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The man lies exaggerates.  For a start, that claim is fatuous, and moreover, his directions for perfect pork crackling betrayed me – as I suspected they might.

I’ll admit that Clarissa Dickson Wright with a wig and a penis blazing his way through the Yorkshire countryside on a quest for the Great British Feast is a beguiling sight, and his pot shots at a certain pilfering, posturing and now pigeon shooting chef are persuasive (let the feathers fly!), yet when it came to the crunch he left me with crackling stiffer than it was crisp.

True, my meat was tender and tasty with a gorgeous glaze and fat rendered below, but the dish came off half-cocked: our crackling crackled not, a monstrous munch fit for the dentally daring alone.

As a MPW virgin I found a famous chef more fascinated by food than currying favour with viewers and reviewers an inviting prospect, but although I love that surly face still, his words failed me: when he said “I don’t care” I should have believed him.

I will, however, spread the love by sharing my minor modifications to the glaze instructions in his Honey Roast Pork recipe:

Spiced Honey Glaze

  • 6 star anise
  • 1 tbsp cracked coriander seeds
  • 600g runny honey
  • 1 stock cube
  • 200ml water

The TV show is sponsored by Knorr, hence the stock cubes, but I use their liquid concentrate so no criticism from this corner.  600g honey seems totally excessive; I used 4 TBS with around 100ml of water.  Anyway, one just stirs together the water, honey, coriander seeds, star anise and stock in a saucepan and simmers the liquid until reduced by a third and fairly syrupy.  Don’t abandon it or you will have savoury treacle toffee – or worse.

Marco instructs us to glaze the pork – I’m sure he glazed the crackling itself on TV – using a pastry brush.  I strained out the bits, cleaved off the crackling and glazed the meat, allowing it to caramelise on the oven’s bottom shelf while I attempted (and failed) to furnace the crackling into compliance.  Incidentally, I remember Heston Blumenthal mentioning the umami properties of star anise and how it subtly enhances the meatiness of meat: it certainly did the business here.

Be that as it may, my quest for unfailingly friable, crisply crunchy crackling continues.  My pork rind plays peekaboo with perfect: sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t and I DON’T KNOW WHY!!!

Does anyone out there know the science behind the secret?  Do I have to ask Harold McGee?  Heston Blumenthal?  Please, put me out of purgatory; any kind soul who knows the truth do leave a comment and let me know.

Marco’s Great British Feast ITV Wednesdays 9th, 16th & 23rd July at 2100
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