• 135g salt
  • 1.3 litres boiling water
  • 45mls flavoured vinegar
  • 45mls maple syrup
  • 545g peeled, cored and sliced apples
  • a joint of pork

I’ve done it again. Every year I promise myself I won’t. Every year I vow to channel my idea of the perfect French woman and only eat bird-like quantities of delicious morsels over Christmas, rather than shoving selection pack chocolate into my mouth in a gluttonous fashion. Here I am with my waistband cutting into my tummy as I type, though with glowing, fat filled skin. There’s a wrinkle-plumping silver lining to every cloud.

Here’s an idea for the juiciest roast pork, guaranteed not to make you feel deprived in any way if you are laying off the chocolate for a month. Just maybe give the crackling a wide berth.

Ingredients:

- 135g salt

- 1.3 litres boiling water

- 45mls Womersley lemon, basil, bay and juniper vinegar

- 45mls maple syrup

- 545g peeled, cored and sliced apples (any quantity is fine though, this is just what I used)

- a joint of pork – make a note of the weight though before you throw the packaging away

Brining the pork makes for succulent meat that’s not only perfect for eating with all the trimmings but makes for the best cold cuts. None of that dried out sandwich meat here, oh no Sir.

Take a large dish/clean bucket that fits in your fridge and place everything in it apart from the pork and stir until the salt dissolves. Let the mixture cool until room temperature, then place the pork in it. The pork displaces the brining mixture so obviously choose a dish/bucket that’s large enough. Cover, then place in the fridge or in a cool place like the garage/utility overnight or for 12 hours.

In the morning strain the pork brine mixture. I tend to just tip the lot into a colander and catch the apples and pork that way. Then find a roasting tin and place the apples onto the bottom to act as a platform to raise the pork. Place the pork on top, skin side up and then give it a good rub with a tea towel until the skin is dry. If you’re of the crackling persuasion then score the skin with a sharp knife and rub a tablespoon of salt into it.

Leave for 30 minutes to come to room temperature and in the meantime calculate your roasting time. You need to roast for 30 mins per 500g of meat plus an extra 30 mins. To roast, place in a preheated oven at Gas 7/220C for the first 30 minutes then turn down to Gas 4/180C for the rest of the cooking time. Every 40 minutes or so I drained some water away from the roasting tin. (The brined pork will release water as it roasts. Pouring it away ensures it roasts rather than boils.)

Careful not to over roast your pork! If your oven cooks hotter than the dial says then keep an eye on your meat. I rested my meat for 30 minutes after it came out of the oven, covered in foil, before carving and serving with all the usual trimmings. Beware eating the apples, they’re rather salty. Think of them as a marinade rather than an ingredient for apple sauce.

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