Pork is going through a renaissance in Melbourne, with new cuts making a big impact on the local food scene. Pork Belly, in particular, is very popular in various Asian and European cuisines such as Spanish. As an avowed lover of pork this is a great thing. But let’s not disregard the old classics like plain and simple traditional roast pork with better crackling!
Today we feature an easy-to-make, traditional roast pork recipe that almost guarantees you achieve great pork crackling! Yes we know some people consider pork crackling not to be the healthiest food going around. But if there is a better taste anywhere in the world of meat roasting, then please let me know because I haven’t found that yet. And I have been searching for a long time! For this great delicacy, we can thank our founding British heritage here in Melbourne.
Today we also take a look at the impact of our British heritage with regard to Melbourne’s great, old architecture and the strong influence of the British on our diet. We also link to some great articles about where to eat great pork in Melbourne and nominate our favorite abode to enjoy a traditional roast pork with crackling.
Melbourne’s British Heritage
It’s no secret that the English settled Australia as a penal colony. The British brought their customs, laws, architecture and food and transplanted them onto the other side of the world into another hemisphere. It was only natural that buildings and food would resemble what they were used to in England. All the popular English vegetables, fruits and breeding animals for meats, were transported along with the convicts, guards and administrators. Buildings also resembled those back in England especially parliamentary and court buildings.
Luckily for Melbourne, gold was discovered nearby in the 1850’s. The gold rush brought huge money to Melbourne. Now there is a legacy of magnificent stone buildings from that era, both public and private, that is in plain evidence as you walk down Collins Street. A walk down tree-lined Collins Street is free and in my view a worthwhile highlight for tourists and locals alike.
Melbourne (and Australia), have the British to also thank for the great tradition of the Sunday Roast, with the popular choices being lamb, chicken, beef and of course pork. In Melbourne and particularly regional Victoria, the “Roast of the Day” is still a very popular menu item in pubs. I would hazard a guess and say that a roast is still the most popular meal prepared in the family home throughout Australia. Meat sold in Australia is of excellent quality. And pork in Australia is extremely popular.
Where to Enjoy Pork in Melbourne
Perfectly cooked, traditional roast pork is juicy and attached to the meat is the rich, golden, perfectly crunchy crackling. But where in Melbourne can the tourist or local get their fix of our British heritage roast meats? Surely the greatest contribution from Britain to the world food scene!
PLANNING AN UPCOMING
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Here is the Urban List’s 10 great places to enjoy a roast (not just pork) around Melbourne. Most of these establishments are located in inner Melbourne. The Urban List is a solid place for food recommendations.
Here is another list of great places to enjoy pork dishes around Melbourne, again most are in inner Melbourne. Note the prevalence of pork belly in this list.
My favorite for traditional roast pork? I would go to the Roast Kitchen in Kew. Enjoy!
Another popular menu item is (whole) suckling pig. November is good food month in Australia, the world’s biggest food festival. Many excellent, Melbourne restaurants offer this delicacy as part of the festival.
Can I have some Crackling with that Pork?
In Australia and Europe, when you buy a pork roasting joint it comes with the skin on and it is scored into the layer of fat between the skin and the meat. To make great crackling, you simply rub salt into the skin, making sure the salt gets into the cuts from the scoring. To achieve successful crackling, cook the joint in a hot oven for the first 20 minutes and then turn down to moderate for the remaining cooking time. That’s it. Dead simple. I have also had great success on a charcoal-fueled weber. Deliciously, juicy, and rich.
I point this out because often when I have been in the US, I have struggled to find pork roasts sold with the skin left on (except pork belly). Find yourself a good, local butcher (not the supermarket) and ask for the skin to be scored and left on (see the instructions below). And which cut of meat should you buy for good crackling? Popular choices are the leg, a rack of pork or pork loin (chine bone removed). Pork shoulder and pork belly also work well.
The “guaranteed” method of achieving crackling described below is a method detailed in, The Cook’s Companion, by Stephanie Alexander, a doyen of the Australian chef community. It is the single, best cookbook I have come across. It’s an 1100 page classic and you can get it here.
In all other respects this is my recipe, but the idea to serve the pork with rhubarb comes from Jamie Oliver. The rhubarb cuts through the richness of the pork. It is a sublime combination.
November is Melbourne month. Want to read more about Melbourne and its cuisine? Try here:
- Melbourne, world’s best for sport?
- Healthy avocado squash for breakfast
- 5 Insider Tips for Enjoying Fantastic Food in Melbourne
- Butternut Squash Quinoa Soup
- 11 of Melbourne’s best food shops and cooking classes
- Quality Gourmet Cheese Platter
- Guide to Fabulous Melbourne Markets
- Home-made Muesli with Yogurt, Rhubarb and Honey
- Insider Tips to Make the Most of your Melbourne Visit
Roast Lamb is also extremely popular in Australia. Here is a great Roast Lamb recipe with a South American twist.