In Denmark, a pork loin roast topped with shatteringly crisp crackling is the mark of a festive occasion, as Trine Hahnemann includes in "A Nordic Christmas Feast." The crackling comes from the layer of skin and fat that naturally tops a pig's loin muscle; when roasted, it renders into a deliciously crisp, bubbly crust. The fat bastes the meat as it cooks, too, for juicy, tender results. It's an easy roast to prepare if you follow the Roast Pork with Crisp Crackling and Red Currant Gravy recipe, but you'll need to pre-order the roast to include the skin and fat and then do a little prep work at home.
1. Ask your butcher to remove the skin and fat from the pork loin roast in one piece, trim the fat down to about 1/4 inch thick, and then set it back on top of the roast; this is what it should look like.
Preparing at home
2. Remove the fat and skin layer and score the skin crosswise through to the fat in 1/2-inch intervals. The score marks will make it easier to carve the roast later.
3. Score the meat in a crosshatch pattern, cutting about 1/2 inch deep, to help the seasonings penetrate the meat.
4. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper and then top with the sautéed onions and the orange slices.
5. Lay the skin and fat back over the oranges and tie the roast at 1-1/2-inch intervals with kitchen twine.
6. Generously season the skin with salt, and then roast according to the recipe.
Photos: Scott Phillips