One of the most surprising, and, frankly, deeply distressing things about moving to the USA from Australia is the fact that there are no pork cuts (in this part of the country, anyway) that come with the skin—or rind—attached. No rind on bacon, no rind on pork chops, nothing! But the worst omission was from the roasts. No skin! In Australia, a roast pork on a Sunday night, complete with a beautiful, bronzed, bubbly layer of crackling, is an important tradition. Crackling is the best part of the whole deal. It’s crunchy, salty, melt-in-the-mouth deliciousness.
It wasn’t until my first trip to the outlets in Manchester that I found a butcher that offered whole animal butchery: Vermont Butcher Shop. Yes, that’s right—the ones who have recently opened in Rutland. How convenient! Whole animal butchery is fairly self explanatory, really, but specifically in this situation it means that the skin can be left on during the butchering process.
How wonderful! If you haven’t been there yet, and you are a fan of good quality, ethical, local meat, I really encourage you to go and check them out.
We had a friend visiting for dinner last Friday and I felt the call to make roast pork, so I called VBS and ordered a 3-4 lb rolled pork loin, skin on. When I picked it up, I had them score and roll it up for me as well. I recommend this. Their knives are almost always going to be sharper than yours (certainly they’re sharper than mine!). Unfortunately, when I cooked this meal, I forgot to take a picture, so the accompanying photo does not show a rolled roast; it’s one I made back in Australia.
I love to serve roast pork with roasted root vegetables—potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.—but I wasn’t in charge of sides for this meal and I’m sure you, dear reader, have your own excellent roast veg recipe. I did, however, make some apple sauce in the fall, the last jar of which we popped open for this meal, so I thought I’d pop that recipe in as well.
Roast Pork Loin & Apple Sauce
- 3-4 lb rolled pork loin
- Vegetable oil
- 4 apples, peeled if desired
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp butter
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 2 tsp lemon juice
Preheat oven to 440F. Place a rack into a roasting pan. Give the pork a quick rub with some oil, just enough to make the skin somewhat sticky. Liberally rub salt into the skin, making sure it gets into the score marks. The old Aussie saying goes, if you think you’ve got enough salt, add more. That’s by no means a literal recipe instruction but you really do need a lot of salt – this helps the skin to dehydrate and really puff up and crackle. If you want to, you could add some pork-friendly spices here, perhaps some cumin seeds, dried sage, or rosemary. I think the pork is flavorful enough so I don’t tend to add anything.
Roast the pork for 20 minutes at 440F, then turn the oven down to 375F. Roast the pork for another approximately 75 minutes. I really recommend using a meat thermometer here. You’re looking for an internal temperature of at least 145F. This is the best temperature to aim for because it does cook a little more as it rests.
While the pork is cooking, coarsely grate your apples, leaving the cores, stems, and seeds behind. Squeeze out most of the liquid, then put all the gratings in a saucepan along with the rest of the ingredients except the lemon juice. Cover and cook on low-medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You really just want the apple to be gently steaming in the liquid. After 10 minutes, check to see if the apple is soft enough to be mashed easily with a fork. If so, mash until it reaches your desired consistency. I like my applesauce with some texture, but you may prefer yours to be smooth; if so, I’d recommend a stick blender, but be very careful about splatter, as the sauce is very hot.
Taste the sauce and, if necessary, add some lemon juice. I find that applesauce can be very sweet, but I do feel the addition of brown sugar adds a nice caramel note, so balance it out with lemon juice if required.
Check your roast, and if it’s ready, but the skin is still a little blonde, you can turn the broiler on low for a few minutes to crisp it up. Remove it from the oven and rest it for at least 10 minutes, lightly covered with foil.
Carve and serve with roast vegetables, crunchy slaw, and, of course, applesauce!