Pork Loin and Crackling with Hassel Back Potatoes
- 4 pounds pork loin, center cut with a thick rind/fat cap, skin intact
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 8 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- Hassel Back Potatoes, recipe follows
- Apple Chutney, recipe follows
- Special equipment: butcher's twine, a roasting pan and rack
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
Score the rind, using long, parallel slits 1/8 to 1/4-inch apart across the width of the loin; be careful to cut only halfway to the flesh (see Cook's Note**). Rub the rind with the salt, ensuring that the salt is rubbed well into the slits. Rub the rind with 1/2 of the olive oil.
Flip the loin over and rub the flesh side with the remaining olive oil. Place the garlic, thyme, and rosemary up against the flesh. Using butcher's twine, tie the herbs to the loin.
Place the loin on a rack in a roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and arrange the potatoes at the bottom of the roasting rack. Reduce the heat to 425 degrees F. Return the roast to the oven to cook for 1 additional hour or until an instant-read thermometer poked into the center of the loin reaches 150 degrees F. Remove from the oven and let the loin rest for 30 minutes; the internal temperature will continue to rise about 10 degrees F, and the loin will finish cooking while it's resting (see Cook's Note***).
Slice the "crackling" (crunch skin) off in 1 piece and cut into 1/4-inch strips. Slice the pork loin into 1/4-inch slices. Serve the pork loin warm with Cracklings, Hassel Back Potatoes, and Apple Chutney.
Cook's Notes: *Do not use extra virgin olive oil for long cooking because it has a lower smoking point and can impart a bitter flavor if overheated; pure or light olive oil is recommended because they have higher smoking points.
**We used a thoroughly sanitized box cutter to score the pork rind, but you can also use a very sharp paring knife.
***Resting meat after the cooking process gives the meat time to redistribute its natural juices and makes it moister.Hassel Back Potatoes:
24 small Yukon gold potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus salt to season
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus pepper to season
Place a potato in the palm of a wooden spoon. Use a sharp knife to make cuts 3/4 of the way down the width of each potato about 1/8-inch apart. Toss the potatoes with olive oil, 1 tablespoon salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
Place the potatoes in the bottom of a roasting pan, evenly spaced apart. Cook underneath the roast during the last hour of cooking, until fork tender. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 cups thinly sliced Vidalia onions, see Cook Note*
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups apple cider
2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar, plus 1/3 cup
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, see Cook's Note**
1 star anise
Special Equipment: Potato Masher
In a large saute pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and 1 tablespoon of salt and cover. Saute until onions are translucent. Add the apple cider and increase to high heat. Reduce the cider until nearly evaporated. Add the vinegar and 1 cup sugar; stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the apples and star anise. Cover and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 10 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature with pork, chicken, or curried dishes.
Cook's Notes: *Any sweet yellow or white onion, such as a Maui or Walla Walla, can be used in place of Vidalia onions.
Recipe courtesy The Cookworks, 2003