17th September, 2014
I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for over a year, as I cook it on a fairly regular basis. It’s not an authentic Cajun recipe, I made it up, having been inspired by the method my friend Amaia used to roast Chinese flavoured pork a couple of years ago.
I used a boned leg joint, but other pork joints would be equally good.
Cajun Roast Pork recipe:
4 – 5 lb pork roasting joint (leg or loin is good)
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
1 heaped teaspoonful of hot smoked pimentón de la vera
1 heaped teaspoonful of Cajun seasoning
a pinch of crushed chillis
1 teaspoon of finely ground sea salt (to rub into the skin)
Cajun seasoning can be made up at home or bought from a supermarket – I use:
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon of onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 teaspoons hot smoked pimentón
a pinch of crushed fennel seeds
Mix the garlic, olive oil, pimentón, Cajun seasoning and crushed chillis in a glass or ceramic dish – something big enough for your joint and that will fit into the fridge. Score the pork (a Stanley knife is very good for this), rub the marinade all over the meat, but not on the skin and put the dish with pork into the fridge for 24 hours.
Take the pork out of the fridge several hours before you are going to cook it, so that it can come to room temperature. One hour or so before cooking, make sure the skin is dry and uncontaminated by the marinade. Rub the salt into the skin, especially where you have scored it. Try not to get the salt into the marinade.
Turn the oven on full and wait until it is very hot (250º C). Transfer the pork to a baking dish, but reserve the garlic and thicker powder in the marinade for the gravy (it will burn if cooked with the pork). The runnier oil, however, can go in with the pork.
Cover the ends where the meat shows with a little aluminium foil – a cocktail stick or two will help to keep it in place. Cook the joint in the hot oven for about 20 – 30 minutes. This stage is where the crackling happens – it is critical and you do need to keep a close eye on it or it will burn! Once the skin has blistered and sounds hard and crunchy (tap it with a fork) you can turn the oven down to 180º C and remove the foil. I recommend waiting for 5 minutes before returning the meat to the oven, so as not to burn the crackling. Once the temperature has dropped a little the crackling will be safe for extended cooking and become increasingly crunchy as it cooks. It is possible to crackle the skin at the end of cooking, under the grill, but at that point the meat will dry out.
N.B. If your joint of meat is sitting higher at one end, crunch up a piece of foil and place it under the low end so it’s level and that the skin is being heated evenly.
Cook the pork for between 25 – 30 minutes per pound. It’s important to cook pork thoroughly, but you can eat it slightly rare. The USDA (United Stated Department of Agriculture) has certified that pork is safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 145º F (63º C) + a rest time of 3 minutes. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, prick the meat with a fork or skewer and look to see that the juices run clear. My meat was ready after 2 hours (total cooking time).
Do pour off some of the fat and oil while cooking, to make roast potatoes – they will have a slightly hot and spicy taste.
Do allow the gravy to cook for a few minutes before tasting or serving, since the garlic paste was previously in contact with raw pork.