LAST CHANCE: Vote for best Xmas butcher or deli in region
CHRISTMAS lunch isn't Christmas lunch without an oversized, succulent turkey, crispy pork crackling or a perfectly glazed ham from your local butcher or deli.
My mission for Delicious Local is to find the best one in Rockhampton and help locals support and celebrate their foodies as they see off a bizarre year.
I'm drooling at the thought of carving into the festive centrepiece, sharing it with the family and when tummies are full, wrapping it up in the wet canvas bag to enjoy leftover sandwiches for days to come.
Today, we're calling on you to nominate the butcher or deli that prepares the BEST meaty Christmas tucker for your table and we'll take those to make a shortlist of the best.
You know who they are because you queue up outside their shopfront every Christmas to pick up your orders.
Now, I know from hard experience there is much stress about getting your pork crackling right and it is understandable.
For me, and all those who stress about crackling, we know that there is no point having pork if there isn't any crackling.
There are a few key steps to sure fire pork crackling and your local butcher or deli is the expert you need on your team:
1. Pick the right pork shoulder, pork belly: rolled loin or rack are my picks.The first two are best with long slow cooking; the latter two have far less fat and so need quicker treatment.Get your butcher to slash the pork fat or use a craft blade like a Stanley knife. Only cut the fat and avoid cutting into the meat. Those parallel slashes need to be about 1cm apart.
2. It is important to dry the pork skin and fat before roasting. This is ideally started the day before. First dry the skin of the pork with kitchen paper. Then rub salt into the skin and into the slits. Leave it in the fridge overnight.The next day, carefully brush all the damp salt off and dry the skin again with paper.
3. Rub the skin with olive oil, and either vinegar or lemon juice, to help conduct the heat of the oven to the skin.
4. Turn the oven to at least 230C and blast the joint with heat for about 30 minutes or until the skin starts to bubble and brown. Then with pork shoulder and belly continue cooking slow (about 120C) until done. For a shoulder, I like to cook it until the meat falls apart.So that's between three to eight hours depending on the texture you want from your meat. With the rolled loin or chops use less time but a higher temperature, say 160C to 180C, as there is less fat both to render and to keep the meat moist.
5. Oh, and if all that doesn't give you perfect crackle just peel it off after cooking and place it skin side up under the grill. Watch it doesn't burn and remove when the skin has gone all puffy and golden.The alternative is to turn up the heat and finish the pork off at 180C until the skin cracks, but again beware that the crackling doesn't burn.
Every month, Delicious Local will celebrate who does the best food across Australia in a buffet of supercalifragideliciousness - and I want locals to be my guide.
It could be a small country deli, a locally-owned supermarket or a longstanding family butcher shop, I want your pick of whose ham will feature on your family's dining table this festive season.
So, whatever makes your butcher or deli great, we want to find the best.
Originally published as Nominate now: Help Matt Preston find the best Christmas butcher or deli in Rockhampton