Pork Scratchings: The Ultimate Pub Snack
Enjoy with a beer or two, or even with a glass of Pimms & Lemonade…
I first discovered the delight of pork scratchings in pubs in the Midlands (in fact, I think it was in my friend Gaynor’s parents’ pub in the summer of 1991) and, at the time, I struggled to find them anywhere else and even in the Midlands, only a few butchers and pubs sold them. Since then, I’ve noticed more and more factory-produced brands of pork scratchings appear on supermarket shelves, and while those are ok, nothing tastes like the pork scratchings you can buy from your local butcher (I’ve had some in recent years from various butchers at Doncaster Market and they were lovely).
To me, one of the best parts of eating roast pork is a perfectly crackled skin, but there never seems to be enough of it! And what about those times when you just fancy a few pork scratchings to nibble on with a drink, rather than a roast dinner? Morrisons sell cheap packs of pork skin you can use for crackling or pork scratchings. Also, your local butcher is likely to let you have a load of pork skin if you ask while you’re buying other meat.
In my case, I was buying a load of pork belly and pork shoulder to make Sardinian Sausages and Lincolnshire Sausages. The butcher kindly took off all the skin (far better than you could ever do at home, as I wanted most of the fat left on the meat for the sausages!), so I asked him to put the skin in a bag for me as I’d use it to make scratchings.
Here’s how I made the pork scratchings:
Cut the pieces of pork skin (rind) into rough pieces approx 2cm x 2cm in size. Pat them dry with a clean tea towel.
Heat some sunflower oil in a pan (make sure you use a pan with lots of spare space above the oil as it will get quite ‘active’ when you put the skins in!) on a high heat. You’ll know it’s hot enough if it starts boiling and spitting quite violently when you place a piece of pork skin into it.
Put a few pieces of pork skin in (about 6-7 per batch, maximum, depending on the size of your pan), one after the other, being very careful to stand back and keep your face away as the oil will spit furiously! Make sure the pieces of pork skin have plenty of room. They have a tendency to want to stick together, so once the spitting has calmed down a little, move them around with a long-handled slotted metal spoon (always making sure you don’t get splashed!).
Once they have curled up a bit and gone golden brown (after about 2-4 minutes), remove them with the slotted spoon and place them on a plate or tray covered in ample kitchen paper to absorb the oil.
Repeat the process with the remainder of the pieces of pork skin until they’re all fried, then leave to cool and drain for a few minutes.
Now re-immerse the already fried pieces of skin into the hot oil (they won’t spit quite as much this time so you can put a few more in at once) and fry for a further 2-3 minutes until they look crispier and a little darker.
Remove with the long-handled metal slotted spoon and place to drain on fresh kitchen paper. While still hot and oily, sprinkle liberally with fine sea salt (or seasalt flakes if you prefer) and as the pieces start cooling, roll them around in the salt that’s landed on the tissue so they each have a good amount of salt.
Leave to cool completely, then serve as crispy snacks.
Pork scratchings are delicious washed down with a cold beer! ;)