Monday, December 30, 2013



My aim in CHEF TALK is to share some of my cooking experiences with you and to provide insight and ideas as to how and what to do when choosing products you may not be too familiar with and also how to work recipes.
With that in mind I will also explain how to make best use of a vacuum sealer.
Many home cooks often see a recipe that looks fantastic, appetizing, delicious, and has a pretty picture and decide to cook that to surprise the family.
I also try to surprise the family when I cook. Then the most exciting part of cooking is to see happy faces around the dinner table. Besides getting the results you desire of course.
Finding a recipe is easy, finding a good recipe is another story. The same goes for reading recipes which require a decent knowledge of cooking.
Some people only need the idea, which a nice picture often provides, but most of us will still need the ‘how much of this and how much of that’ part.
It can be quite tough however to see or read from a recipe (if you are on the right track, replacing parts of the recipe or omitting ingredients). Stacks of recipes from the internet are not workable, many are good, no denial, but which is which.
What do you do with leftovers if the quantities given are too large?  
Best is to start with an example and work through that recipe.
I love crackling pork. Millions of people love crackling pork, the sound alone makes your mouth water.
Crackling pork is a must have meat dish to have on a regular basis especially for Australian and British meat lovers. 


There are basically two types of crackling pork, one made from bone-in cuts, like pork loins with ribs and whole pork shoulders, the other one made from bone-less cuts of meat, like pork belly or pork loins without ribs.
Choose the cut of meat that suits your family best but make sure that your cut of meat has the skin intact.
In order to get that lovely ‘crackling’ effect, you need to score the skin of the meat, preferably vertically in one direction and about the size of a finger apart from each other.
This type of scoring makes it easy to slice the meat after cooking, because you can follow the score lines and is essential to get the crackling right.
Pork skin is pretty tough and you will need a really sharp knife to achieve good scoring, make sure that only the skin is cut, the scoring should not go all the way through and reach the lean meat.
A Stanley knife works well. Another good tool is your butcher, he will be pleased to help you out. It is a good idea also to tell your butcher how you want your cut of meat.  
Now you have the right cut of meat and you are almost there.
You only need to cook it. Sounds simple and it is, because you started on the right foot.
The recipe for crackling pork is maybe the simplest you have ever seen.
It is comprised of the scored cut of meat and crushed rock salt. That’s all.
Next pressure points to look at are your oven temperature and the cooking time.
Rub crushed rock salt on the skin side of the meat. Make sure the salt penetrates the score lines. 
When you do this, the salt extracts moisture from the fat under the skin and the fat will start bubbling around the whole piece of meat.
You can rub the salt a day before cooking, but that is an option not a necessity.

Your cooking time should be: 35 minutes per pound of bone-in meat.
25 minutes per pound of bone-less meat.


Pre-heat your oven to 400 F or 240-250 Celsius. You need this heat to get the crackling going.
Place the meat on an oven tray and position the tray in the center of your oven, allow roasting for about 30 to 35 minutes.
You should now see that the skin is getting blisters. When that is the case, lower the heat to 325 to 350 F or 180 to 200 Celsius and continue roasting as per the given time.
Likely your piece of meat will be about 1 ½ to 2 kilos, if your meat is boneless you need 1 hour to an hour and a half of total cooking time.
Check with a meat thermometer to be sure that the roast is cooked. The thermometer should point at 170 F or 74 Celsius. 
Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
Slice and serve.
To accompany the roast, choose roast potatoes, garden vegetables and apple sauce.
What you have achieved is a great dish, because you had: 
The right recipe
The right preparation
The right cooking method


From a good butcher you will get the best cut of meat you are looking for but you may not use the meat the same day you purchase it.
If so, vacuum seal the meat and it will stay in perfect condition, up to 4–5 days chilled.  If you need to keep it longer, vacuum seal and freeze  it and it will stay in perfect condition for at least 3-4 months.
I mentioned earlier that your piece of meat will likely be 1 ½ to 2 kilos so it may well be that you have some balance.
If so, let the roasted meat cool through completely, best overnight, slice it (without the skin) as thin as you possibly can.
Portion the slices and vacuum seal in smaller vacuum bags, the roasted meat becomes an extraordinary sandwich filling. You can store the sliced roasted meat chilled and keep up to two weeks.
Use your vacuum sealer for raw/fresh produce but also for cooked produce. 

Ensure that you work clean. Good hygiene lengthens storage time and product freshness significantly.

Enjoy the ‘Crackling Pork’ !! 

Written for PMG
By (Professional Chef) Marinus Hoogendoorn 
Culinary expert in recipe development.


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