Roast Pork with Crackling

Although far too rich to consume every day, roast pork with crackling is a beloved holiday treat in Iceland and Denmark, where the juicy outer layer of fat is served alongside the meat. Enjoy with gusto and delight (then swear off fast-food burgers for a month).

Serves: 10Hands-on: 30 minutesTotal: 14 hoursDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 10


  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon coarse salt, divided
  • 1⁄2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. whole cloves
  • 1 pork shoulder (5 lbs.) with a thick layer of fat
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 3 cups boiling water


  • Combine 1 gallon water, 1 cup salt, maple syrup, and cloves into a brine. Submerge pork completely, cover, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours but no longer than 24. Remove pork from brine, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Use a sharp knife to score the outside layer of fat into a cross-hatch pattern.
  • Mix together remaining 1 tablespoon salt, thyme, and bay leaves, then rub the mixture all over pork, including down into the seams of the cross-hatched fat.
  • Place roast on a rack over a deep roasting pan and bake in the center of the oven until the crackling is crisp and golden, about 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and pour boiling water into the bottom of the roasting pan (be careful that the steam does not burn you!). Cook for an additional hour until a thermometer inserted in the center of the roast registers 160°F.
  • When roast is fully cooked, remove crackling, slice into thin pieces, and serve alongside sliced pork.