What’s cooking today: A Crackling Good Quest, the just add lemon edition

What’s cooking today: A Crackling Good Quest, the just add lemon edition
Roasted rolled pork belly with super-crackly crackling. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

That pork belly roll you buy that’s already tied with string? The string needs to be snipped away, the joint unrolled, some aromatics put inside, and the belly rolled up again. As for the crackling good crackling, here’s another way we tried and liked a lot: just add lemon juice.

It’s a known theory that squeezing lemon juice all over the hard rind of a pork joint helps to conduct the oven’s heat to the skin. Sceptical though I was, I tried it this weekend, and it worked a treat. This method presumes that your oven is very hot, and it’s also wise to salt the skin so much that you might fear it is in fact too much. Chances are it will be just what the rind needs for that extra crunch.


1 x 1.5 kg pork belly roast

Olive oil

Juice of 2 lemons

Plenty of salt and black pepper

Oregano sprigs

Crushed garlic (dried, from a jar)

Kitchen string


(Photo: Tony Jackman)

Preheat the oven to 220℃.

If you’ve bought a pre-rolled belly, remove the string and roll it out (the pork, not the string). 

Salt the flesh side generously and season with black pepper. Lay out oregano sprigs all over (I used about 8 sprigs), season with crushed garlic, roll it up and tie it tightly with kitchen string in four or five places.

Season the rind with salt and drizzle generously with olive oil.

Before adding any lemon juice, roast in the preheated very hot oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and, working quickly, squeeze the juice of 2 lemons all over, top, sides and bottom. Get it back into the oven immediately and shut the door.

Roast for 10 more minutes at 220℃ then turn the heat down to 190℃ and roast for another 90 minutes.

Turn the heat up to 270℃ (or the highest your oven will go) and roast for another 30 minutes.

Turn the oven off, open the door wide and leave it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. DM/TGIFood 

Read parts 1 and 2 of our Crackling Good Quest series here and here

To enquire about Tony Jackman’s book, foodSTUFF (Human & Rousseau) please email him at [email protected] 

SUBSCRIBE: Our Thank God It’s Food newsletter is sent to subscribers every Friday at 6pm, and published on the TGIFood platform on Daily Maverick. It’s all about great reads on the themes of food and life. Subscribe here.


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