"I like to use a free-range old-breed pig such as Berkshire or large black," says Hafner. "They have a much better flavour and the fat is soft and delicious. They also seem to make the best crackling. I ask for a female pig - their flavour is better. Order one at your local farmers' market or specialist butcher. Leave the pork in the fridge uncovered overnight - it helps to dry the skin, which makes good crackling. I like to cook pork gently and past well done so it falls off the bone. This requires some attention. Take the pork out of the oven and give the meat a prod - when it's ready it will yield; if it springs back return it to the oven for another 15 minutes. If you find that the crackling has not quite crackled enough, you can turn the heat up to 200C and give the pork one last blast - that should do it." Start this recipe a day ahead to dry the pork skin.
- 1 whole pork shoulder (4kg), bone in and scored (see note)
- 1 cup coarsely chopped wild fennel fronds (see note)
- Finely grated rind of 3 lemons
- 2 tbsp coarsely chopped rosemary
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
- 3 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 3 onions, coarsely chopped
- 400 ml light red wine
- 1Refrigerate scored pork uncovered overnight to dry out skin and remove from the fridge an hour before cooking.
- 2Preheat oven to 190C. Pound wild fennel, lemon rind, rosemary and garlic with a mortar and pestle to a pulp. Add oil, then rub marinade into the flesh of the pork (not the skin), season and leave covered with a tea towel (45 minutes).
- 3Scatter celery, carrot and onion in a roasting pan and place pork on top. Rub the skin with 1 tbsp oil and sprinkle liberally with fine sea salt (about 15gm; don’t worry about the amount of salt – helps the crackling form and you brush it off later). Reduce oven to 180C and roast pork for 1 hour, then add a third of the wine to the pan, reduce oven to 165C and continue to roast pork, topping up with wine (and water if needed) so there’s always liquid in the bottom of the pan – this keeps pork juicy and makes a delicious sauce – until meat is very tender and falls off the bone, and skin has crackled well (4kg pork will take about 4 hours in total). Set aside to rest for 30-40 minutes.
- 4Transfer pork to a carving board – carefully lifting the pork wearing kitchen gloves works best – and brush off excess salt. Strain pan juices into a saucepan and skim off the fat, then taste the sauce – add a little water if it’s too strong, or reduce it further to concentrate the flavours. Serve with pork.
Note Ask your butcher to score the pork skin for you. Wild fennel can be found growing along creeks and rivers. Alternatively you can use 2 tbsp fennel seeds, ground.
Drink Suggestion: A great pinot noir such as a Chambertin from the Côte de Nuits, or, keeping it local, Bass Phillip Premium Pinot Noir, Cobaw Ridge, or a Sinapius pinot noir. Drink suggestion by James Broadway