Perfect Roast Pork with Crackling

As roasts go, I think pork is pretty hard to beat (although this is at least partly because I absolutely adore crackling). It's also much easier than it sounds - in fact, I reckon this goes for nearly all roasts. Sunday lunch has a reputation for being stressful and difficult to prepare, but I promise that this is pretty much as easy as it gets. For a special occasion, you could add all sorts of fancy sides to this, but here I've just gone for some absolutely amazing roast potatoes, and one of my favourite simple veg dishes - boiled peas and carrots with butter, wholegrain mustard and a pinch of sea salt.

A piece of boneless pork shoulder, with the skin on, approximately 1 kg
Freshly ground black pepper
For the potatoes:
3 large potatoes
Dried sage
For the vegetables:
3 large carrots
2 large handfuls of peas
Wholegrain mustard
For the gravy:
2 tbsp gravy powder
1 pint of water
Half a glass of red wine
A spoonful of jam (plum, blackberry or similar)
Dried sage

Serves 4

First of all, to make sure you get really good crackling, you should dry out the skin in advance. Use kitchen paper to blot the skin, then cover with a thin but even layer of salt (to draw out moisture) and leave to stand for about 30 minutes, before wiping most of the salt off with kitchen paper and blotting again. If you can, repeat this step.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Begin by working out how long your piece of meat needs to be in the oven for - you should allow 30 minutes per 500g, plus an extra 45 minutes (this includes ten minutes of resting time at the end). Use the point of a sharp knife to carefully score the skin of the pork before sprinkling with freshly ground black pepper and plenty of salt (this will help it crisp up). Place in the oven and set your timer.

Next, prepare your roast potatoes - see my How To page for the full method, but bear in mind that since the oven is on a lower temperature for this recipe, you should allow an extra ten minutes, making 70 minutes in total.

When you have about half an hour left on your timer, get started on the gravy - again, you can a find my full method for absolutely gorgeous gravy on the How To page. It's worth allowing plenty of time to make your gravy so that the flavours can really develop.

Once the gravy is at the simmering stage, peel and finely slice the carrots and pop into a pan of boiling water with the peas. Boil for ten minutes (I like my peas soft, but if you like them with a bit of a bite, make it seven minutes).

Finally, when there are about ten minutes to go, take the roast pork out of the oven and remove the crackling with the aid of a sharp knife (you'll probably find it doesn't take much encouragement to peel away from the meat, by this stage). Lay the crackling on a piece of tinfoil, fold up the edges to keep any juices in, and pop it back in the oven with your potatoes. Turn the temperature up to 200C for the last bit. In the meantime, cover the pork with more foil and set aside. This resting stage allows the meat to relax after the heat of the oven, so that it's juicier and more tender.

To serve, cut the pork and crackling into slices (you'll probably find it easier to cut the crackling with scissors than with a knife) and dish up with plenty of crisp, golden roasties, peas and carrots. Pour the dark fragrant gravy over the top, and don't forget a big glass of wine for the chef. Cheers!