Landlord and Chef at The Crown at Broad Hinton near Swindon, Oliver Moody, is claiming that his Roast Pork crackling is the crackliest ever.
“It taken me years to perfect the perfect pork crackling because it’s so delicious when it’s cooked properly – golden crisp on the outside, meltingly sweet underneath before you plunge into the tenderest of meat itself – and a big disappointment if the joint is soggy right through,” he said.
But it’s not just crackly roast pork on the menu at this pretty Arkell’s country pub. Oliver is a bit of a radical chef as the pub regularly hosts ‘Extreme Steak Nights’ with massive steak joints. The next such night is being held in October.
Oliver and his partner Anna Brookman are celebrating taking over officially behind the bar at The Crown, having worked tirelessly behind the scenes for the previous landlords, who left last month.
“We know The Crown and its customers well,” said Oliver. “Before we were employees, now we have the opportunity to make the pub truly our own.”
And the couple intends to do this in style. In what they think will be a first for Swindon, and what they also predict are the ‘next big thing’ in culinary delights, they will soon be introducing Monkfish Liver and Cod Cheeks onto the menu.
Monkfish liver is a Japanese delicacy – rich and creamy and it has been called ‘the foie gras of the sea’, cod cheeks (which really are the cheeks of a cod) can be cooked in much the same way as scallops and are also considered a delicacy.
“I love introducing new foods and new ideas onto the menu,” says Oliver, “But I know that not everyone wants to try it out so there’s plenty of recognisable dishes on the menu for the majority of our customers who would rather know what they are ordering!”
“Perhaps I’m like an extreme sportsman – sometimes I just want to go ‘off piste’ as they say and do something amazing, and sometimes more customers than we expect come along for the ride. When we started the extreme steak nights we thought to attract just a few but we’re having to do more of them as they’ve proved very popular.”
Arkell’s Brewery chairman, James Arkell, isn’t entirely sure about the monkfish liver or the cod cheeks, but is a big supporter of the extreme pork crackling. “There’s nothing better than tender roast pork inside an armour of crackling prepared by a young and enthusiastic team who love what they do – all washed down with a pint of Wiltshire Gold or 3Bs,” he says.
So what is the secret of Oliver’s crackling? “The meat must be as dry as possible before it’s rubbed all over with salt,” he says. “Then put it into a very hot oven – up to 220 degrees and leave it at that heat for the first half of the cooking time, then ‘Bob’s your uncle’.”