It’s ironic that one of the most wasted parts of a pig is also one of the most delicious. Pork scratchings are a classic snack, while the crackling upon a mighty loin of roast pork is one of the most revered delicacies of British cuisine: puffy, sweet, golden and crunchy, and altogether unctuous with a salty twang.

Pork rind is removed from bacon, chops and other cuts to refine them, but these days there is little demand for this delectable offal, so, once removed, it rarely makes it on to our plates and is instead rendered down for cosmetic products. Woe to the pig.

The good news, however, is that most butchers will will happily set some aside and sell it to you. If you want to save waste, next time you make roast pork, also procure some rind – but do make sure to get enough crackling to go around. Save the rind from your bacon, chop it up and use it instead of oil in the bases for soups and stews. Or have a go at this week’s recipe for Italian-inspired cotechino meatballs.

As a vegetarian, it would be remiss of me not to mention sustainability within this context. Intensive animal agriculture has the most damaging anthropogenic impact on our planet, but omnivores who enjoy pasture-reared, thrifty cuts of meat will reduce this impact without damaging their wallets.

Cotechino meatballs

This classic Italian sausage is usually squeezed into sausage casings, then poached and served with lentils. Unless you have a good Italian deli nearby, it can be hard to find, however, and takes a very long time to cook – about three hours in all – so I’ve written this recipe to be a relatively quick one to cook on the grill. It is a super-rich delicacy that, thanks to the pork rind, is well worth making. I first had it at River Cottage, when we used to make something similar on the Pig In A Day butchery course with the legendary Ray Smith. Ray would always say how important it is to know where your meat comes from, to ensure its quality.

Prep 10 min
Cook 1 hr 20 min
Serves 6-8

300g pork rind
200g streaky bacon
, roughly chopped
500g pork mince
2 garlic cloves
, peeled and finely chopped
50ml red wine
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tsp sea salt
1 pinch mace or nutmeg
1 pinch clove powder
Cooked lentils and salsa verde
, to serve (optional)

Simmer the pork rind in hot water for an hour, until really soft, then drain and chop finely.

Mix thoroughly with the bacon, pork mince, garlic,wine, fennel seeds, pepper, salt, mace (or nutmeg) and clove powder.

Roll the mix into 20 balls, then grill or barbecue these over a low heat for 15-20 minutes, turning them as little as possible, and serve with lentils and salsa verde or in buns.

There’s a lot more to pork rind than crackling | Waste not | Food

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