the packet! 'Old' breeds are coming back strong, (at least they are in England) and i would go for Saddle-back, Gloucester Old Spot or Middle-White in that order. They are all proper pigs with a proper layer of fat between the meat and the skin. This fat melts during the cooking process, helping to keep the meat moist, the crackling crackling and also adds flavour. Please don't be afraid of fat.
'Ok, already! How do i cook it?'
There is absolutely no secret to cooking pork, and the ritual for preparing all joints for the oven is the same. Make sure your butcher has not only scored the skin but cut right through into the fat. Rubbing salt into the wounds is normally a bad thing but in this case it is s absolutely necessary. Ok, here's what you need...
Pork. See above. Then weigh it.
About ½ teaspoon of salt per pound of meat
Pepper to taste
A few tblspn of vegetable oil
Sprinkle the salt, pepper and oil over the top of the pork, rub the surface and right into the cuts, then throw it into a roasting tray. Add a few peeled carrots, an onion, a stick or two of celery and some fresh herbs. And that's it, ready to cook.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 °c.
It really doesn't matter which joint you use because you're going to cook it by weight. For every pound your pork weighs it needs to be sat in the oven for 22 minutes PLUS 22 minutes added to the total cooking time. Once cooked, take it out of the tray, onto a plate for and rest for 30 minutes before carving.
But don't throw the tray into the sink just yet. Stick it on a medium heat for a few minutes to allow the meat juices and residue to stick to the bottom and caramelize, then pour off the fat (You can use this to roast your potatoes). Add a glass of cider and half a pint of stock to the tray. Let it bubble up and give it a whisk then strain it into a jug. Voila! There's your gravy. All you need now is apple sauce...
Recipes for avoiding disaster