Roast pork with crackling may be one of the most popular dishes in Scandinavia. This succulent and flavorful dish is perfect for the cold months. It’s usually served warm with potatoes and gravy, but can also be used cold as topping on an open-faced sandwich.

This recipe will work for both the Norwegian version of roast pork (’ribbe’) and the Danish version (flæskesteg). The difference between the two is in the cut, but they are otherwise handled and prepared the same way.

Our roast pork is inspired by Miss Jensen’s Cookbook (Frøken Jensens Kogebog), one of the oldest and most trusted cook books for traditional Danish cooking. The first edition was released in 1901, and since then six new editions have been printed.

Getting the cut

Your best bet is to ask a local butcher to get the cut for you. If you want to prepare ’flæskesteg,’ ask for a pork loin or pork shoulder with rind (the skin and fat). If you want to prepare ribbe, ask for pork belly with rind. Pork belly is a much more fatty but extremely flavorful cut that just melts on your tongue.
You can also order your cut online from any of the Scandinavian food stores. Just keep in mind they require overnight or 2-day shipping on perishables.

For more details on how to ensure the right cut, please see our explanation in our posts on Danish and Norwegian Christmas dinner.

Ingredients

Roast
3-4 lbs roast (your choice of cut)
4-6 dry bay leaves
2-3 cups of water
4 tbsp coarse salt
Pepper

Sauce
2 cups of cooking liquid (from the meat and/or boiled potatoes)
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp flour
Salt & pepper to taste

Scoring the meat

If the meat is not scored, you need to take care of this part first. We recommend using a heavy duty utility knife. Cut the skin in slices about ½ inch or even less apart for the traditional Danish look of flæskesteg, and in squares of about an 1/2 – 1 inch apart for the traditional Norwegian look of ribbe.

Make sure to cut into the fat, but don’t cut into the meat as this may result in some loss of flavor. The meat juices may also leak, which can ruin your crackling. Correct scoring is extremely important to ensure a crispy crackling. It allows for steam to be released that would otherwise be trapped under the skin making it rubbery.

If your cut comes pre-scored, check that the cuts are deep enough, and that the skin is scored all the way through to the edges of the piece. If the edges are not sliced they may get rubbery.

Instructions

Rub the rind with coarse salt getting it in between the sliced rind. This will help with getting that nice crispy crackling. Don’t be afraid to use a good amount of salt for the rind. Follow with cracked pepper – but go easy on the pepper, you don’t want to overwhelm the good taste of the pork. Stick a few whole bay leaves and cloves in between the sliced rind. You may choose one or both. We like to use both.

Pour the water in the bottom of the roasting pan with a few cloves and bay leaves—this will make the gravy extra tasty. Place the pork roast, rind up, on the rack in the roasting pan. Adjust with foil underneath the roast to make sure the rind is completely level. That way the rind cooks evenly allowing for evenly crispy crackling.

Turn the oven on at 395°F and put the roast in. Let it cook for about 1.5 hours. If the crackling is not crispy increase the temperature to 480°- 580°F. If the crackling is crispy, just continue at 395°F until the internal temperature is 165°F.

Let the roast rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. If you worry about it getting cold, wrap it in some foil and a kitchen towel.

In the meantime, prepare the gravy using the liquid in the roasting pan. Skim off the fat first. Melt butter in a pan and mix in flour. Whisk in the liquid from the roast into the butter/flour mix little by little. Let the sauce come to a boil for a few minutes, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with caramelized potatoes, red pickled cabbage, and maybe some brussel sprouts.

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