Fennel and clove pork scratchings

I’m posting my recipe for pork scratchings this week as, here in Scotland, we’ve been celebrating by eating unusual cuts of animal! The celebration is about the life and work of Robert “Rabbie” Burns, poet, writer and thinker; on Burns Night we eat haggis, a dish that is probably the world’s best way of turning unusual cuts (for instance, lamb lung) into a truly delicious dish. My recipe is about turning another unusual cut, pig skin, into what is one of the world’s best pre-dinner nibbles.

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Pork scratchings are a common place in many pubs – bought by the packet, cold and heavily salted, they go down well enough with a pint of beer. But imagine them light and fresh from your oven and tossed, not just in salt, but a spice mix of fennel, cloves and cayenne pepper? Guests find these Fennel and Clove Pork Scratchings quite irresistible. Our French friends with high standards when it comes to cuisine, loved them and my dad, whose a truly picky eater, could not stop eating them.

So I challenge you to make these super easy snacks and see what reaction you get when you serve them.

Fennel and clove pork scratchings

1 tsp of fennel or coriander seeds
1 tsp of cloves
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp of salt
400g pork rind

Makes about 40 pork scratchings
Cooking time: 20 – 25 minutes
Preparation time: 10 minutes.

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/450°F/ Gas mark 8.
2. Cut the pork rind up into pieces roughly 1½cm/¾” x 5cm/2”. Put the pieces of rind onto the grill rack to ensure any excess fat can drip away (I line the grill pan with foil to save a cleaning job). Roast the rind in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes until the skin is crispy.
3. While the rind cooks, heat a small frying pan. Add the seeds and cloves and roast until you can smell them. Remove from the heat, grind in a pestle and mortar and then mix with the cayenne pepper and salt.
4. Once the pork scratchings are bubbly, crispy and completely dry, tip into a bowl and stir in the spice mix. They are best served while still warm.

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