Chefs' Recipes

Jacqui Challinor's roast pork shoulder with ajo blanco

If pork and crackling are your Christmas essentials, this dish will tick all the boxes.

By Jacqui Challinor
  • 1 hr 20 mins preparation
  • 4 hrs cooking plus brining, resting
  • Serves 6 - 8
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"My dad is a fan of the slow roast so we always have one at Christmas" says Nomad chef Jacqui Challinor. "Plus it isn't Christmas without crackling." Roast potatoes are the perfect accessory.
Start this recipe a day ahead to make the ajo blanco and allow at least six hours to prepare the pork.


  • 375 gm sea salt
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns, toasted
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds, toasted
  • 1 head garlic, halved
  • 1 bunch parsley stalks (reserved from spice rub)
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 boneless pork shoulder (about 3.75kg), skin on, scored
  • 250 gm flat pancetta, thinly sliced
Ajo blanco
  • 25 gm crustless sourdough bread
  • 90 gm blanched almonds
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tsp sherry vinegar
Spice rub
  • 1 tbsp celery seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup (loosely packed) flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • ½ cup (loosely packed) sage
  • 100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon rind


  • 1
    Stir salt in 3.75 litres water in a large saucepan over high heat until it dissolves (15-20 minutes). Remove from heat, add spices, garlic, parsley, bay and thyme, cool and refrigerate until chilled. Transfer to a large non-reactive container, submerge pork in brine and refrigerate to brine (at least 2-3 hours or overnight).
  • 2
    For ajo blanco, soak bread in 125ml water (2-3 minutes), then squeeze out excess. Process almonds in a food processor until finely ground, add bread, garlic and oil and blend to a paste. With motor running, slowly add 250ml cold water and process until smooth. Add vinegar, season, strain and chill. This is best made a day ahead.
  • 3
    For spice rub, dry-roast spices until fragrant (30 seconds). Crush with a mortar and pestle, add garlic and herbs, crush to a paste, and stir in olive oil and lemon rind.
  • 4
    Preheat oven to 180°C. Rinse pork under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Roll pork as you would to truss, then trim off excess meat so it wraps neatly – you want a little excess skin at the end to wrap around so crackling wraps the cooked pork. Place shoulder skin-side down on a board and rub spice mix into flesh. Lay pancetta over pork, overlapping, to cover meat. Roll into a cylinder, tie at intervals with kitchen string, place on a rack in a roasting pan and roast until internal temperature reaches 68°C-70°C (3-3½ hours).
  • 5
    Increase oven to 225°C and roast until skin crackles (15-20 minutes). Remove from oven, rest for 30 minutes, then carve and serve with ajo blanco.


Drink suggestion: Tasmanian heritage apple cider. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.

  • undefined: Jacqui Challinor