crackling and peanut brittle

There are few things that aren’t improved by pork, even dessert. Last week I was going to a party and had offered to bring pudding. Specifically, I’d offered to bring cake. But I’m unreliable and my imagination, once it has got hold of an idea, generally won’t let up until I’ve tried it.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a friend’s house and was flicking through her copy of Fat by Jennifer McLagan. It’s a magnificent read – you can’t fail to love a book with a chapter headed Pork Fat: The King – and one recipe in particular caught my eye: spiced pork crackling brittle.

Basically, it’s spiced pork crackling chopped up and stirred into caramelised sugar to make pig candy. Utter brilliance and the notion kept nagging at me, demanding I give it a go. So instead of baking a cake, I roasted a pork belly joint.

The recipe below adds peanuts into the mix, which stretches it out and means people have to guess what the mystery ingredient is. At a party, when conversation can run short, this counts as fun. The pork crackling should be chopped no bigger than your littlest fingernail – you want it to add a meaty something to the overall affect, not sit like glistening chunks of skin embedded in amber.

Rubbing chilli into the skin when it cooks adds a background note of warmth, but you could add another teaspoonful to the caramel when you add the peanuts, and if you don’t have smoked sea salt, just use ordinary coarse sea salt flakes at the end. The extra salt is essential, unless you’ve used half a tub on the skin before cooking. Try a bit of crackling before you add it to gauge just how salty the end result is going to be. If you think it needs more salt after it’s made and set, scatter a spoonful or 2 over the top just before serving and let the guessing games begin.

Pork crackling and peanut brittle

600g pork belly joint
1/2 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
400g caster sugar
250g plain roasted peanuts
2 tsp smoked sea salt

1 Preheat the oven to gas mark 10/250°C/fan oven 230°C (or as hot as your oven will go). Score the skin on the pork belly with a sharp knife, being careful not to cut through the flesh. Put the joint in a roasting tin, skin-side-down, and rub the olive oil and a pinch of salt into the flesh. Turn over and rub a good quantity of salt into the skin with the chilli flakes, pushing them deep into the groves.

2 Roast for 15 minutes, then turn down the oven to gas mark 3/160°C/fan oven 140°C and roast for a further 11/2-2 hours, until the meat is very tender. Switch the oven to grill (or switch the pork joint to the grill) and grill until the crackling is crisp and browned. Set aside to cool.

3 Slice the cracking from the joint, trying to leave as much fat behind as possible. Set the meat aside (we’ll deal with the meat in another blog post). Scrape the underside of the brittle to remove as much fat as possible and brush the top to get rid of any burnt chilli flakes. Chop the crackling into fairly small chunks. Set aside.

4 Line a large baking tray with baking parchment or a silicone mat. Heat the sugar in a wide, heavy-based frying pan over a low heat, without stirring but shaking the pan occasionally to redistribute the sugar and the heat, until the sugar has melted. Increase the heat and when the sugar is a bubbling, rich chestnut colour quickly stir in the peanuts, salt and pork crackling. Remove from the heat and pour onto the baking parchment. Set aside to cool. It’ll only take a few minutes to set, but resist the urge to stick your fingers in too early – hot sugar sticks and burns.

5 Once the crackling has set, smash into pieces. Store wrapped in greaseproof paper in an airtight container. It will keep for 1–2 days but it’s best eaten on the day it’s made.

Tagged with: Bonfire NightBritishPorkSweets

19 Responses to Pork crackling and peanut brittle

  1. Jennifer McLagan says:

    Glad you liked my book Jacqui. Could you change the link to the UK edition?

    Thanks, Jennnifer

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      Wow, that is an efficient, early morning internet sweep system you have there. My early morning systems, on the other hand, are so blurry I can’t tell the difference between the US and UK Amazon sites. Link amended.

  2. Niamh says:

    WOW! This looks amazing. Makes sense – pork loves sugar and texture. I must check that book out.

  3. Helen says:

    Utter brilliance indeed. I want pig candy in my life and then I won’t ever let it leave.

  4. Food Urchin says:

    Pig candy? PIG CANDY??!!! My god, this sounds to good to be true……….PIG CANDY??!!!!!!

  5. ginandcrumpets says:

    @Niamh It’s a really good book. Going to put it on my Christmas wish list.

    @Norther Snippet yes, you definitely must.

    @Helen If only our children were bought up on pig candy rather than Mars Bars and Snickers. What a strapping society we’d be.


    Making these for Christmas. And then eating them all myself 😉

  7. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by FoodStories, Martin Hewitt, FoodUrchin, Avocado Brother, Aaron Davies and others. Aaron Davies said: RT @ginandcrumpets Pig makes everything better, including sweets. Salted pork crackling & peanut brittle: <- *drool* […]

  8. curlywurlyfi says:

    What Food Urchin said.

  9. Bellerina says:

    I can more than vouch for the pig candy – having eaten it in abundance at the aforementioned Bonfire Night party.

    Be warned though. It is *supremely* moreish but very very rich. And this little piggy went “wee wee wee, I feel a little green around the gills”….

    • ginandcrumpets says:

      Uh huh, because it was the pork brittle and definitely NOT the mulled cider that caused you problems. Definitely not that. *innocently raises eyebrows*

  10. ginandcrumpets says:

    @FoodUrchin Yes, pig candy. Think I’m going to move onto steak bon bons next.

    @aforkfulfspaghetti It does have Christmas present written all over it, doesn’t it?

    @curlywurlyfi Lol, what I said to @FoodUrchin

  11. Lizzie says:

    WOWEE WOWZERS! That looks awesome. Bravo!

  12. This is pure and utter genius! Pig, peanut candy, how has this not always been in my life?!

  13. […] Gin and Crumpets If you can't drink it, eat it « Pork crackling and peanut brittle […]

  14. meemalee says:

    Is this sweet or savoury with a bit of sweet?

  15. […] mention to the St Clement’s tart, the best dessert recipe I wrote all year. But the Pork crackling and peanut brittle was a sugary, piggy delight – and left me with a chunk of pork belly to pick […]

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